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First Look: Rams square off with Bengals in Super Bowl LVI

The Rams square off against the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI for the right to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. For the Rams, it would be their first time doing so in Los Angeles; for the Bengals, it would be their first time in franchise history. Kickoff from SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. on Sunday is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. pacific time on NBC.

In advance of the contest, here is your First Look at Rams-Bengals, presented by Audi:

Notable Bengals additions

  • Drafted WR Ja'Marr Chase fifth overall in the 2021 NFL Draft: While Cincinnati received some scrutiny for drafting another receiver – it already had Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, and offensive line was perceived to be a greater need – Chase has proven them right with 81 catches for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns in the regular season and a pair of 100-yard receiving games during their run to the Super Bowl.
  • Signed DE Trey Hendrickson to 4-year deal in March 2021: After tying with Aaron Donald for second in the NFL in sacks in 2020, Hendrickson departed the Saints and signed with the Bengals as an unrestricted free agent. That production continued this past season with 14 sacks in the regular season (fifth-most in the NFL). Hendrickson has 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble, 6 total tackles and 4 QB hits in the playoffs.

Top performers in the AFC Championship

QB Joe Burrow completed 23 of 38 pass attempts for 250 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the Bengals' 27-24 overtime win over the Chiefs in Kansas City.

RB Joe Mixon paced the backfield with 21 carries for 88 yards.

Chase and Higgins each hauled in a team-high six catches; Chase added 54 yards and one touchdown while Higgins had a team-high 103 receiving yards. RB Samaje Perine (three catches for 43 yards) hauled in Burrow's other passing touchdown.

The Bengals defense picked off Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes twice and registered four sacks, led by DE Sam Hubbard's two.

On special teams, K Evan McPherson made all four of his field goal attempts – including the game-winner in overtime – while P Kevin Huber averaged 40.3 yards per punt across three punts.

Early storylines to watch, and what they mean for the Rams

While a good amount of attention is being paid toward the Bengals' wide receivers and the Rams' secondary, a matchup equally – and perhaps more important – is the battle between the Bengals offensive line and the Rams defensive front.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Bengals offensive line allowed 10 pressures on 36 snaps against the Raiders in the Wild Card Round; 11 pressures on 47 snaps against the Titans in the Divisional Round, and 16 pressures on 42 snaps against the Chiefs. Furthermore, the Titans tied the single-game NFL playoff record for sacks with nine in that contest, although the Bengals allowed just two sacks against the Raiders and Chiefs.

Burrow's ability to escape that pressure has helped minimize that impact and limit those numbers from being higher.

The performances of defensive back Jalen Ramsey, cornerback Darious Williams and other members of Los Angeles' secondary certainly will play an important role in limiting Chase, Higgins and Tyler Boyd's impacts for Cincinnati. However, L.A.'s pass rush will be just as crucial to limiting the opportunities Burrow has to target each of those players. Of course, as Burrow has shown, pressure alone won't be enough – the Rams' defensive front will have to reliably tackle him as well in order to prevent Burrow from making off-schedule plays to those receivers.

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