LOS ANGELES – February 12, 2022 – Brendon D. Miller
Super Bowl LVI will kick tomorrow at 6:30 Eastern with the possibility it could be an absolute classic. There is the clash of two first-pick-in-the-draft, former SEC QB1’s in Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford. Burrow has been spectacular in his 2nd season completing an NFL-high 70.4% of his passes, and can take on folk lore status with a win. Stafford has brought the Rams to the brink of completing the job they couldn’t quite finish three years ago in SB LIII.
We long suffering Bengals fans know that Who Dey is one of 12 franchises to never win a Super Bowl title.
Here are four things to watch in Super Bowl LVI:
- Can Stafford Do It? How does one go from being saddled with questions about an 0-for-the-playoffs track record to the brink of a Super Bowl ring? A move from the Lions to the Rams is a good start. Thanks to a run to the Super Bowl, Stafford will probably never again have to hear about his 0-3 playoff record with the Lions. Now, he’s got a chance to win a Championship. He is a great example in what a difference the right fit can make for a quarterback. If Stafford leads a Rams win with a big performance, he will have completely transformed perceptions of his postseason mettle in the space of one playoffs.
- The Coverage We Want to See. Apparently Jalen Ramsey wants Ja’Marr Chase. Rams defensive coordinator Rahim Morris hasn’t made a habit of shadowing his star cornerback, Ramsey, on the oposing team’s best receiver this season. Ramsey, of course, is asking for all the reps he can get against Chase, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the year. From the season opener, Chase proved to be one of the NFL’s elite deep threats, giving Burrow a dangerous target in the vertical passing game. Chase’s 512 receiving yards on deep balls thrown outside the numbers are the most in the NFL since at least 2016, per Next Gen Stats. Can Ramsey take that away? However, no matter the number of reps the two go head to head, there won’t be a more fun head-to-head matchup on the field than Chase versus Ramsey.
- Bengals Guard Spot. The Bengals’ pass protection against the Rams’ pass rush is a daunting matchup for Cincinnati, and the right guard position is the focus. Either it is Hakeem Adeniji, rookie Jackson Carman, or a combination of the two, it will be a challenge. Adeniji has been good throughout the season but struggled mightily in the Divisional Round against the Titans, and the two shared playing time in the Bengals’ AFC title win over the Chiefs. The position will be facing Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who posted yet another All-Pro season this year and could set up camp in the backfield with the position can not hold up. Donald moves around quite a bit on the Rams’ front, but when he’s lined up over right guard, Bengals fans should watch with one eye closed.
- Can the Rams Contain Joe Mixon? Keeping the aforementioned Rams pass rush off of Burrow will depend a lot on how effective Joe Mixon can be. The Bengals can do a lot with the versatile former Oklahoma star — he’s a tough runner inside, athletic enough to turn the corner on the perimeter, and highly capable receiver. The offensive line can keep itself out of dreaded third-and-long pass protection situations by getting Mixon good yardage on early downs. Burrow can also beat the pass rush with screens and quick dump-offs to Mixon, who caught 42 passes on the regular season. His 1,815 scrimmage yards (including playoffs) is a franchise record. That’s about 90 yards per game, and Cincinnati needs at least that much from him, probably more, to keep pace with the Rams.
What to watch: Stafford has the NFL’s best completion percentage (72.0), yards per attempt (8.7) and passer rating (125.9) in the fourth quarter this year, including playoffs.
Stat of the matchup: The Rams’ pass rush has intensified in the postseason, improving from a regular-season pressure rate of 26.6 to 31.7 in the playoffs. Von Miller (14 postseason pressures) has been a big part of that surge.
Going to be fun, follow our coverage from So-Fi on GameDay on Facebook on the BSN Page and on Twitter @Bgsportnation