Super Bowl Preview: Rams vs Bengals


By Cooper Woodward, Reporter

This 2021-2022 NFL postseason has definitely been one to remember — from the Tampa Bay-Rams game to the insane two days of divisional-round football, and everything in between. The playoffs have come down to one game, however: Bengals vs Rams. Stafford vs Burrow. Ramsey Vs Chase. For all the marbles of the season.

First, let’s explain how both teams got to the finals in the first place.

Cincinnati Bengals 

Their road to the Super Bowl started about 14 months ago on November 22nd, 2020 — Bengals @ WFT. It’s 3rd and 2, and Joe Burrow steps back in the pocket and throws deep, but the pass was dropped by receiver Tyler Boyd. On that play, WFT Defensive Ends Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat collapsed on Burrow, tearing the QB’s ACL and MCL, effectively ending the young QB’s season and the Bengals chances to contend in 2020.

The Bengals finished 4-11-1 in 2020, missing the playoffs and landing the #5 overall pick in that season’s draft. However, the 2021 Cincinnati Bengals draft class maybe had the biggest factor on why the Bengals are where they are today. That class consisted of WR Jamar Chase, K Evan McPherson, Tackle Jackson Carman, and so many others that helped this team succeed in 2021. A fairly popular opinion that many people had going into the season is that the Bengals should have taken Offensive Lineman Penei Sewell out of the University of Oregon instead of wide receiver Jamar Chase out of Louisiana State University, who previously played with QB Joe Burrow at college and won a National Championship at LSU. General Manager Duke Tobin and Head Coach Zach Taylor made the unpopular choice to take Chase over Sewell. A lot of people thought that they should have taken Sewel (myself included). But we were all proved wrong in 2021 when Chase balled out, sporting a stat line of 81 receptions for 1,455 yards and 13 receiving TD’s averaging 18 yards per reception. Joe Burrow also had an incredibly good 2021, sporting 4,611 passing yards and throwing for 34 touchdowns while having a 70.4% completion percentage and only 14 interceptions.

The Bengals were 9-6 going into week 17, when they took down the Kansas City Chiefs on the road to clinch their first AFC North title since 2015. They had done it — they went from not winning the AFC North in 6 seasons, being the bottom of the North for 5 of those 6 years, and losing their rookie quarterback to an ACL injury to becoming division champions. Their first home playoff game in 6 years was played against the Las Vegas Raiders, a team who also has not been to the postseason for almost half a decade. The Bengals went on to win the Wild Card Round vs the Raiders, the Divisional Round vs the Titans, and the AFC Championship against the Chiefs, completing their road to the Super Bowl. 

Los Angeles Rams 

The Rams’ road to the Super Bowl began on Jan 3rd, 2020. The Rams were playing the Arizona Cardinals for a spot in the playoffs. They ended up winning, earning themselves the #6 seed in that year’s post-season and a date with their division rival Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card Round. That game was one to remember, as backup QB John Wolford got hurt and the majority-injured QB Jared Goff stepped in. Goff delivered, going 9-19, 155 yards, and one touchdown in a 30-20 win. The Rams eventually lost 32-18 to the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round. We didn’t know it yet. but that was the last time Jared Goff would ever suit up as an L.A. Ram.

Fast forward two weeks later, and probably one of the biggest trades of the last decade occurred. Long-time Detroit Lion Matthew Stafford announced that himself and the Lions had mutually agreed to part ways, then Rams General Manager Les Snead hopped on the phone with Detroit and got the team a shot at the future hall-of-famer. He did come with a steep price, requiring the Rams to sacrifice QB (at the time) Jared Goff, a third-round pick for the 2021 draft, and 2 first-round picks for 2022 and 2023. With that trade, however, the Rams went from slightly above-average to a Super Bowl contender, and some may even say a Super Bowl favorite.

The Rams had some key departures in the offseason, including Defensive Coordinator Brandon Staley, Safety John Johnson to the Cleaveland Browns, Tight End Gerald Everett to the Seattle Seahawks, and Wide Receiver Josh Reynolds to the Detroit Lions. Despite all of these challenges, the Rams continued to perform at a high level, and Stafford cemented himself as an MVP candidate and the team’s QB of the future. The Rams went on to finish 12-5 in the regular season, handling the Cardinals at home in the Wild Card round, beating the defending champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in ridiculous fashion, and coming back to beat their division rival, the San Francisco 49ers, in the NFC Championship after being down 17-7 in the first 3 quarters to complete their road to the Super Bowl. 

My Prediction

While both teams are incredibly talented and deserve to be in the Super Bowl, I believe one team is the clear favorite: the L.A. Rams, due to their strong defensive line and the Bengal’s weak offensive line. This claim is supported by a past playoff game. In the Bengals’ divisional-round game, Burrow was sacked almost 10 times against a decent to above-average Titans’ defensive line. The Bengals are not facing any ordinary defensive line, however — they are facing the 3-headed monster of Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd, and Von Miller. Donald has nearly 100 sacks as an interior D-Lineman, Floyd has 38, and Miller has over 110 in a decade playing with Denver and L.A. The Bengals’ offensive line has been bad for a while now, and I don’t expect their line to hold up against the Rams.