The Cincinnati Bengals will host the Los Angeles Rams in a rematch of Super Bowl LVI, as part of a Monday Night Football double header. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is expected to try to play after reinjuring his calf in last week’s game.
The Bengals are reeling following two key divisional losses to start the season, along with an injury to their star quarterback.
The Rams started the year 1-1, and will look to bounce back after a divisional loss of their own against the 49ers last week.
Will Burrow Play? What’s the backup plan?
Burrow’s availability has been in question all week, but there is optimism surrounding his status for tonight.
Joe Burrow is feeling better and barring a setback from now until kickoff, the #Bengals QB is going to try and go tonight for Monday Night Football against the Rams, sources tell @Enquirer @DMRussini first reported things were trending in the right direction
— Kelsey Conway (@KelseyLConway) September 25, 2023
While the hope is for Burrow to play, the Bengals will need a backup plan if he cannot go. Second-string QB Jake Browning would be in line to get the start if Cincinnati is without its starting signal-caller.
Although Browning only has one career passing attempt, Burrow expressed confidence in his backup earlier this week.
Burrow on Jake Browning: “If he’s out there, he’s gonna do great.” pic.twitter.com/ADSUTQrnd9
— Jay Morrison (@ByJayMorrison) September 21, 2023
The team also signed AJ McCarron and Reid Sinnett to the practice squad as further QB options behind Browning.
What about the Rams?
The Rams 1-1 start may be surprising to some, especially considering star wide receiver Cooper Kupp was placed on the injured reserve to start the year.
Rookie Puka Nacua has stepped up in Kupp’s absence, becoming Matthew Stafford’s new favorite target. Nacua has hauled in 25 receptions for 266 yards through the first two weeks of the season. However, an oblique injury has put question marks around his status for Monday night.
Rams are listing WR Puka Nacua as questionable for Monday night’s game vs. the Bengals due to his oblique injury, but HC Sean McVay said he is expected to play.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 23, 2023
The Rams have scored 53 points through the first two weeks, putting up an average of 402 offensive yards. That includes a 23 point performance against a defense many consider to be the best in the NFL in the San Francisco 49ers. Assuming Nacua can go, the Rams will look to have another impressive offensive performance against a defense that has given up 24 points in each of its first two games.
The Bengals enter tonight’s game as three point favorites. They desperately need a win, as only 2.4% of teams to start the season 0-3 have made the playoffs in the Super Bowl Era. Without Burrow, it would be an uphill battle for a team that has reached the AFC Championship game in two consecutive years.
The Rams had a down year last year after beating the Bengals in the Super Bowl the year prior. After a 1-1 start this season, a win against one of the AFC’s top teams could go a long way in giving the team momentum in a year where they had low expectations.
The game starts at 8:15 p.m.