Preview and pick for the late MNF matchup between the Bengals and Rams
It's one of those nights again, where NFL bettors can see not one, but TWO Monday night games. The Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be in the first game, while the nightcap - if you want to call it that - involves the Cincinnati Bengals playing host to the Los Angeles Rams. Kickoff at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati is 8:15 PM ET on ESPN.
In the Monday Night Football betting odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetOnline, the Bengals are laying points at home:
Cincinnati Bengals -3
Los Angeles Rams +3
Over 45 points -115
Under 45 points -105
This would be a "rematch" of sorts. These teams met in the Super Bowl two seasons ago, with the Rams winning 23-20. And there is the familiarity between the head coaches. Zac Taylor of the Bengals, who was a quarterback at Nebraska, was QB coach for Sean McVay with the Rams before Cincinnati hired him.
Of course, there is the matter of Joe Burrow hovering over the festivities. Burrow injured his calf in practice early in training camp, and sat out a few weeks. He aggravated that injury against the Ravens, and the severity was enough that it left his participation here in doubt.
Even at this hour, it can't be absolutely certain that he can go, Published reports say that he is going to try very hard to make himself ready; indeed, when you are off to a 2--0 start there's not a lot of luxury to sit out.
Truth be told, Burrow was probably affected by this injury in Week 1 against Cleveland. He had arguably the worst day of any starting QB in the league, completing just 14 of 31 passes for 82 yards.
Things got off to a very slow start in Week 2, but eventually the Bengals' offense got on a bit of a roll and threw a scare into the Baltimore Ravens in a 27-24 defeat.
This Burrow business is especially rough in the wake of the five-year, $275 million extension he signed just recently that made him the highest-paid NFL player.
If Burrow can't play, that would leave things up to Jake Browning, the former University of Washington quarterback who has attempted one NFL pass.
Jordan Palmer, brother of Carson and a well-known quarterback guru, believes that Browning would do just fine for the Bengals. Says Palmer, who has worked with Browning, "I was blown away when I saw how he moves and sees the field. He’s got a good touch on the back shoulder.”
That's a strong recommendation, but the dynamic would still undergo a change with Browning at the controls. That dynamic was also kind of shaky. Ja'Marr Chase isn't complaining much, but he's only got ten catches. Tee Higgins did come alive last week, with six receptions for 89 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and so you get the feeling that things could be on the verge of coming together . . . maybe.
Meanwhile, Sean McVay seems to have found something with this Rams team, even as they have lost the most prolific receiver in the NFL and are without a star running back. Matthew Stafford (62.4%, 641 yards) has been throwing darts, and in the absence of Cooper Kupp, the man of the moment is BYU product Puka Nacua, who has hauled in 25 passes for 266 yards and is positioning himself as a Rookie of the Year contender. Oh, and Tutu Atwell has added 196 yards. Stafford has been sacked only once, which is a big plus.
You have to like this kind of efficiency. Which is why we think the Rams are on a more productive track than Cincinnati right now.
Whether it's Burrow or Browning, we like the Rams under either scenario.
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