LOS ANGELES RAMS (1-1) at CINCINNATI (0-2)
Monday, 8:15 p.m. EDT, ESPN
FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK NFL LINE: Bengals by 2 1/2.
SERIES RECORD: Bengals lead 8-7.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Baltimore 2-0; Cincinnati 0-2.
LAST MEETING: The Rams beat the Bengals 23-20 in the Super Bowl on Feb. 13, 2022.
LAST WEEK: Rams lost to 49ers 30-23; Bengals lost to Ravens 27-24.
RAMS OFFENSE: OVERALL (2), RUSH (23), PASS (3), SCORING (9).
RAMS DEFENSE: OVERALL (6), RUSH (24), PASS (5), SCORING (12).
BENGALS OFFENSE: OVERALL (32), RUSH (28), PASS (30), SCORING (T30).
BENGALS DEFENSE: OVERALL (28), RUSH (31), PASS (10), SCORING (T19).
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Rams minus-2; Bengals plus-1.
RAMS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Puka Nacua has started his NFL career in historic fashion as his 25 receptions through two games are the most by a rookie. Nacua, who is second in the league with 266 yards receiving, has shown a knack for finding holes in defensive coverages. However, the fifth-round draft pick from BYU has yet to face extensive jamming and physicality off the line of scrimmage, something the Bengals do effectively.
BENGALS PLAYER TO WATCH: Joe Burrow practiced Friday, a positive sign for the Bengals that a lingering calf injury may not keep him out of Monday’s game. He was better in Week 2 than Week 1, but not good enough to keep the Bengals from an 0-2 hole. The Cincinnati team rises and falls with the star quarterback whose recent contract extension made him the highest-paid player in the league.
KEY MATCHUP: Bengals receivers against Rams pass defense. After going without a catch in Week 1, Tee Higgins led the Bengals with eight catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns. Ja’Marr Chase has been held to a total of 70 receiving yards in the first two games. Cincinnati is 30th out of 32 teams in passing.
KEY INJURIES: Rams OL Joe Noteboom is expected to be available after sustaining a shoulder injury against the 49ers. … Burrow is day to day. … Bengals S Nick Scott is out of concussion protocol. … Bengals LB Akeem Davis-Gaither (knee) and TE Irv Smith Jr. (hamstring) were listed as limited participants in Friday’s practice.
SERIES NOTES: The Monday night game will be a rematch of Super Bowl 56 after the 2021 season, a 23-20 win by the Rams. … The Rams have won two in a row over the Bengals, including a 24-10 result at L.A. in 2019. … Previous to that, Cincinnati had won three in a row — in 2007, ‘11 and ’15 — when the Rams franchise was located in St. Louis. … The Rams haven’t won in Cincinnati since Oct. 3, 1999. That was a 38-10 rout by the visitors.
STATS AND STUFF: In addition to ranking first in the league in receptions, Nacua leads the NFL in yards after the catch (111). … After their offensive line was decimated by injuries last season, the Rams have fared much better up front through two games, allowing just one sack. They allowed multiple sacks 13 times in 2022. … QB Matthew Stafford threw two interceptions in the loss to San Francisco. He has thrown multiple picks in eight of his 28 games with Los Angeles. … Rookie OLB Byron Young leads the Rams with 1 1/2 sacks. The third-round draft pick from Tennessee got his first solo sack when he brought down Brock Purdy in the second quarter. … Los Angeles has converted 58.1% on third down (18 of 31), one of three teams to move the chains at 50% or better along with Baltimore (58.6%) and Dallas (50%). … The Rams had one pass play of 20 yards or more against the 49ers after hitting six in the season opener at the Seahawks. They do not have a run play of 20-plus yards through two games. … Cincinnati’s previous appearance on “Monday Night Football” ended when Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field at Paycor Stadium on Jan. 2. … Burrow’s interception in front of the Ravens’ goal line in the third quarter of last week’s loss led to a 14-point swing. … Burrow finally found a rhythm in the second half of the game and finished 27 for 41 for 222 yards and two touchdowns. … Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon has been carrying the load on the ground, compiling 115 yards in two games and averaging 4.4 yards per carry. … The Bengals had just seven possessions last week, punting on three of them and turning the ball over on Burrow’s interception on another. That came after they punted 10 times in the Week 1 loss to the Browns.
FANTASY TIP: With Burrow’s status in question, Mixon could be called on to carry more of the load. The Rams rank 24th in rush defense.
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