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2023 NFL season: Six things to watch for in Eagles-Buccaneers, Rams-Bengals on Monday night

After closing the Week 2 slate with a pair of divisional games that went down to the wire, Week 3's double dip is an extra treat for football fans.

The Eagles and Buccaneers kick off first an undefeated showdown between NFC opponents before the Rams and Bengals square off in a Super Bowl LVI rematch 60 minutes later.

Philadelphia and Tampa Bay are coming off wins in Week 2, while Los Angeles and Cincinnati are coming off one-possession losses.

The Eagles and Buccaneers hope to continue their win streaks, respectively. Meanwhile, the Rams are looking to get back in the win column, and the Bengals are still searching for their first victory of the season and have questions at the QB spot.

Here are six things to watch for in Eagles-Buccaneers and Rams-Bengals on Monday night:

Philadelphia Eagles
2023 · 2-0-0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2023 · 2-0-0

  1. Can the Eagles’ offense fly high? Jalen Hurts enters Monday’s game with 363 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and one interception through two games. He also have two rushing TDs on QB sneaks, but Hurts’ numbers currently don’t stand out among the other top quarterbacks in the league. With new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson taking over, Philadelphia’s aerial attack has not looked the same through the first two games as 2022’s unit. DeVonta Smith led the way in Week 2 for Philly with 178 receiving yards and two TDs, while A.J. Brown and Hurts only connected four times. Dallas Goedert, one of the league’s top tight ends, has only caught six passes for 22 yards. Hurts’ chemistry with his top three pass catchers hasn’t been in sync to start the season, and it’s going to be a tough task again Monday as Tampa Bay’s defense has allowed 17 points per game to begin the season. 
  2. Will Baker continue hot start? Tampa Bay is looking to start 3-0 for the first time since 2005. Baker Mayfield has played a big part in the Bucs’ wins over the Vikings and Bears. Mayfield has had time in the pocket to find Mike Evans, who has 237 receiving yards in two weeks. Plus, an emerging dual-threat running back in Rachaad White benefits Mayfield in the passing game. White is arguably coming off his best game in his career with 103 scrimmage yards on 22 touches. Philadelphia’s daunting pass rush with Jalen Carter, Fletcher Cox and Haason Reddick will try to disrupt Mayfield, who's been one of the best QBs under pressure in 2023. The Bucs QB has a 75.0 completion percentage under pressure, which is the best among qualified signal-callers, according to Next Gen Stats. A 3-0 start would bode well for Tampa Bay's postseason hopes, as the franchise has made the playoffs in each season it started undefeated through three games (1979, 2000 and 2005), per NFL Research. 
  3. D’Andre Swift vs. Todd Bowles’ defense. Getting the ball to Swift in Week 2 was the game plan for the Eagles. He ran for a career-high 175 yards and one touchdown in his hometown debut at Lincoln Financial Field. Kenneth Gainwell is in line to be in the mix this week after missing action due to a rib injury. In Week 1, Gainwell had 14 carries, while Swift only carried the ball once. Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni told reporters that he’s going to “ride the hot hand” on the RB workload. So, Swift is expected to get a chance to showcase his skills once again against a Tampa Bay defense that has allowed an average of only 54 rushing yards per game. The Eagles are the only team in front of the Bucs in that category, allowing an average of 52 yards per game.
Los Angeles Rams
2023 · 1-1-0
Cincinnati Bengals
2023 · 0-2-0

  1. Rams, Bengals meet for the first time since Super Bowl LVI. The Rams are 1-1 coming off a tough loss against the 49ers. Meanwhile, the Bengals are 0-2 for the fourth time under head coach Zac Taylor. Matthew Stafford is in line to start for the Rams, but on the other side, Joe Burrow (calf) is questionable heading into Monday’s game. In two games, Stafford has thrown for 641 yards for one touchdown and two interceptions. Burrow has had less-than-ideal start to the season, completing 56.9 percent of his passes for 304 yards and two touchdowns, and now is dealing with his aggravated calf injury. If Stafford and Burrow start, it would be the 23rd time the same QBs that started in the Super Bowl play against one another again. The Super Bowl-winning team and QB are 11-11 during those initial rematches, per NFL Research. 
  2. Time to panic about the Bengals' slow start? Cincinnati is in familiar territory to start the season record-wise, but Burrow's calf injury could linger all season if not healed right. If Burrow is not able to suit up, the Bengals will lean on backup Jake Browning, who would be making his first career start. Luckily for Browning, he’s surrounded by talented players in Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Joe Mixon. But going against Aaron Donald is no joke. The Bengals' playmakers will need to shake off their early struggles. Mixon enters Monday’s game as the only Bengal to reach 100-plus scrimmage yards in the two games played this season. Perhaps the Bengals can lean on the run game early to open up the passing game. One way or another, Cincy needs to scheme both Chase and Higgins because the Bengals need all contributors to get open for whoever is under center in hopes of getting a much-needed win at home.
  3. Youth movement on display for Rams. Entering the 2023 season, many expected Stafford and Cooper Kupp to carry the offense. That narrative changed when Kupp was placed on injured reserve due to a hamstring injury before the season-opener. Surprisingly, Sean McVay’s offensive unit is riding high with 812 total yards, the Rams' second-most total yards through Week 2 since the head coach took over in 2017, per NFL Research. Fifth-round pick Puka Nacua is making an immediate impact and is coming off a game in which he had 15 receptions, the most by a rookie in a single game in NFL history. In the backfield, Los Angeles moved on from Cam Akers last week when they traded the RB to Minnesota. It's now Kyren Williams' backfield, and he’s done a solid job so far leading the Rams. With Akers inactive in Week 2, Williams had his first 100-plus scrimmage yard game against a tough 49ers defense and finished the week with an NFL-best four scrimmage TDs. A young duo of Nacua and Williams will share the spotlight under the bright lights on Monday.

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