This was not the matchup we expected when the NFL Playoff began a month ago. We did not expect the number one seeds (Green Bay and Tennessee) to bow out so early. The number two seeds (Tampa Bay and Kansas City) followed suit and were eliminated. As a result, we are left with the Los Angeles Rams (NFC 4th seed) versus the Cincinnati Bengals (AFC 6th seed).
The Rams were built for this scenario as it mortgaged the future by trading future high draft picks for the likes of QB Matt Stafford, WR Odell Beckham Jr, CB Jalen Ramsey, and DL Von Miller.
The Bengals arrived to the party early as they started a rebuilding project last season while winning just four games. Quarterback Joe Burrow sped up the project as he, in just his second year, is one of the top five signal callers in the game.
Football typically comes down to matchups. There are a number of key matchups between the two teams. The winners of the matchups will likely determine the winner of the game.
In the end, I believe the matchup between the Bengals’ offensive line and the Rams’ defensive line is the most important one. Burrow absorbed a record nine sacks in the Bengals’ win over Tennessee earlier this postseason. Kansas City did not get to Burrow once last week and Burrow excelled. Aaron Donald highlights one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL. Cincinnati has to keep their star quarterback on his feet.
Another matchup to keep an eye on is Bengals Ja’Marr Chase versus Ramsey. Chase is clearly one of the league’s best pass-catchers and Ramsey has long been considered one of the game’s top cover men. Chase has made amazing plays against virtually everyone in his rookie campaign, but Ramsey is no stranger to stopping the game’s best receivers.
We have an interesting coaching matchup. Zac Taylor of the Bengals emerged from under McVay in Los Angeles, and now he has a chance to beat his mentor. McVay is often called a genius with his offensive play calling. Taylor deserves similar recognition for getting this roster to a Super Bowl.
I could see this game going a number of different ways. Los Angeles has star power but often struggle for short periods of time. They’ve now survived two straight playoff wins by slim margins. But so have the Bengals with their young roster.
The Rams are slight favorites and I feel they will pull out another close game. The offenses are basically even but Los Angeles has the better defense.
Take the Rams.