The Cincinnati Bengals have done so many things this season that no one thought they were capable of doing. Making the Super Bowl is a phenomenal feat, and it’s no accident that the Bengals are playing in this game. They’ve taken care of business with incredible consistency over the past two months. Here is how they can do that for one more game.
Win the Turnover battle
The Bengals have emphasized this throughout the season. Early on it was a struggle on both sides of the ball, but over the last several weeks the defense has been able to generate turnovers and Joe Burrow has been much safer with his throws.
For all of his talents, Matthew Stafford throws a lot of balls with turnover potential. The Bengals must take advantage of these opportunities. Stafford seems to get anxious and throw more dangerous balls the longer he is in the pocket, so the Bengals should rush three or four and allow the coverage to make plays on the ball.
Come on, Eli Apple! We believe in you!
Win the Middle Eight
The Bengals have been excellent in this area all year, and it needs to continue for them to get fitted for Super Bowl rings. They need to finish the first half with a score and be the first to score in the second half. Regardless of how the game goes early on, this will set them up to win the game.
They have been a second half team all season. They must keep it up for one more week.
Copious Coverage of Cooper
Although Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce were more productive in the AFC Championship than they were the first time the Bengals met the Chiefs, Cincinnati did a great job of taking them away in key situations. They need to do the same with Cooper Kupp this week.
It’s not strictly a matter of double-teaming him, it’s making sure that they take away his favorite routes on third downs and in the red zone. While the Rams have other talented players, not the least of which is Odell Beckham Jr., they are not the guys Sean McVay and Co. try to beat you with. Taking away the Offensive Player of the Year in these key moments will go a long way towards bring the Lombardi home to Cincinnati.
Burrow Magic and Consistency
Burrow is known for shining brightest on the biggest stages. Well, it doesn’t get any bigger than this one. For the Bengals to win the Super Bowl, their quarterback must be playing his best football. They need to get Burrow cooking.
This is a delicate balance, though. You can’t push too hard. You have to get in the zone without trying to force things and making mistakes. It’s much easier said than done, but that’s why the Bengals drafted players like Burrow along with Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. They have been in these big situations before. They may not have been in the NFL long, but they all have plenty of experience playing big-time championship football.
A big part of that will be giving him enough time to throw. The offensive line faces a great challenge this week from the Rams defensive front, and the greatest challenge is Aaron Donald. He is an extraordinary player and terrifying matchup for a Bengals’ line that has struggled with interior pass rushers. They have got to figure something out.
The Bengals have faced some of the league’s best pass rushes this season, and although Burrow has taken plenty of punishment, the Bengals have been able to come out on top. If they can give him just enough protection to get it done for one more week, they will solidify their place in NFL history.