Former Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger says the Bengals’ Joe Burrow is “one of the elite in the league”.

Ben Roethlisberger usually likes to wait three seasons before making any statements about a quarterback. While Joe Burrow’s third season isn’t technically over, Roethlisberger is ready to declare the 26-year-old Bengals quarterback a real deal.

A year after leading the Bengals to the Super Bowl, Roethlisberger, who retired last January as a two-time Super Bowl champion and future Hall of Fame quarterback, has drawn attention to Burrow’s continued success this season. Roethlisberger is also a favorite for the Bengals, who are just one game away from successfully defending their AFC crown.

“The Bengals are looking really good right now,” Roethlisberger said on his podcast recently. “They are a football team to be reckoned with at the moment. They’ve had a real run with them and I think Joe is where it starts.

“Joe is one of the elite in the league. He’s good. His pocket presence. He can run enough, he’s a sneaky good runner. Great decision maker. Great throws. … I’ll tell you what, I don’t think it’s taking too long , until he’s in MVP talks, I really think so.”

While unlikely to win, Burrow is in fact in contention for this year’s MVP, along with Justin Jefferson and fellow quarterbacks Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts. Burrow won both straight duels with Allen and Mahomes this season. He is 3-0 in games against Mahomes-led teams coming into Sunday’s rematch of the AFC Championship game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

Burrow was asked if he was in the MVP mix following the Bengals’ comeback win over the Chiefs in Week 13. It was the fourth of 10 straight wins for the Bengals, who are 27-11 including the postseason for the past two years with Burrow under center.

“It is what it is. I don’t play the game for those kinds of awards.” Burrow said at the time. “I play the game for the boys in the dressing room. I’ve always said whatever it takes me every Sunday, I’ll do it. I could pass the ball 72 times and win with one coming out, I’ll be happy.”

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Roethlisberger, who like Burrow grew up in Ohio, had a similar attitude throughout his career. While he retired as one of the most accomplished passers in league history, Roethlisberger was at times aided by dominant defenses and powerful offense, particularly early in his career when the Steelers played in three Super Bowls over a six-year span.

Like Roethlisberger in his career, Burrow wants to define himself through team success. If he can help lead the Bengals to two more wins this season, Burrow – who recently became the first former No. 1 overall to start two conference title games in his first two seasons — will join Roethlisberger and former Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco as Super Bowl-winning AFC North quarterbacks.

“I can’t say enough, Joe,” Roethlisberger said. “It hurts to say that about a division opponent, but I’m not in the division anymore.” Former Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger says the Bengals’ Joe Burrow is “one of the elite in the league”.

Chris Estrada

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