The Cincinnati Bengals might be 0-2, but they would not be only 2-point home favorites for their Monday night home matchup against the 1-1 Los Angeles Rams – a rematch of Super Bowl 56 – if the sportsbooks and betting public expected Bengals star quarterback Joe Burrow to play through a calf injury. Burrow is essentially worth 7 points himself via oddsmakers to Cincinnati when healthy. It likely will be Jake Browning under center tonight.
Current leans at one major book show about 56% leans on the Rams spread in both handle and tickets. At +100 on the moneyline, LA is taking about 65% of handle and 55% of bets.
It sounds as if Burrow will be a true game-time call with the calf injury he aggravated in Week 2 – the former No. 1 overall pick originally hurt it very early in camp. Burrow hasn’t looked like himself yet, completing just 56.9% of his passes for 304 yards, two TDs and a pick for a rating of 70.6. Cincinnati ranks last in the NFL in yards per play at 3.8 and Burrow has had the shortest time to throw in the league at just 2.31 seconds.
That Cincy offensive line was a major problem in the Super Bowl 56 loss to LA (Burrow was sacked seven times) and while it largely has been overhauled since then, it’s still a problem. That doesn’t bode well for the inexperienced Browning, an undrafted free agent out of Washington in 2019 and former Pac-12 Player of the Year. His only career NFL pass attempt was a meaningless incompletion in the Week 1 loss to Cleveland.
This summer in camp, the backup job was between Trevor Siemian and Browning and it was the latter who came out on top in a surprise. He did play solid in the preseason, completing 32 of 45 passes for 277 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Browning also rushed for 55 yards on six attempts.
It sounds like the #RuleTheJungle will not even allow Burrow to be active if he can’t play and that may mean AJ McCarron is Browning’s backup. The Bengals personnel department reached out last week, McCarron came to Cincinnati for a tryout and the Bengals signed him to the practice squad Saturday. The former Alabama star began his NFL career with Cincinnati in 2015. He most recently played in the XFL.