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Bengals' Joe Burrow gives title of NFL's best QB to Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes: 'He's the one to knock off'

It's hard finding any consensus about any topic of the NFL, but the subject of best quarterback doesn't even appear to be a debate among quarterbacks -- even those who are theoretically in the discussion for that question.

Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow can legitimately make a case for at least being among the best in the league. But when Burrow was asked who the QB1 was league-wide, he didn't offer up his own name.

"I don't think there's any argument right now," Burrow said. "It's Pat (Mahomes). Until somebody has a better year than he's had, he's the one to knock off."

Burrow and the Bengals actually have knocked off Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs more than once. Since Burrow entered the league in 2020, the Bengals are 3-1 against the Chiefs, including a win over them at Arrowhead Stadium in the 2021 AFC Championship Game that landed Cincinnati in its third-ever Super Bowl.

But Mahomes and the Chiefs got the last laugh in January, beating the Bengals in a playoff rematch. A banged-up Mahomes was special in that game, completing 29 of 43 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns, along with rushing for a key first down late that led to the game-winning field goal.

Burrow was less sharp. He completed 26 of 41 passes for 270 yards and TD but also threw two interceptions -- including one in the fourth quarter -- and was sacked five times in the game. 

Another reasonable candidate for that mantle, the Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen, couldn't disagree either. In May, while appearing on Kyle Brandt’s Basement, Allen was asked to pick apart Brandt's AFC QB tiers, which placed Mahomes in the first group by himself, followed by Allen and Burrow. Allen had no qualms with Brandt's rankings.

"Until me or Joey or anybody else can win a Super Bowl, I think Pat's kind of the clear No. 1 right now," Allen said. "He's been playing at such a high level for so long, and he's got the rings to kind of prove it."

Burrow isn't settling for second best, though, saying that "the top of the mountain is always the goal, personally and team wise," and that that goal hasn't changed. But it's hard for Burrow or any other top quarterback to take it personally against Mahomes that he's roundly viewed as the top dog because only other quarterbacks can truly understand how tough it is to be the best of the best.

"Whenever you're at the top of what you do, you always have respect for those guys," Burrow said. "Because you know the work that it takes to get to that point."

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