It’s almost here! Here are some of the stats that Rams and Bengals coaches will be studying in the next few days in order to find any possible advantage.
LAR: 84.5% in 11 personnel (1st), 49.1% run on 1st Down (18th), 45.9% in Bunch Sets (3rd)
CIN: 76.7% in 11 personnel (2nd), 51.8% run on 1st Down (10th), 20.4% Play Action (29th)
With heavily-intertwined coaching roots, it’s no surprise that the Bengals and Rams run similar offenses predicated on Outside Zone runs and 11 personnel. However, don’t be mistaken that these are identical schemes – LA likes to use bunched WR sets, especially on early downs, while Cincy has been extremely selective with the use of Play Action passing, potentially due to a weaker OL.
LAR: 8.1 Pass YPA (3rd), 45.6% Completion Rate on Throws of 20+ (4th), 23.6% Pressure Rate Allowed (5th)
CIN: 8.7 Pass YPA (1st), 69.2% Completion Rate (2nd), 3.1 Yards after Contact/Rush (5th)
The passing game is definitely where both of these teams make their money. The acquisition of Matthew Stafford and an improvement in pass protection has reinvigorated the Rams’ deep game. A fully-healthy season of Joe Burrow has set the league on fire but the duo of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine (as well as Chris Evans) have each hit new heights after contact, creating a base level of productivity to support the offense.
LAR: 35 Drops (4th), -0.133 EPA/Rush (28th), 2.5 Yards after Contact/Rush (28th)
CIN: 55 Sacks Allowed (3rd), -0.105 EPA/Rush (25th), 19.4% of Rush Yards Before Contact (32nd)
For all the preseason publicity about Ja’Marr Chase’s drops, it’s actually been the Rams who have been struggling recently in that department with four games of 3+ drops since Week 13 alone. The timing of their futility has been matched by the suddenly-porous Bengals offensive line, giving up 3+ sacks five times over the same span. Neither team has been able to run the ball either, with LA failing to break tackles and the CIN line unable to give their rushers any “free” yards.
LAR: 57.2% Nickel Personnel v 11 (31st), 36.9% Cover 3 (6th), 25.4% Rushing Five Players (7th)
CIN: 79.3% Nickel Personnel v 11 (15th), 30.2% Cover 3 (16th), 0.025 Penalties/Play (29th)
The parallelisms continue, with base Nickel defenses that prefer Cover 3, but each team solves problems in different ways. LA will bring a fifth defender and fall back on Quarters coverage, while Cincinnati can shift into Cover 1 or Cover 2 and are just as likely to send six.
LAR: 11% Missed Tackle Rate v Run (4th), 48 Sacks (4th), 3.3% INTs/Pass (5th)
CIN: 14% Missed Tackle Rate on Special Teams (2nd), 14 Forced Fumbles (9th), -0.133 EPA/Rush v Outside Zone (12th)
While the Rams and Bengals are middling tacklers, respective seasons of secure run and special teams tackling could prevent some of the big plays that have defined previous Super Bowls. LAR plays phenomenal complementary defense, watching their pass rushers get home and leading the league with 10 interceptions against a pressured QB. Trey Hendrickson’s group has come up big lately, but their quiet success against Outside Zone is an underrated factor considering Sean McVay has already lost one Super Bowl to a team shutting down OZ.
LAR: 4 Dropped INTs outside the Numbers (7th), 0.062 EPA/Rush v Outside Zone (31st), 67.6% Completion Rate Allowed to WRs (24th)
CIN: 72.0% Completion Rate Allowed (24th), 4.34 Average Depth of Tackle v Left Runs (21st), 32 passes of 15+ Yards Allowed to Slot Receiver (23rd)
As difficult as it is to find negatives in the Rams’ defense, they haven’t had nearly the success against OZ and have dropped all of 6 INTs since Week 12 – that won’t fly against a strong passing attack. Advanced stats don’t like the Bengals defense nearly as much, pointing to left runs as a particular problem spot – Trey Hendrickson himself will have to do better. With a host of explosive plays allowed to slot receivers, Cincinnati is going to have to try something different to stop world-beater Cooper Kupp. If they can do that, they can pull off the upset and sate their long-suffering fanbase.
All statistics provided by PFF via TruMedia