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The second game of the Monday Night Football doubleheader features a rematch of Super Bowl LVI between the Los Angeles Rams (1-1) and the Cincinnati Bengals (0-2). This is the first time that either will face each other, outside of preseason, since the Rams defeated the Bengals in the 23-20 thriller in SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
The Rams are feeling good about their playoff chances and after a slight rebuild after last season. Los Angeles defeated the Seattle Seahawks on the road before losing to the San Francisco 49ers last week.
The Bengals, on the other, have lost both of their AFC North Divisional games at the Cleveland Browns and at home against the Baltimore Ravens. The season has already been brutal for Bengals fans as the team faces a potential 0-3 start, and quarterback Joe Burrow is incredibly limited due to his injured calf.
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Los Angeles Rams
After a year of injuries and inconsistencies, the Rams have some life back in their offense. The Rams are ninth in the league in points per game (26.5), third in total yards per game (406) and third in passing yards per game(315.5). Quarterback Matthew Stafford has more in the tank after an injury-filled season last year. While his top target in Cooper Kupp is on IR, the Rams have seen great production from Puka Nacua, who has caught 25 receptions for 266 yards.
Cincinnati's defense has seen better days as they find themselves among the bottom half of the league in most defensive categories. The loss of star safety Jessie Bates, a tremendous player and leader, is an indication that the Bengals should have prioritized free agents somewhere else on the roster. The Bengals are 23rd in points allowed per game (25.5) and 32nd (last) in rushing yards allowed per game (192).
If before the season, the Bengals would possess the worst-ranked scoring offense (13.5 points per game) and the worst-ranked total offense (212 total yards per game), it would've been believed to be a joke. The Bengals, however, have been incredibly limited by the injured calf of Burrow. This is an injury that caused a huge convenience to make throws, have the right footing when making throws, scramble, or even lead the offense. A healthy Burrow would give the Bengals an elite offense. If Cincinnati can't get Burrow to recover or sit for a portion, the season might not be recoverable.
The Rams' defense lost some key veteran leadership in the linebacker corp and secondary. They still have a high-caliber defensive line, led by star defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who is still one of the most tenacious defenders in the league. Donald could be a serious problem for the Bengals' offense, especially if he gets to Burrow consistently.
Donald has only accounted for 0.5 sacks through two games this season, but he has been double-teamed constantly. He has also forced the opposing quarterbacks to throw the ball away early. The offensive line for the Bengals is among the weakest position group. Donald could have his first great game on Monday.
The Bengals currently have the worst pass defense in the league and it is not known if it will get better. While Stafford has thrown for 641 yards, he also only threw for one touchdown in his two games. That will likely change going into this week three matchup.
With Burrow limited, the Bengals will be forced to run the ball more. Bengals running back Joe Mixon will be the key factor of the offense and the biggest why he might get Cincinnati its first win of the season.
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Michael Hanich is a sports journalist/analyst with a wide variety of experience in the newspaper and digital field. He has a love for all sports. The leagues that he covers are College Football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, College Basketball (men’s and women’s), the MLB, Lacrosse, Volleyball, and the WNBA.More info on Michael Hanich
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