Super Bowl Preview: Rams vs Bengals
Fans have probably needed a little bit of a break after two intense and compelling weeks of NFL playoff action in the Divisional Round and the Conference Championships. But Super Bowl week is here and it’s time to start taking a closer look at the matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams. Let’s take a look at the most important variables that will likely decide Super Bowl LVI between the Bengals and Rams.
Can the Bengals Protect Joe Burrow?
The offensive line has been an issue for the Bengals all season. Joe Burrow was sacked 51 times in 16 games while backup Brandon Allen was sacked another four times in limited action. Somehow, Cincinnati was able to survive conceding nine sacks in the Divisional Round against the Titans before. Of course, the Bengals were able to work around that issue in the AFC Championship Game with Burrow only taking one sack thanks to some quick passes and some scrambles. However, the Cincinnati offensive line faces its toughest test of the season in the Super Bowl. Not only do the Rams boast Aaron Donald at the line of scrimmage, but they also have Von Miller and Leonard Floyd, who are two of the best outside rushers in the NFL. It’s asking a lot of the offensive line to keep those three contained all game. As we saw in last year’s Super Bowl, a poor offensive line can make it impossible for an offense to function.
Matthew Stafford’s Ball Security
To some extent, Stafford is a high-risk, high-reward quarterback. When he’s playing well, the Los Angeles offense can look like a well-oiled machine. For the most part, Stafford has played at a high level during the playoffs, completing 72 of his 100 passes for 905 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 9.1 yards per pass. But he had some issues with ball security late in the regular season. Stafford threw seven interceptions over the final three games of the regular season, spoiling otherwise solid performances. The Rams, as a team, also turned it over four times in the Divisional Round, nearly blowing a big lead against the Buccaneers. If Stafford can play turnover-free football, the Rams will feel good about their chances in the Super Bowl. However, if Stafford is careless and throws a couple of picks, it would easily swing things the other way.
Answers in the Secondary?
There’s no question that both the Rams and Bengals have high-level offensive skill players. For the Rams, Cooper Kupp was the most productive wide receiver in the league this season. Also, Odell Beckham Jr. had a resurgence after signing with the Rams late in the season. On the other side of the ball, the emergence of rookie Ja’Marr chase helped give the Bengals one of the best receiving trios in the league alongside Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. But it’s possible that both teams have potential answers in the secondary. Los Angeles cornerback Jalen Ramsey could potentially blanket one of Cincinnati’s receivers, most likely Chase. On the other side, Cincinnati safety Jessie Bates is playing some of the best football of his career and could make a game-changing play if Stafford isn’t careful with his passes.
Making a Pick
The best way for fans to make a pick in this game is to think about how much they trust Stafford and how confident they are that the Bengals can overcome their offensive line issues. Each team’s secondary will be a potential X-factor against a set of outstanding receivers. However, how you feel about Stafford executing or the Bengals protecting Burrow will tell you who to pick in the Super Bowl.
As for my personal choice, the Super Bowl is in L.A. The RAMS get to play in their home stadium, with Dr. Dre, Snoop, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar at halftime. Oh and another L.A. native – Jhene Aiko – performing America the Beautiful. What do you think?
Westside Fo Life! Dubs up! RAMS.