How Rams Can Win 2022 Super Bowl: Matthew Stafford's Ball Security, Rams Ball Control Are Key

Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers.
Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers. / Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

We have arrived at the Super Bowl! Much is going to be made over the next week with narratives running wild, but we are here to analyze what is going on on the field and how each team can game plan to beat the opposition.

The Los Angeles Rams moves up to this point, trading for an elite quarterback in Matthew Stafford, bringing in Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller, have led them to become not only one of the most star-studded but also complete teams in all of football. The team beat the likes of the defending Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFC West rivals Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers en route to a Super Bowl berth in their own home, SoFi Stadium.

Now they face an upstart Cincinnati Bengals team that has a devastating passing attack that upset the likes of the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs. Can their star players shine at home and bring a title to L.A.? We will break it all down.

Let's start with the facts: the Rams are the considerable favorite, favored by four points at WynnBET Sportsbook with a total of 48.5. You can find more Super Bowl information here, but let's on the Rams offense and how they can beat the Cincinnati Bengals:

Cam Akers, Sony Michel Can Be Weapons

While the Bengals defense suffocated Patrick Mahomes in the second half of the team's AFC Championship victory, that's due in part of the fact that that the Chiefs abandoned their run game.

Kansas City carved the Bengals defense for 6.7 yards per carry in that game, and I expect the Rams to utilize both Cam Akers and Sony Michel as well. In the postseason, they are allowing 5.8 yards per carry as well. I'd like to think that the loss of defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi -- who was injured in the Wild Card game -- has played a role in their decline.

It's a great story that Akers made it back after his Achilles injury in training camp, but he hasn't been all that effective, averaging just 2.6 yards per carry since returning in Week 18. Michel is averaging less than 4.0 yards per carry as well. However, the team was going up against three top 11 rush defensives according to success rate this season. The Bengals rank 23rd in that metric.

Matthew Stafford Needs to Protect the Ball

When the Rams acquired Stafford they became a pass-first team, throwing on 61% of their plays which is the fifth highest mark in the league. However, we have seen that the Bengals are versatile in disguising coverages and showing different looks. Per Sheil Kapdia and Ted Nguyen of The Athletic, the Bengals have won more than 100 snaps of Cover-1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 this season.

It's going to be on Stafford to read the defense and make the correct throws. Los Angeles has the edge in the talent department and has the best offense in the league in pass rush win rate in the league, but the former Detroit Lions star also led the league in interceptions.

I expect Cincinnati to run a ton of zone coverage, Stafford has been the best QB in the league against man coverage on an EPA/Play basis this season. If he can make the correct reads pre-snap and find soft spots in the Bengals defense, Stafford should be able to slice up the Cincy defense that has been suspect against elite competition. For reference, the Bengals played four top 10 offenses on an EPA/Play basis (Chiefs, Packers, Chargers, 49ers) and all of them scored at least 24 points, averaging north of 30. The Rams ranked 8th in this metric this season.

Of course, Cincinnati made the necessary adjustments in the second half in KC to hold off the Chiefs and go to the Super Bowl, but all signs point to the Bengals struggling to get stops against the best offenses this season. If Stafford can avoid the turnover worthy plays, then the Rams should be able to find Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham and the team's host of skill position players with relative ease.

Matt Gay's Kicking, Rams Decision Making

It has gone a bit under the radar, but Matt Gay has been injured since the NFC Divisional Round. It was briefly mentioned on the broadcast that he got hurt pre game in Tampa Bay, and he proceeded to leave a 47 yard field goal short. He then missed a 54-yard field goal wide right in the NFC Championship and it almost didn't get there either. That's admittedly far from a gimmie, but if Gay is struggling, will that factor into the notoriously conservative Sean McVay's decision making?

McVay ranks 23rd in EdjSports 'Critical Call' index, which determines in the win probability won and loss for teams based on their decision to go for it on fourth down or not, factoring in different factors. The site states that McVay's decisions have cost them about 33% of a game, per

L.A. had a league low five fourth down attempts of greater than a yard, but with Gay potentially compromised, will McVay change his play calling? It is worth noting that Zac Taylor is not much better in this regard, ranking 21st in this metric, but with the Rams sitting as favorites should they be sacrificing drives to the Bengals when they have aforementioned edges with the ball?

These questions loom large heading into Super Bowl Sunday.