5 takeaways from Eagles-Buccaneers, Bengals-Rams Monday Night Football doubleheader

Philadelphia stymied Tampa Bay 25-11 while Cincinnati edged Los Angeles 19-16

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Two straight Mondays with double the NFL action.

After the New Orleans Saints-Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns-Pittsburgh Steelers doubleheader in Week 2, Week 3 concluded with the Philadelphia Eagles at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Rams at the Cincinnati Bengals.

Philadelphia and Tampa Bay kicked things off first, with the former showing its Super Bowl quality. The Eagles' defense didn't give Baker Mayfield and Co. a sniff while the offense was functional in a 25-11 win.

In the second game, Cincinnati just edged Los Angeles 19-16 in a battle dominated by defenses to avoid a rough 0-3 start.

Let's dive into five takeaways to analyze the doubleheader:

Buccaneers' true level becomes evident

Tampa Bay got off to a 2-0 start, but the wins came against the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears. Those teams are now both 0-3. The Eagles then came into town and showed the Buccaneers their true level this season: a middle-of-the-pack team.

Baker Mayfield completed just 15 of 25 passes for 145 yards, one touchdown and one pick while Rachaad White struggled on the ground, collecting 38 yards on 14 attempts. Mike Evans led the receiving department with five catches for 60 yards and a touchdown, including a slick one-handed grab in traffic.

The Buccaneers can surely grab a playoff spot given the NFC South is quite substandard, but don't expect them to do any serious damage against the elites.

Eagles slowly picking up form

Philadelphia faced some criticism and doubts after its dull 2-0 start, but Monday illustrated this team is far from its peak. Jalen Hurts didn't have the best day throwing, completing 23 of 37 passes for 277 yards, one touchdown and two picks to go with a rushing touchdown off a QB sneak. But he remained composed in the pocket and delivered key passes when needed, and D'Andre Swift impressed yet again with 130 rushing yards on 16 carries.

The defense also held Tampa Bay to 174 yards while the offense totaled 472. The scoreboard could've been much worse for the Bucs had Hurts not thrown two picks. Philadelphia will next host the 2-1 Washington Commanders and have a real shot at starting 4-0.

Ja'Marr Chase comes alive at an opportune time

Chase, who has been a 1,000-plus-yard receiver in each of his first two seasons, started 2023 with a five-catch, 39-yard game in Week 1 and a five-catch, 31-yard game in Week 2. He erupted for 12 catches and 141 receiving yards on 15 targets against Los Angeles to be a real difference maker for Cincinnati.

And Chase chose the right time to roar to life, too, given Tee Higgins' injury after logging just two catches for 21 yards in what has been a bizarre first couple of weeks for a Bengals offense stacked with options.

Rams skill players stifled by Bengals' defense

On the other hand, the Rams finally looked like a team without Cooper Kupp wreaking havoc. Rookie breakout Puka Nacua had just four catches for 35 yards before a 37-yard reception late in the fourth helped the Rams get into the red zone. They eventually made it 19-16 with about a minute to go, but the Bengals were just all over whatever Sean McVay and Co. wanted to do.

Tutu Atwell had just four catches for 50 yards, including the late touchdown grab. Kyren Williams didn't fare any better on the ground, either, rushing for 38 yards on 10 carries.

The Rams also completed just one of 11 third-down attempts, with the sole conversion coming on Atwell's one-yard touchdown grab on 3rd-and-goal.

Joe Burrow vs. Matthew Stafford matchup massively disappoints

It's unfair to ask for much from Burrow on an injured calf, but you really couldn't tell this matchup featured two of the NFL's best pocket passers. Burrow completed 26 of 49 passes for 259 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. The calf injury evidently limited his mobility in the pocket and Cincinnati compensated with several quick-release plays, but it was far from pretty.

Stafford had it worse, with his offensive line doing little to aid the situation. He completed just 18 of 33 passes for 269 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, each caught by Logan Wilson. The Bengals also sacked Stafford six times and recorded 10 QB hits.

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