Tomorrow is the biggest game of the year in the NFL and the excitement is as great as ever. Since the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams won their AFC and NFC championship games two weeks ago, the powers that be have tried to put the Super Bowl on the back burner. Almost as soon as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs, rumors started swirling that Tom Brady was retiring. Brady would’ve waited, but because the story had leaked, he officially announced his retirement a few days later. All the major sports networks made this their headlines, which put the Super Bowl at No. 2.
Then earlier this week Brady admitted there was a possibility he could come back. Second place to the Super Bowl again. Now, with one day left, the game finally is squarely in the forefront of everyone’s mind. Both the Rams and Bengals have had narrow misses, heart-stopping wins, and lucky breaks to make it to the final game. Cincinnati won their first playoff game since the 1988 season by beating the Las Vegas Raiders 26-19 in the Wild Card Round.
Quarterback Joe Burrow led an efficient offense that scored on six drives, Evan McPherson became the first to make four field goals without a miss in a postseason debut, and Germaine Pratt sealed it with a fourth-down interception in the final seconds. The Bengals then followed this up with a 19-16 upset win over the No. 1 seed Tennessee Titans. Rookie Evan McPherson kicked the game-winning 52-yard field goal as time expired, and Burrow threw for 348 yards while being sacked nine times.
This is the second time a team has won in the playoffs with their QB being sacked this many times, and the first time a quarterback taken No. 1 overall in the draft has won a divisional game within his first two seasons. If that wasn’t enough, Cincinnati did one better and upset the two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes 27-24. The Bengals had to come from behind again and won it by another game-winning 31-yard field goal by Evan McPherson in overtime.
Los Angeles came up just as clutch in their quest to reach the big game. In the Wild Card Round, they destroyed the spiraling Arizona Cardinals 34-11. Quarterback Matthew Stafford got his first win in the playoffs while Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp caught touchdown passes. Their divisional-round victory over the defending Super Bowl champs and Tom Brady was much more difficult. The game was seemingly over in the third quarter when the Rams built a usually insurmountable 27-3 lead.
But never discount the Tom Brady magic. He led the Bucs on another Bradyesque comeback to tie the score at 27 with just 42 seconds. But the victory wasn’t to be for Brady this time. The 42 seconds was just enough time for Stafford to complete two long completions to NFL receiving leader Cooper Kupp to position the Rams for Matt Gay’s 30-yard field goal as time expired. Against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game, the Rams were the ones that went down big this time.
They were down 17-7 in the fourth quarter. This is when Stafford, Kupp, and the Rams woke up and scored 13 unanswered points. An 11-yard touchdown pass to Kupp and two Matt Gay field goals sealed the 20-17 victory sending the Rams to their second Super Bowl in four seasons. Now it comes down to one more game to decide the 56th Super Bowl champion. This Super Bowl pits two talented quarterbacks against each other. Matthew Stafford has almost completely transformed the Rams in his first season as their quarterback. This year they are scoring 27.2 points per game, which is four more than their 23.3 last year.
Last year their total completions of more than 20 yards was 55. This year, with Stafford, they have 79. They also have shown confidence in him by having 18% of their offensive possessions with no running backs behind him. This led the NFL. This will be just the second Super Bowl featuring both starting quarterbacks drafted No. 1 overall. Joe Burrow is one of only five players to have won the Heisman, a national championship, and having been selected No. 1.
If he wins the Super Bowl, he’d be the first player to accomplish all four. Burrow and Cincinnati receiver Ja’Marr Chase combined to win a championship at LSU just two years ago. They are trying to do the same in the NFL. Matthew Stafford also has this great connection with Cooper Kupp, his top receiver. This is the first Super Bowl that will have the league’s top two receivers on display. Cooper Kupp led the league with 2,333 receiving yards, while Chase was just behind him with 1,734 yards.
Chase was second in the league in gaining 11.3 yards per catch, while Kupp was fourth gaining 10.4 per catch. Burrow was sacked 63 times this year, which was the most in the NFL. This is just the third time an offense sacked 50 times is playing a defense that has sacked the opposing teams 50 times. When pressured by the Rams in this postseason, opposing teams have only completed 9 of 34 passes. Opposing teams have only completed five passes when star defenders Aaron Donald or Von Miller have led the charge.
The Rams will have the opportunity to become just the second team, after Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs did it last year, to win the Super Bowl on their home field. The most important players for the Rams are quarterback Matthew Stafford, and receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp. Also, defenders Aaron Donald and Von Miller will play crucial roles. OBJ got traded from the Cleveland Browns halfway through the season and has been getting better and better as they’ve gone deeper in the playoffs.
He’s also the most well-known of all the Rams players with 15.2 million Instagram followers. Cooper Kupp has 2,333 receiving yards for the regular and postseason, 145 receptions, with 16 touchdowns. Aaron Donald will be a hard stop as he had 84 tackles, 12.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles for the regular season. Von Miller had 50 tackles, with 9.5 sacks.
The players to watch for the Bengals will be Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and kicker Evan McPherson. Burrow had 4,611 passing yards in the regular season, with 34 touchdowns, while completing 70.4% of his passes. Chase had 1,455 yards receiving, 81 receptions, and 13 touchdowns. McPherson made 28 of 33 field goals during the regular season, but has really performed well in the last remaining seconds in each postseason game. It’s gonna be exciting to see who comes out on top.
Article by: Chris Steele, iHearts143Quotes Team member