The Week 3 slate of the 2023 NFL season concludes on Monday night as the sputtering Cincinnati Bengals host the Los Angeles Rams at Paul Brown Stadium.
The big question is where these two teams will stand amidst precarious perches. The Rams pushed the powerful San Francisco 49ers to the limit in Week 2 but fell just short in a 30-23 loss to drop to 1-1 on the young season.
Meanwhile, the Bengals continued their recent trend of slow starts in the Joe Burrow era with an 0-2 start following in-division losses to the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.
Will the Bengals continue their losing streak, or get back on track and find their first win of the season?
Here’s what’s on our radar for tonight:
Will Joe Burrow play?
The NFL’s highest-paid man has a calf injury, thus potentially putting him out of commission for Monday night’s matchup. The Bengals’ star quarterback was unable to practice on Thursday night and will test the calf ahead of kick-off, making him a game-time decision.
There is the obvious debate as to whether the Bengals should risk further damaging his injured calf, thus potentially sparking a long-term injury. But at 0-2 — which has become the norm as the Bengals are 1-7 over the first two games of the last four seasons with Burrow at the helm — the quicker he’s back under center, the better.
Jake Browning, a 27-year-old with just one career pass attempt in the NFL, is Cincinnati’s backup, which could potentially take Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins out of the equation on Monday night.
Puka Nacua good to go, looks to continue historic start
Rams rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua has already written his name in the NFL record books, recording 25 catches for 266 yards through his first two games as a pro after he was taken in the fifth round of the draft.
Following a 15-catch, 147-yard performance in Week 2 against the 49ers, the BYU product was listed as questionable after suffering an oblique injury, but he has been deemed good to go for Monday night’s clash in Cincinnati.
Bengals defense will have its hands full
While Nacua has been remarkable to start his career, Rams veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford will need to be right by Nacuas’s side as one of the stars to take down the Bengals. Stafford has had only one passing touchdown this season despite throwing for over 300 passing yards in Los Angeles’ opening two games.
Yet the Rams are still averaging an impressive 26.5 points per game compared to Cincinnati’s woeful 13.5, tied for the worst scoring output in the league so far. It seems as though the Bengals’ defense will have to put up a tough fight to keep their side in it — especially if Burrow doesn’t play.
Rams vs. Bengals Monday Night Football odds
- Spread: Bengals -3
- Over/Under: 44
- Rams Moneyline: +130
- Bengals Moneyline: -155
Odds courtesy of DraftKings. For more, click here.