We’ve got one more Monday night doubleheader to enjoy tonight as the Bucs take on the Eagles and the Rams visit the Bengals. For the first game, Philly comes in as 5.5-point favorites. In the later contest, the Bengals look for their first win of the year as 3-point favorites. Tonight’s doubleheader features a few exciting storylines and matchups, so let’s get into it.
Eagles at Buccaneers
There are only three undefeated teams left in the NFC, and after this game, there will only be two. Despite not coming into the season with the same expectations, the Eagles and the Bucs have managed to win each of their first two games by a combined 11 and 13 points respectively.
For the Birds, these games were a little closer than they would have liked, but 2-0 is still 2-0. Devonta Smith is off to a very fast start in the pass game, but Philadelphia’s run game has made the biggest difference this year. After only getting one carry behind Kenneth Gainwell in Week 1, D’Andre Swift exploded last Thursday for 175 rushing yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. If the Eagles can get solid production from Swift and Gainwell regularly, this offence could be even more dangerous than they were last year. Through two weeks, their opponents have taken the deep ball away from Hurts and A.J. Brown, but if the run game succeeds early tonight, Tampa Bay will have no choice but to leave the secondary a little more exposed.
On the other side, Baker Mayfield will lead the surprising Buccaneers into their toughest test of the season. As much as the win against the Vikings impressed people, the fact does remain that the Bucs haven’t played a team with a win yet this season. Obviously, that changes tonight against the defending NFC Champions, and Tampa Bay will have to be ready for it. Baker has developed an instant chemistry with Mike Evans so far this year, but if the Eagles work to take that away, he’ll have to look to Chris Godwin, Cade Otton and Rachaad White. It’s almost impossible to completely take Evans away, but he’ll certainly be a focus for Philadelphia’s talented secondary.
Doubleheader Pick 1: The Bucs are a little better than people thought they’d be, but I think tonight is the night Philly puts it all together. I’ll take the Birds to cover the spread.
Rams at Bengals
Contrary to what many would have thought, only one team in this matchup has a win so far this year and it’s not the Bengals. Of course, the main question for the latter half of tonight’s doubleheader will be whether or not Cincy can get back on track in front of their home crowd. It won’t be easy, though, as the Rams have already turned heads and exceeded expectations through the first two weeks of the year.
For the Bengals to get out of their early slump, Joe Burrow will need to be much better. After six terrible quarters to start the year, he finally looked a little more like himself in the second half of last week’s game, but it still wasn’t enough to avoid a loss to the Ravens. Burrow may be playing injured, but if the injury is restricting him this much, he shouldn’t be out there risking further damage anyways. Out of all the winless teams, the Bengals have the least number of reasons to panic. They’ve proven they can play their way out of tough starts, and they’ve still got all the weapons around Burrow. If tonight is more of the same, though, expect to hear some displeasure from the home crowd.
On Sean McVay’s sideline, things are much more hopeful after two weeks than people expected them to be. The Rams are a very young team, but the youth are playing like veterans. Rookie WR Puka Nacua has sprinted out of the gates to start his career and with no Cooper Kupp in the lineup, he’s already cemented himself as Matt Stafford’s favorite target. Through two games, Nacua has been targeted a record 35 times. In the running game, Kyren Williams was the clear top option last week and now that Cam Akers has been traded, his role as RB1 is even less of a question. Expect to see him busy on the ground and through the air. Through Sean McVay’s intelligent coaching, young players making plays, and Matt Stafford looking as good as ever, this Rams offence is one to keep an eye on tonight and as the season progresses.
Doubleheader Pick 2: I like what the Rams have been doing so far this season, but I think tonight is the night the Bengals show up. They’ve had a tough two weeks, but there’s too much talent on this roster to go 0-3. I’ve got Cincy to cover tonight.
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After that, you can check out our Week 3 Power Rankings here.