It has been some year for the Los Angeles Rams. They kickstarted their campaign with comfortable wins against the Bears, Colts and the Buccaneers before suffering a loss to divisional rivals, the Arizona Cardinals. A midseason three game losing streak against the Titans, 49er’s and Green Bay Packers had people questioning Sean McVay’s side and their credibility at having a genuine shot at winning the Conference Championship, let alone the Super Bowl. Following the Packers defeat they won six on the bounce before succumbing once again to the 49er’s in the last game of the regular season. The Rams weren’t sitting on their hands this season and added two star men in Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. to their ranks midseason. Both players have performed well and certainly played their part in helping the franchise push forward for Super Bowl glory.
Where do the Rams look strong?
The first name on the has to be Cooper Kupp. The proud owner of the triple crown for receiving yards, receptions and touchdowns, the man has set the league on fire. During the postseason he hasn’t slowed up either, recording 386 yards, 25 receptions and four touchdowns in three games. He is the heart and soul of the LA offence so the Bengals will be sure to keep very close tabs on him. That being said, you can’t ignore OBJ, Van Jefferson or Tyler Higbee either. Beckham Jr. had a standout game last weekend against the 49er’s completing nine catches for 113yards which is his biggest return in a game since week 2 of the 2019 season when he put up 161 yards against the New York Jets. Obviously, Quarterback Matt Stafford deserves a mention. It's the first time in his 13 year long career that he’s in the play-offs, let alone the Super Bowl but his performances of late have been assured and assertive which is just what you’re after for testing games. Boasting a 72% completion rate, six touchdowns and 905yards including 703 yards in the last two matches, it appears Stafford is more than ready for his first Super Bowl appearance.
No triple crowner’s on defence but the triple threat of Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Jalen Ramsey gives you enough to think about when scheming a game plan to neutralise or at least partially deal with those three. The rushing prowess of Aaron Donald and Von Miller has seen the pair combine for 21 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 6 tackles for a loss (TFL) and -24 yards when sacking the QB so far this postseason. The D-line has stood firm against the run, only allowing 162 yards on the ground meanwhile the Rams secondary has coped well with the aerial threat of the Cardinals, Bucs and 49ers thus far. Sean McVay’s men have only allowed 65 completions from 116 attempted passes in the last three games (56.04%) and registered four interceptions in the process. Darious Williams has actually been LA’s most efficient defender and his record of 16 tackles, including 10 solo as well as two passes defended and one TFL gives you an idea of just how dominant this defence is across the board.
Where do Rams look vulnerable?
Identifying weaknesses in a team that has made it to the Super Bowl is by no means a simple task and honestly there isn’t much to pick out when analysing the Rams performances. Two areas that could be a cause for concern would be Matt Stafford’s interception record. He threw 17 in 17 games during the regular season but has only thrown one in three so far in the postseason. The Bengals defence boasts six INT’s to this point and will be eager to add more to their total. The other negative for this LA Rams side is there ability to run the ball effectively. Cam Akers somehow fought back from a torn achilles in July to be ready to play this postseason and he’s done well but the run game just isn’t quite working out for the Rams, as between Akers and Sonny Michel they are averaging just 76 yards per game. Neither has scored a touchdown yet either. If they can get the run game flowing and wear down this Bengals defence they will be much better off for it in the air in the latter stages.
The Rams are favourites heading into this fixture and look well balanced on both sides of the ball. They’ll be a tough side to stop going forward with Cooper Kupp and OBJ building more chemistry each week meanwhile Von Miller, Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey are a defensive nightmare for opposition coaches. In terms of outright quality and having a combination of the right people at the right time, the Rams won’t ever be better placed to get themselves a Super Bowl ring.