Super Bowl: Veteran Rams vs. the rising Bengals

Super Bowl: Veteran Rams vs. the rising Bengals

LOS ANGELES — There’s a big gap between the rosters of the teams that will play in the Super Bowl.

The Rams are a bunch of veterans and the Bengals are the juniors. Los Angeles has the stars. Other than Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati doesn’t have any big-name players.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor worked under Rams quarterback Sean McVay — though Taylor is two years older than him.

Both teams finished as the fourth seed after winning their divisions, so there are some similarities.

Perhaps it is the differences that will end up making the difference this Sunday at SoFi Stadium, which incidentally is the new home of the Rams.


Burrow and Chase make up the dynamic duo from Cincinnati. Both played at LSU in college and nothing changed when Chase, who missed the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was taken fifth overall in last April’s draft. His impact has been immense, with 13 touchdowns on 81 receptions for 1,455 yards in the regular season.

Of course, Burrow has had a similar impact. He went 2-7-1 his rookie year, interrupted by a knee injury. His return was sensational, establishing himself as one of the most accurate passers in the NFL. He had 34 touchdown passes and, in the Bengals’ three playoff victories after not getting one since 1991, Burrow has completed 75 of 109 passes for 842 yards and four touchdowns, exhibiting tremendous ease in eluding opponents.

The key to the Rams being able to neutralize them depends on the siege work of their linebackers. Cincinnati allowed a league-high 51 quarterback tackles during the season and 12 more in the postseason.

They’ll have to somehow stop Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd and the reinvigorated Von Miller, the 2016 Super Bowl MVP. If the Bengals’ offensive line, featuring Jonah Williams, Isaiah Prince, Trey Hopkins and Quinton Spain, plus the Hakeem Adeniji and rookie Jackson Carman, don’t answer, Burrow will have a rough time.

If he gets the protection he’s so often lacked, the matchup between Chase and cornerback Jalen Ramsey could be epic. But Ramsey won’t always be on the lookout for Chase, who can slip through any route and has formidable teammates in receivers Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins.

In his seventh pro season, tight end CJ Uzomah has emerged as a danger card, but he hurt his knee last week and is doubtful.

Running back Joe Mixon, third in the league with 1,205 rushing yards, can wear down defenses, but the Rams were sixth against the rush.


Aside from the trades that added Miller and Ramsey on defense, the Rams have visibly beefed up their offense in recent years. They shielded themselves at left tackle five seasons ago with Andrew Whitworth, in force at 40 years old.

They recently added quarterback Matthew Stafford, running back Sony Michel and receiver Odell Beckham Jr. They’ve all contributed, but Stafford has been the biggest piece.

The Rams reached the 2019 Super Bowl under Jared Goff, but Stafford, in his 13th pro season, is way above it. After languishing with a mediocre Detroit team for 12 years, he has been the Rams’ linchpin this season.

Nobody knows how to respond better to the ‘blitz’ than Stafford. Although he can throw reckless passes and fumble the ball, he is also capable of astounding with his delivery.

Like Burrow, he has one of the best receivers in the league in Cooper Kupp. Opponents could put all 11 defenders to guard him and he’ll still find a way to break free. His triple crown of passes received supports him: 145 receptions for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has been unstoppable in the playoffs, and this could be a lopsided matchup. Eli Apple, Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton and Tre Flowers, the Bengals’ cornerbacks, will have their hands full.

Cincinnati is strong at safety with Vonn Bell, whose Patrick Mahomes interception set up the game-winning field goal in the AFC Finals, and Jessie Bates III. The group will also have to keep their eyes open to deal with Beckham, rejuvenated in LA and Van Jefferson (12).

Michel and Cam Akers, who quickly recovered from a torn Achilles tendon, will share duties on the carry. But this is a pass-first team, with pieces like Whitworth. The 16-year veteran will have to deal with Trey Hendrickson and defensive end Sam Hubbard, notable against the Chiefs.

The Bengals lack a linebacker of Miller’s caliber, but Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt have provided big plays in the postseason.


The essential player is rookie Evan McPherson. Taken in the fifth round of the draft, McPherson has made all 12 of his field goals, including four in the wild-card round, as well as game-winning touchdowns at Tennessee and Kansas City.

The Rams’ Matt Gay has been reliable and has also put up two straight field goals that sealed playoff wins.

Neither team is scary on punt returns.


Very interesting.

Taylor spent two years under McVay and didn’t reach coordinator status until the Bengals called him up in 2019. He went 6-25-1 in his first two seasons, but the Bengals were a rebuilding team. His work the last six weeks has been exemplary.

McVay is a model precocity as a strategist, at 36 years old. He is one of the geniuses of offensive tactics. His playmaking has been questioned, but the reality is that he has made the playoffs in four of five seasons and lost a Super Bowl three years ago.

There are two assistants who deserve praise. The defensive coordinator of the Bengals Lou Anarumo, who has done more without great figure, except Hendrickson. And Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, who like Anarumo has been considered to fill head-coaching vacancies.


The Rams were set up to win now. They have put all the meat on the grill this season, using their draft chips and spending a lot of money on signings.

They also have in mind his lackluster performance against New England in the 2019 Super Bowl.

For people who think the amazing Bengals should be satisfied just being here, it’s worth remembering that they’re 0-2 in the Super Bowl, losing each time to the dynasty 49ers in two close games. They also haven’t won a postseason game since 1991. What do they have to lose now?

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.For tips or news submission: