Cincinnati made the playoffs after starting last season 0-2. But the Bengals will want to avoid a similar Houdini Act this season. What is holding Cincinnati back is an injury to quarterback Joe Burrow, who remains day-to-day with a calf injury. Burrow’s lack of availability and taking two losses to teams in the division has Cincinnati desperate to win to get back on the right foot.
The Los Angeles Rams started the season by surprising the Seattle Seahawks on the road. While the Rams came back down to Earth with a loss to San Francisco last week, it is clear the Rams have recaptured some of their mojo. While Los Angeles will want to get Cooper Kupp back before seeing what its offense has left, the Rams are on the right path to being contenders for a spot in the playoffs.
Super Bowl Rematch Lacks Some Juice
The Bengals and Rams haven’t met since Los Angeles beat Cincinnati 23-20 on Feb. 13, 2022, to win Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. The Bengals will be three-point favorites this time when Cincinnati will host Los Angeles at 8:15 p.m. Monday at Paycor Stadium.
Cincinnati and Los Angeles don’t have a long history against each other because the teams play in different conferences. The Bengals lead the all-time series 8-7, including the meeting in the Super Bowl. The Rams have won the last two meetings in the series.
Should Burrow Rest?
Most news coming out of training camp was centered around rumors surrounding Burrow’s health. There was a thought that Burrow may miss the first few weeks to heal up. However, Cincinnati decided Burrow was ready and had him start in the season opener.
Burrow agitated the injury during Cincinnati’s loss to Baltimore last week. The Bengals don’t have a good backup plan. Cincinnati’s backup quarterback Jake Browning, 27, has only attempted one pass during his NFL career.
His injury has limited Burrow’s ability to make plays. Burrow has only completed 56.9 percent of his passes thus far and has only thrown two touchdown passes. Cincinnati will need more if it plans to win the AFC North title for the third straight season.
Kyren Williams Gets Nod at Running Back for the Rams
Los Angeles finally was able to part with running back Cam Akers. The Rams attempted to trade Akers last season but couldn’t find a partner. After Akers expressed unhappiness with how things went this season, he was made inactive for the Rams’ Week 2 loss to the 49ers. Los Angeles traded him to the Minnesota Vikings this week.
Los Angeles decided that Akers was expendable and chose to elevate Williams. During William’s first start last week, he carried the ball 15 times for 52 yards. Williams is only in his second season as a professional. In Williams’ first season, he appeared in 10 games and carried the ball 35 times.
The Rams hope the running game can pick up to help support quarterback Matthew Stafford. Los Angeles’ running game currently averages 90.5 yards per game, which ranks 23rd in the league.
Bengals Defensive Line Looks For More Production
Cincinnati wasn’t able to make Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson feel uncomfortable. During the Bengals’ 27-24 loss to the Ravens, Cincinnati’s defensive line was too polite while on the field. The Bengals allowed Baltimore to rush for more than five yards per carry. The Bengals only recorded one quarterback hit and didn’t have any sacks.
Rams Rookie Receiver Makes Waves
Puka Nacua was hoping to settle into the NFL slowly. But with injuries to Kupp and Stafford’s confidence in him, Nacua has started to put up solid numbers. During the Rams’ first two games, Nacua has caught 25 passes for 266 yards in the first two games for Los Angeles.
Nacua was chosen in the fifth round of the draft by the Rams out of BYU. He currently leads the NFL with 111 yards after the catch. Los Angeles will need Nacua to keep up his performance level for a few more weeks at least. Kupp can’t return until after Week 4.
Bengals Star Would Like to See Bengals Take More Risks
Cincinnati wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase doesn’t want to use Burrow’s injury as an excuse for the lack of explosiveness in the offense. Chase said this week he wants to see the Bengals take more chances down the field in the passing game. Since coming into the league in 2021, Chase has been one of the league’s best receivers.
The 2023 season hasn’t been kind to Chase so far. He has caught 10 passes for 70 yards and has yet to score a touchdown. Chase’s longest catch was 13 yards. During Chase’s rookie season, he averaged 18 yards per catch.
Aaron Donald Had Limited Success Against San Francisco
Donald, the Rams star defensive tackle, was returning to the field this year after missing a lot of time due to injury last season. Playing against a strong San Francisco offensive line, Donald had a hard time finding a way into the backfield. Donald finished with one quarterback pressure and didn’t record a tackle or sack.\
The Rams likely won’t be worried about Donald, 32, yet. He is a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and has been selected to the All-Pro team seven times.
Mixon Hopes to Be Back in Form
Bengals running back Joe Mixon was a crucial part of Cincinnati’s success over the past few seasons. However, Mixon’s productivity was questioned after he was limited to 14 games last season and saw his yards per carry dip to 3.9. This season, Mixon has found more success on the ground.
Mixon averages 4.4 yards per carry and has 115 yards through two games. Mixon has recorded three 1,000-yard seasons during his career, which started in 2017.