Cincinnati Bengals: Monday Night Football Begins Time Without Ja'Marr Chase
Without injured star receiver Ja'Marr Chase (hip), the Bengals (4-3) will visit the Browns (2-5) in an AFC North battle on Monday Night Football.
The Bengals have not placed Chase on injured reserve and hope he can return within the next four weeks. However, Chase has never missed a game since he was drafted last year and playing without him over the next few weeks will be a challenge for Cincinnati's offense.
Chase burst into the NFL last year with 82 catches for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns as a rookie and is having another superb season through seven games (47 catches, 605 yards, six touchdowns).
Quarterback Joe Burrow will have to adjust, while wide receivers Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd and tight end Hayden Hurst will be asked to pick up the slack. Head Coach Zac Taylor expressed confidence that the offense will remain explosive.
"Our receivers have always been movable," Taylor said via Geoff Hobson of the team's website. "It's not just Ja'Marr playing X, Tee is Z, TB (Boyd) is F. They get moved around all the time. So they've always had to have intimate knowledge of the playbook because they can be put in anywhere and have to execute. So this doesn't really change anything for them. We're asking them to do things that they've always done."
A victory over the Browns would allow Cincinnati to keep pace with the Ravens (5-3) in the division race. Boyd, who had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019, has never shied away from carrying a heavier load and looked forward to becoming even more involved.
"I've proven myself. I've had my 1,000. I've shown I can win my matchups," Boyd said. "Tee and I both don't have to go for 200 yards to win the game. We just go out there, play-by-play, coaches are putting us in positions to win and we're going to go out there and win."
Cleveland Browns: Kareem Hunt Could Reportedly Be Traded Tuesday
The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday and the Browns are open to offers for running back Kareem Hunt, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Hunt could be playing his last game for the Browns on Monday Night Football. Cleveland's running attack is led by Nick Chubb, who's having another splendid season vying for the NFL rushing lead (740 yards) with Saquon Barkley (779 yards) and Derrick Henry (755). The 27-year-old Hunt has rushed for 263 yards and three touchdowns, but he's in the final year of his contract and wants a new deal.
Schefter has reported that the Browns want a fourth-round pick in any trade involving Hunt, or compensation that would be better than the compensatory pick they would receive in 2024 if they lose Hunt in free agency. If Hunt is traded, the Browns have proven backup D'Ernest Johnson to move into the No. 2 role behind Chubb.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Steelers Fall to 2-6 After 'Embarrassing' Loss
Having a bye week in Week 9 will give the Steelers (2-6) more time to reflect on their struggles. Following a 35-13 loss to the Eagles in Week 8, Pittsburgh's players were vocal about their sloppy play. The Steelers were called for nine penalties against the Eagles and have 12 pre-snap penalties this season, tied for ninth most in the NFL.
Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett called out his teammates for lack of preparation.
"Guys need to know what they're doing," Pickett said via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com. "We need to study more. I don't think we study enough as a group. There's way too many penalties and stuff like that which we can control. It's all mental. So, for that to happen, there's really no excuse for that. We have to figure that out and get it right."
Defensive tackle Cam Heyward wondered out loud if playing time should be taken away from players who aren't producing.
"Either you learn and are accountable or you're not going to play," Heyward said. "That goes for everybody. I'm not singling one guy out. We've all got to be accountable. Myself included."
Longtime Steelers.com writer Bob Labriola, among others, described the loss as "embarrassing."
Following their bye, the Steelers will host the Saints in Week 10.