The 2022 Super Bowl is shaping up to be an explosive matchup with plenty of fireworks. The Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals forged different paths to get to the big game, but both squads have earned the right to compete for the Lombardi Trophy.
The Rams and Bengals are an intriguing matchup on paper, and there will be plenty of big names sharing the field at SoFi Stadium. While there’s a path for either team to come out victorious, one should have the edge — the Rams.
Sean McVay’s squad has several things working in its favor that could prove pivotal to taking down the red-hot Bengals.
1. Home cooking at SoFi Stadium
A team will be playing in the Super Bowl in its home stadium for a second consecutive season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did it in 2020. The LA Rams will be the beneficiary in the 2022 Super Bowl. SoFi Stadium is sure to be rocking when the Rams and Bengals take the field.
How big of an advantage will LA have playing on its own turf?
LA went 7-3 at home in 2021, including the regular season and playoffs. The Bengals went 7-3 on the road, so they’ve played well situationally. Still, it’s difficult to imagine this Rams team letting the upstart Bengals come into their house and steal the Lombardi Trophy.
2. The Rams defensive front can cause problems for Cincinnati’s offensive line
The Bengals feature plenty of talent on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Joe Burrow has enjoyed a breakout season, bouncing back from a torn ACL and MCL that ended his rookie season. Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd head one of the most gifted skill positions groups in the NFL.
While Cincinnati’s offense can light up the scoreboard at any time, its biggest weakness could rear its ugly head in the 2022 Super Bowl.
The Bengals’ offensive line has been inconsistent throughout the 2021 season, which is generous. Its strong suit is in the run blocking department, paving the way for Mixon to rush for 1,205 yards and 13 touchdowns. However, Raheem Morris’ defense is one of the best in the league against the run.
Cincinnati’s front line struggles mightily in pass protection. The Bengals allowed an NFL-high 51 sacks on Burrow in the regular season and 12 in the postseason. That spells trouble against a menacing LA front seven, featuring Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Leonard Floyd.
3. The Bengals won’t have an answer for LA’s passing attack
The Bengals boast a high-powered offense, but the Rams have just as much talent on their side of the field. LA finished just behind Cincinnati in team offense, posting 372 yards and 27 points per game in the regular season.
The Rams gave their offense a significant boost by trading for Matthew Stafford in the offseason. The former Detroit Lions signal-caller had been impressive throughout the playoffs and will look to continue his success against a vulnerable Cincinnati secondary.
The Bengals gave up 248.3 passing yards per game to opposing offenses in the regular season. They also allowed 26 passing touchdowns on the season.
Lou Anarumo’s defense doesn’t have a player who can cover All-Pro wide receiver Cooper Kupp one-on-one. Kupp has been Stafford’s favorite weapon in 2021 (145 receptions for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns on 191 targets).
However, the Eastern Washington product isn’t the only weapon to account for. Odell Beckham Jr., Van Jefferson, and Tyler Higbee could do damage in this game. Expect Sean McVay and offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell to get everyone involved.
4. Sean McVay has been to the Super Bowl before
You can’t discredit how impressive the Cincinnati Bengals have been down the stretch. Zac Taylor’s squad knocked off some strong opponents in the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs. However, this Bengals team hasn’t been to the big game. Sean McVay has, and that experience could come into play in the 2022 Super Bowl.
The Rams were just in the Super Bowl in the 2018 season. They posted a 13-3 record in the regular season and continued their dominance in the postseason. However, LA ran into Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots. It was an ugly game, but the Patriots pulled out a 13-3 victory.
Losing the first time around served as a learning experience for McVay. He will take those lessons and apply them to Super Bowl 56.
Many players on the Rams will be playing in their first Super Bowl, but this squad still has a few guys from the 2018 team. Veterans Aaron Donald and Andrew Whitworth want to make sure they finish the deal this time. Von Miller won a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos, and his experience will also be valuable.
The Bengals had a great run, but the Rams are prime to get the job done on their home field.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.