Three keys: How the Bengals can beat the Rams in Super Bowl LVI

SoFi stadium before the Bengals take on the Rams in Super Bowl LVI
SoFi stadium before the Bengals take on the Rams in Super Bowl LVI(WXIX)
Published: Feb. 13, 2022 at 4:35 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (Cincinnati Enquirer) - The Cincinnati Bengals are getting ready to face the Los Angeles Rams for the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

As the game gets closer, the story lines are aplenty. From Bengals’ head coach Zac Taylor facing his former colleague in Rams’ head coach Sean McVay to Joe Burrow against Matthew Stafford, there’s a ton of angles for Super Bowl 56.

Since the Bengals arrived on Tuesday, the team has spent the week getting acclimated to the heat and their workplace for the week. At this point, the game plan is set and the final minutes before the game are about combing over the details. Taylor has kept meeting and practices times the same in hopes to make this week similar to every other game week.

Despite winning their last three games and overcoming multiple score deficits, the Bengals enter Sunday’s game as the underdog, once again. Whether it’s the star power the Rams have or the notion they are playing at their home stadium, the Bengals find themselves in a place they’ve been all season – overlooked.

Here’s how the Bengals beat the Rams:

Protect Joe Burrow at all costs

The Rams have loaded up on their defensive line in hopes to try and put their opponents’ quarterback under pressure all game. Los Angeles general manager Les Snead and McVay traded for veteran pass rusher Von Miller in the middle of the season to pair with All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd.

The Bengals allowed 51 sacks of Burrow in the regular season and 12 more during the playoffs. Los Angeles finished No. 3 in the NFL in sacks with 51 on the year.

Donald and Miller have combined for 3.5 sacks in the playoffs. In order for the Bengals to play the style of game they want to play where Burrow has time to find his weapons and extend plays with his legs, he needs time.

Taylor and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan will likely implement a game plan to get the ball out of Burrow’s hands quickly. If this is the case, expect screens to be a big part of the game and wide receiver Tyler Boyd and running back Joe Mixon would be the players to keep an eye on to be productive.

Eliminate explosive plays to Cooper Kupp

If the Bengals can eliminate explosive plays to Cooper Kupp, the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year this season, they should be in good shape.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. can make plays on short and intermediate routes, but he’s not as much of a threat down the field as Kupp.

Stafford has been prone to turn the ball over at times this year and Cincinnati’s defense has been one of the most opportunistic defensive units in the playoffs. Bengals cornerbacks Mike Hilton and Chidobe Awuzie need to play well in their roles to keep Kupp’s production to a minimum.

Get out to a fast start on offense

McVay is one of the best coaches in the NFL when he has a lead. He’s lost only one game when he’s leading at the half in five seasons as a head coach.

The Rams’ roster is built to play with a lead and if the Bengals can stress Los Angeles’ defense by jumping out to a lead, it will force the Rams into a different game plan.

When Cincinnati’s offense is rolling early, it is one of the hardest teams in the NFL to beat.

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