The Los Angeles Rams are making their second Super Bowl appearance in four years, and this time, they look like a team that means business. Favored by 4.5 points, they’ve got just about everything going for them, even home-field advantage since Super Bowl LVI is happening at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. Despite the edge, they can’t afford to take anything for granted against an underdog Cincinnati Bengals team that was never supposed to be here. Here’s what the Rams will need to do to win the game.
It sounds simple, but it’s worth repeating—don’t turn the ball over. The Rams got off to a rough start against the 49ers in the NFC Championship. Quarterback Matthew Stafford had a pass tipped on the opening drive that resulted in an interception. The 49ers weren’t able to turn that into points, but the Bengals certainly could with the way their offense is playing. Cincinnati’s defense has been pretty good in the turnover department through the postseason too. They’re tied for the most takeaways of any post season team, with seven, and boast a +5 turnover differential.
All eyes are on Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp heading into this one, and why not, he’s been incredible week in and week out, one of the most exciting players in the game right now. However, the Bengals did an excellent job taking speedy Tyreek Hill out of the game plan for the Chiefs, and with slot corner Mike Hilton shadowing Kupp, they could do something similar against the Rams. So Los Angeles is going to have to lean on their other pass catchers a little more, starting with Odell Beckham, who’s coming off his first 100-yard+ performance since 2019.
Keep the Bengals defense honest with an aggressive ground game is another part of the plan. It’s no secret that Rams head coach Sean McVay likes to throw the ball, but making gains on early downs with their running backs, will create favorable matchups in the middle of the field on third-and-short situations, where the Rams can employ a variety of pass catching options. If Darrell Henderson is cleared to play, that would be great news for the Rams offense, making it impossible for the Bengals to dial in their focus against LA’s passin game.
Rams defense: Keys to limit Bengals offense
This one is pretty obvious—rush the passer, rinse and repeat. The biggest mismatch in this game is the Rams defensive line against Cincinnati’s pressure-prone pass protectors. Led by Aaron Donald, the Rams defensive front had 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo scrambling for his life in the second half of the NFC Championship. They may not have recorded a sack, but they didn’t need to since Garoppolo was pressured on every single pass he tried to throw in the fourth quarter. That eventually resulted in an interception.
Sure, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is great against pressure—he completed seven of 12 attempts under pressure against the Chiefs—but the Rams pressure at an entirely different level than the Chiefs.
The flip side of having a pass rush like that is leaving the middle part of the field vulnerable to Burrow’s incredible ability to get the ball out quick. He made Tee Higgins a household name against the Chiefs with those quick slants. So on top of bringing the heat, they’ll have to protect themselves against those kind of plays when the pass rushers can’t get home against Burrow.