Let’s talk Bengals pass rush and can the LA Rams OL stop them?

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

When you think of the LA Rams opponent in Super Bowl LVI, the Cincinnati Bengals, you would likely think about quarterback Joe Burrow, rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, and perhaps even running back Joe Mixon. But you should also think about the Bengals’ defense because it was their defense that propelled them past three AFC adversaries and into the NFL Championship Game.

The Bengals run a 4-3 defensive front. That means that they have four down linemen and three linebackers who provide run support, containment, and pass coverage. So far in the playoffs, the Bengals’ bookend defensive ends: Sam Hubbard and Trey Henderickson; are putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. In three playoff games, the pair have combined for 5.5 quarterback sacks. If you throw in their right defensive tackle B.J. Hill, the trio has chalked up 7.0 sacks.

Just for contextual comparisons, the LA Rams trio of Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Leonard Floyd have combined for 4.5 quarterback sacks in three games. So what chance do the LA Rams have?

Rams are well equipped for this one

Actually, I like this matchup. The Rams’ best offensive linemen in terms of pass blocking have been both Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein. Not only that, but the Rams have a number of tricks of the trade to help chip away at a defensive end. The Rams could go with one or two tight-end formations, and use either or both to lean into the defensive end on their way on their routes.

But the Rams also have some wide receivers who have incredible blocking ability, and if the Rams need to ensure a little extra time on deeper routes, they could redirect a defensive lineman into the blocking offensive tackle. The team could even make use of a running back who could stay back and pick up any defensive player threatening quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Another benefit is the fact that the Bengals’ even front leaves offensive center uncovered on a majority of passing plays. That is a plus because he is most likely the weak link for the team in this game. Without a player opposing him, he will be able to help a teammate secure the middle of the pocket for Stafford.

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Bengals vulnerable to the run

The other nice thing about the Bengals’ defense is their susceptibility to the running game. We had pointed out that each of their three playoff opponents has averaged over 5.0 yards per run. With the LA Rams offense depending upon presenting a balanced attack, this matches up very well for the Rams.

That is welcome news indeed because the most yards gained by one of the Rams running backs in the postseason has been just 58 yards by running back Sony Michel against the Arizona Cardinals. Running the ball by itself will slow down that Bengals pass rush considerably.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The Bengals can stop the run. They were able to shut down the Baltimore Ravens rushing attack in their second meeting. But they know the Ravens, and they know that the Ravens love to run the football. For the Rams? They will surely respect the Rams passing attack more and will be right to do so.

Will the Bengals pass rush get to LA Rams QB Matthew Stafford? They may. But don’t expect this one to turn into a jailbreak or stampede. The LA Rams offensive line matches up well in this one, and as long as the offense throws enough running plays into the mix to keep them honest, the Rams will have a good game on the line of scrimmage.

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