The football betting world waited all day with bated breath for Joe Burrow's official status in NFL Week 3.
The star Cincinnati Bengals quarterback will, in fact, be under center for tonight's matchup with the Los Angeles Rams.
Burrow’s status has sent the Week 3 odds for a ride, dropping 0-2 Cincinnati from a touchdown favorite to as low as -1 this week. As it stands, MNF odds have the Bengals as -3-point home chalk against L.A.
So, what are NFL bettors supposed to do now?
Rams vs Bengals odds
Rams vs Bengals predictions
Williams has earned top billing in La-La Land, recording 104 yards rushing and 50 yards receiving through two games with four total touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving). McVay gets to prove how right he was on Monday Night Football, with Williams facing a Cincinnati Bengals stop unit bleeding gains on the ground.
The Bengals have been bullied by opposing runners the past two games, giving up five yards per carry and sitting 26th in EPA allowed per handoff. Now, they did face two of the tougher rushing attacks in the NFL —– Cleveland and Baltimore — but L.A. actually sits among the elite ground games so far in 2023, owning the eighth-highest EPA per run and eighth-best success rate per carry.
Williams isn’t just a threat on the ground either. He’s snagged six of 10 targets his way for 48 yards receiving against San Francisco in Week 2, including taking a red-zone screen pass six yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
“Well, he’s a complete back,” McVay told the media of Williams after the Akers deal. “I think he’s got the ability to play on all downs. He’s really put the work in. He’s earned a lot of trust from his coaches, from his teammates…were in alignment with saying, ‘We got to figure out ways to be able to get him involved.’”
Williams’ work on the ground and through the air is a big reason why this Rams offense has dominated the football to start the season, leading the league in time of possession. And with either a banged-up Joe Burrow or a backup under center for Cincinnati, L.A. should again see their share of possessions.
And, once in the red zone, Williams can find pay dirt in a multitude of ways. Los Angeles hasn’t missed much inside its opponent's 20-yard line, boasting a 5-for-6 success rate inside the red zone. The Bengals, on the other hand, have watched opponents put six on the scoreboard in five of their seven RZ stands.
Williams’ Week 3 player projections are leaning toward at least one more touchdown Monday, with models producing a consensus forecast just short of 0.6 touchdowns while one model is as high as 0.9 — including pegging Williams as the most likely RB to catch a touchdown pass in Week 3.
FanDuel sportsbooks have Williams set at +110 to score a touchdown against Cincinnati, which is a solid price considering other operators range from +105 to a pricy at -105 for the same result.
My best bet: Kyren Williams anytime touchdown (+110 at FanDuel)
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Rams vs Bengals same-game parlay
Williams has multiple ways to find the end zone and won’t be sharing snaps with any other Rams RBs in the red zone.
Joe Mixon will see a heavy workload with or without Burrow on the field. Player projections are all north of 60 yards facing a Rams run defense getting rolled for 5.3 yards per carry.
Matthew Stafford and the passing game will come back to earth and both offenses will look to establish the ground game, leading to shorter gains and a running clock. A recipe for Unders. Should Burrow be officially ruled out, this total will drop.
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Rams vs Bengals spread and Over/Under analysis
Look-ahead markets had Cincinnati installed as big as a 7.5-point home chalk before Burrow limped off the field following Cincy’s loss to Baltimore in Week 2. From there, the opener dropped from a touchdown to -6 on Sunday evening.
Money trying to get out ahead of any injury news flooded the market with Rams action and knocked this spread all the way to Bengals -1 early in the week. That crept back up to a field goal when Burrow showed up for practice in full gear but was very, very limited.
Since the weekend, Cincinnati hasn’t changed its tone on Burrow’s day-to-day status but did sign veteran QB A.J. McCarron due to a lack of depth under center. Before that move, Jake Browning was the second-stringer and RB Joe Mixon was QB3.
Perhaps the addition of McCarron is the tea leaves bettors needed, because the Bengals came off the key number of -3 and are now 2.5-point home favorites on Sunday morning.
Should Burrow go, I could see this spread trending back toward -6 — perhaps hanging at -5.5 knowing he’s not 100%. But should he sit, the market could move this line over the fence and close with the Rams as short road chalk.
Los Angles has played above expectations through two games, leading to a 2-0 record against the spread — thanks to Sean McVay’s last-second field goal against San Francisco that got L.A. inside the 7.5-point spread and stirred up its share of controversy.
The Rams' offense has looked especially sharp, despite not having WR Cooper Kupp in action. Veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford sits fourth in passing yards heading into Week 3 and Los Angeles ranks 10th in EPA per play with McVay utilizing a balanced attack, topping the NFL in first downs as well as time of possession.
Even with Burrow under center, that’s something Cincinnati has struggled with through two games. The Bengals were among the bottom of the league in first downs and have the sixth lowest TOP coming into Monday Night Football. Granted, Cincy has faced two very solid defenses in Cleveland and Baltimore — two divisional foes who know the Bengals well.
The Rams' defense ranks out in the bottom third of the league through two weeks. Los Angeles’ pass rush isn’t popping like it used to and the run stop has been rolled over for 5.3 yards per carry. The Rams are giving up the fourth-highest EPA per handoff in the league and if Burrow does sit, they’ll face a healthy number of runs from Cincinnati.
This Over/Under total opened at 46.5 with Burrow on the field but has since dropped to 43.5 points as of Sunday morning — a move that may have happened even if Burrow was healthy. The Bengals’ lack of offensive cohesion has them totaling just 27 points through two games.
While the Rams' offense is performing better than projected, McVay was facing two divisional foes in the opening games, benefitting from familiarity and his game plan took what the zone defenses from the Seahawks and 49ers allowed. Stafford hasn’t been pressured much, feeling the heat on only 13.3% of dropback, and has been sacked only one time.
Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo knows Stafford and McVay very well, having studied the Rams for their Super Bowl run-in two seasons ago. He knows his unit must step it up with Burrow injured and he had success with the pass rush against the Browns in Week 1, recording three sacks in the loss to Cleveland.
Rams vs Bengals betting trend to know
The Rams are 18-10 SU vs. the AFC but have come away with an 11-15-2 ATS record in those outings since 2017. Put Los Angeles on the road in AFC territory and it’s just 3-9-1 ATS (27%). Find more NFL betting trends for Rams vs Bengals.
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Rams vs Bengals game info
|Location:||Paycor Stadium, Cincinnati, OH|
|Date:||Monday, September 25, 2023|
|Kickoff:||8:15 p.m. ET|
|Opening odds:||Bengals -7.5, 46|
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