There is one tremendous mismatch in the Super Bowl.
On the one hand, the Bengals have faced Myles Garrett, T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, Nick Bosa, Joey Bosa, Jeffrey Simmons, Chris Jones, and a slew of other gifted pass rushers this season.
On the other hand, they will have to deal with the best defensive player in the game (Aaron Donald), a Hall of Famer and Super Bowl MVP (Von Miller), and another premier player in Leonard Floyd, who has 20 sacks over his first two seasons with the Rams.
Meanwhile, Ja’Marr Chase will likely be covered by arguably the best cornerback in the game, Jalen Ramsey, meaning, quarterback Joe Burrow will have to hesitate before quickly throwing it up in hopes that his favorite big-play target will win his matchup.
Against the Tennessee Titans, the Bengals allowed Burrow to play his game. As a result, he threw for 348 yards and an average of 9.7 yards per attempt but was sacked nine games.
Against the Kansas City Chiefs, meanwhile, Zac Taylor and Brian Callahan decided to dial back the downfield shots and instead ask the quarterback to check down to running backs or receivers. They also ran quite often on first down. All of this was to protect Burrow and allow him to make late-game plays with his arm and his legs, which he did.
So what will they do in the Super Bowl?
Pro Football Focus’ Seth Galina wrote an interesting piece on the matchup. He argues that the Rams’ front five might actually present a schematic advantage for the Bengals. Galina states that Los Angeles plays with five down defensive linemen on early downs, something the Bengals have not yet encountered this season.
While those defensive linemen have a clear talent advantage over Cincinnati’s offensive linemen, the fact is, this five-man look will open up the middle of the field, between the linemen and the secondary. The second level of the defense will not be able to handle the quick passing game of Burrow and his plethora of weapons.
Galina notes that Burrow finished fourth in the entire NFL on quick-game passing concepts, while the Rams allowed the seventh-most expected points added (EPA) per play on quick-game concepts in the regular season. He suggests that the Bengals run enough to make sure Los Angeles stays in five-man fronts, something the Rams are more comfortable with anyway. Read the entire article for some fascinating insight.
And check out our Super Bowl preview with Rams reporter Arash Markazi. We discussed the impact of Donald, Miller, and Jalen Ramsey, who Markazi believes will end up the Super Bowl MVP:
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