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The Big Game, AKA the Super Bowl, is right around the corner. The game features the veteran Los Angeles Rams who are making their 2nd appearance in 5 years and the Cincinnati Bengals making their first appearance since 1988. The two teams have battled through a tough playoff schedule to reach the Big Game, so the Chefs are looking to continue their breakdown of the big game. We will go position by position to see who has the advantage.
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The Bengals and Rams are surprisingly evenly matched. The quarterback position is no exception to the rule as both Matthew Stafford and Joe Burrow are playing good football at the right time. Stafford has taken his game to the next level in the playoffs after a rough patch down the stretch of the regular season. Stafford has 6 TDs and only 1 INT. But Burrow’s shown a next level toughness and resilience this playoffs. He’s been sacked the most by any QB this season with 63 sacks including the playoffs. He got sacked 9 times against the Titans and still won. He was down 21-3 in Arrowhead against Patrick Mahomes and still won. This is a tough one to really pick, but because of other factors I’ll give the slight edge to Stafford.
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The Rams have a two headed monster with Cam Akers and Sony Michel. Getting Akers back for the playoffs after that Achilles tears was huge. The Bengals have the most talented back of the group in Joe Mixon. Joe Mixon rushed for 1,205 yards and 13 TDs and has become a lethal weapon catching the ball out of the backfield. Mixon won’t find a lot of room to run against the Rams, the passing game is where he’ll do his damage. The Akers-Michel committee is dangerous because of the depth and waves they can hit you with. This is a close matchup, but I’d call this one a draw because of game plan and edge to Bengals on pure talent.
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I think of all the positions, this is clearly the most evenly matched and it comes down to preference. If not for the Robert Woods injury, I’d give the slight edge to the Rams. The Rams WR core is still lethal with Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr. and Van Jefferson. The Bengals’ have the 2nd best WR in the league this year in Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins’ chemistry with Burrow just gets better with each game. Tyler Boyd is better than Van Jefferson at the 3rd WR spot, but Beckham s a former #1 is better than Higgins in my opinion. It’s the depth vs the top heavy. It’s a draw for me.
RW: Tyler Higbee and C.J. Uzomah are both limping into the Super Bowl with MCL sprains. Both TEs are questionable to play, but Uzomah has vowed to play. They both aren’t elite TEs, Higbee is the better blocker as Drew Sample handles most of the blocking duties. Higbee is a slightly better pass catcher because of how he’s used in the Rams system, but Uzomah has come up big this season. Uzomah has a chance to make a big impact if he’s covered by LBs.
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This is a no doubt advantage for the Rams. The Rams’ offensive line has been one of the best groups all season. Led by Walter Payton Man of the Year and former Bengal T Andrew Whitworth and T Rob Havenstein, the Rams have given up only 31 sacks in the regular season. The Bengals allowed 67 total sacks including the playoffs and Burrow has taken 63 of those 67 sacks. And I mentioned that Burrow was sacks 9 times in the playoff game against the Titans.
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Aaron Donald has a legitimate shot to win Super Bowl MVP. Hw has taken over both playoff games against the Bucs and 49ers with his stellar play. He is the most double teams lineman in the game and still has one of the highest win rates. Having Von Miller (former Super Bowl MVP) and Leonard Floyd on the outside makes this line a nightmare for the Bengals (see the Offensive Line section). The Rams have generated 50 sacks in the regular season. The Bengals have a good defensive line, with outside rushers Trey Hendrickson/Sam Hubbard and D.J. Reeder /B.J. Hill on the inside. Their defense has generated 42 sacks this season, this will be a matchup of teams with excellent edge rushers.
The Bengals’ inside linebacker group isn’t one of the best in the league, but neither is the Rams. Both team defenses' weaknesses are at the linebacker positions. The Bengals’ Logan Wilson is a solid tackler and Germaine Pratt has range in pass coverage. The Rams’ Troy Reeder is consistently picked on by other offenses, and the Bengals’ TEs should have the upper hand. The Bengals’ linebacker group is still better than the Rams’, with Troy Reeder becoming a frequent target for opposing teams. But Bengals’ Wilson and Pratt have been picked on by opposing offenses too.
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Both of these secondary units are difficult to throw against. The Bengals were able to lock up the Chiefs in the second half and when they are playing well they are tough. But the Rams have Jalen Ramsey and the Bengals have Eli Apple. Ramsey is arguably the best cornerback in the game and will be shadowing Ja’Marr Chase. CB Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton are good enough to play the run and cover WRs. Apple has actually played really well in the playoffs. But Ramsey gives the Rams the edge in the backend.
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The Rams’ special teams groups is one of the more consistent groups in the NFL. The field position game is huge in these types of closely matched teams and Johnny Hekker gives the Rams an advantage. Kevin Huber has struggled this season and got worse as the season has gone on. Matt Gay got his first Pro Bowl selection and is sold, but Rookie Evan McPherson hasn’t missed yet in the playoffs. McPherson has been clutch for the Bengals this postseason, kicking game winners like it’s practice. Brandon Powell has found a home at punt returner. As as a whole, the Rams’ special teams unit is better than the Bengals, but don’t be in a close game with McPherson ready to kick.