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Key matchups to watch in Super Bowl LVI

Super Bowl matchups

The odds for this weekend’s Super Bowl game have been changing slightly all week. As of now, the Los Angeles Rams are -190 favorites while the Cincinnati Bengals are optimistic +160 underdogs (odds from Sports Betting Dime). There are plenty of individual matchups on the field that have made the odds skew towards the Rams, so here is a look at some of the most important ones ahead of the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Bengals O-Line vs. Rams D-Line

Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first. This is the matchup most everyone is pointing to that leads to the Rams having a distinct betting advantage.

The Bengals’ offensive line was ranked 30th in pass-blocking and was the lowest rated out of all 14 playoff teams. The Rams’ defensive line, stacked with Aaron Donald, Von Miller, Leonard Floyd and others, was ranked first in pass rush throughout the regular season.

All of this points to a slaughter at the line of scrimmage. It is not so much a case of the Rams getting to the quarterback so much as it is how quickly they will break through. Burrow knows he will be pressured with regularity, but those extra seconds, or even half-seconds, could add up if the Bengals prepared well enough.

Los Angeles wins this battle, outright. But it is possible that the tiny victories at the point of attack that could help win the war.

Joe Burrow vs. Jalen Ramsey

Ramsey is the top-rated cornerback in football. Granted, he had less competition this year, as players like Marlon Humphries and Jaire Alexander did not play for most of the season. But, still, most would argue he is one of the top corners in the game.

Burrow shows no fear when it comes to throwing the football. Sure, that led to 14 interceptions on the year, but it also led to 34 touchdowns and Ja’Marr Chase breaking rookie receiving records. He has two interceptions in the postseason, and one could lay money down on Ramsey wanting to make sure it is him who grabs his third.

Being so aggressive, though, leads Ramsey to get absolutely torched sometimes. It isn’t with any sort of huge regularity, but it does happen. Los Angeles knows they probably need a turnover to create a comfortable margin, and Ramsey will be looking for it. If he plays too shallow, though, Burrow will see it and go over the top. This matchup is crucial to the story of the game.

Bengals safeties vs. Cooper Kupp

Cooper Kupp just won the NFL’s version of the receiving “Triple Crown.” He was first in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Kupp was named the Offensive Player of the Year, made the Pro Bowl and was First Team All-Pro. He also has the NFL record for most consecutive games with 90-plus yards through the air (13).

The connection between Matthew Stafford and Kupp is arguably the best in the league (see: Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams). He will be getting the ball with regularity. It is up to the Bengals safeties to make sure he doesn’t get over the top, though.

Cornerbacks do not matter here as much. Kupp will get his catches, there is just no real way around that. The way the Rams burn teams with the Stafford-Kupp connection is deep balls and scheming him wide open down the field. The Bengals’ secondary cannot let that happen. They need to have contingency plan after contingency plan to stop the bleeding.

Ja’Marr Chase vs. the double team

Being that Ramsey is such an outstanding cover-corner and tackler, the Rams need him to stay versatile. That’s why it would be pretty surprising if he stays on Ja’Marr Chase one-on-one for the entire game. There will be times when Ramsey vs. Chase is called for, but it cannot be Los Angeles’ main strategy against the rookie phenom.

Chase is most likely going to see double coverage for almost all 60 minutes. He is a weapon among weapons, and may even be scarier than Kupp. He now owns the rookie receiving yards record, along with the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award and the records for receiving yards in a game by a rookie and receiving yards in the postseason by a first year player.

Much like Stafford and Kupp, the Burrow-Chase connection is seemingly unstoppable at times. They did not miss a beat from their championship days at LSU. Chase will need to see double teams for the Rams to have a chance, and Chase will need to be dynamic enough to still find a way to win. This is the most under-the-radar important matchup of Super Bowl LVI.

Featured image courtesy of Dylan Buell/Getty Images

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