Super Bowl Tale Of The Tape: What Stats Say About Bengals-Rams Showdown

The Rams certainly deserve to be favorites


February 7, 2022

The Super Bowl, at the end of the day, is just one game. It’s a 60-minute showdown where the rules are the same as they are for every other game, and the team with the most points wins on the grandest stage in sports.

There are countless ways to do that on any given Sunday, though. The truth is, none of us really knows how it will play out between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. But that doesn’t stop us from trying to make our predictions based on what we know about past Super Bowls and how we can apply it to these teams.

So, while it’s possible a fluke fumble recovery or dazzling kick return swings Sunday’s game, we did our best to look at some of the most important factors for Super Bowl victory and how it affects this specific matchup.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. (-4.5) Los Angeles Rams


Again, you have to score more points than the opponent. You can’t do it without the ball. The ball is the most important thing. Teams that win the turnover battle are 38-5 in Super Bowl history. In a random one-game sample, few stats are better indicators of success. Here’s how the teams stack up in that regard.

Turnover differential
LA: plus-2
CIN: even

Giveaways per game
LA: 1.4
CIN: 1.2

Points per takeaway
LA: 3.8 (seventh-most)
CIN: 3.7 (eighth-most)

Someone, at some point, is going to force a turnover — or they’re going to be gifted a giveaway. Chances are, both teams are able to generate a turnover or two at some point, and when they do, there’s no clear edge on who turns it into points.

One thing to keep in mind, though: Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford led the league with four pick-six interceptions this season.

Advantage: Slight Bengals


The importance of protecting the quarterback on offense and pressuring him on defense can’t be overstated. Tom Brady is the greatest Super Bowl quarterback of all time. He was pressured on nearly 45% of his dropbacks in two Super Bowl losses to the New York Giants. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pressured Patrick Mahomes on 36.5% of his dropbacks last year, and that number feels low.

Sack differential
LA: +19 (3rd)
CIN: -13 (t-28th)

QB pressure rate allowed
LA: 16.6% (third-least)
CIN: 24.6% (13th-most)

Defensive QB pressure rate
LA: 20.7% (27th)
CIN: 23.1% (17th)

Despite a seemingly low pressure rate, no one got home better than the Rams, who still managed to sack the QB 50 times, third-most in the league. For those who forgot: the Titans sacked Joe Burrow nine times in the divisional game alone.

Advantage: Heavy Rams


The cliché is defense wins championship, but is that really the case? It certainly doesn’t hurt, but entering this Super Bowl, the last five champions had an offense that finished as one of the five top-scoring teams in the league.

Now, get this: Not only did neither the Bengals nor the Rams finish in the top five. They each scored 460 points in the regular season. So, which team has the best chance to make the most of its opportunities?

Red-zone percentage differential (Difference of offense and defense)
LA: 8.2
CIN: 0

The Bengals had the same exact red-zone touchdown percentage on offense as they did on defense, while the Rams’ were better on both sides of the ball.

Big-play differential
LA: 13 (ninth)
CIN: minus-9 (21st)

It’s not necessarily a big-play result, but keep an eye on the Cincinnati defense, too. The Bengals allowed first downs on 31% of their third down-and-5 or more to go plays, which was 10th-worst in the league. San Francisco was the only other playoff team to finish inside the bottom 14 of that stat.

Average field position differential
LA: 0.1 (14th)
CIN: 0.8 (12th)

If you haven’t sensed it yet, these are two relatively average teams playing in the Super Bowl.

Big-play touchdowns of 20 yards or more
LA: 9 (tied-15th)
CIN: 21 (first)

The formula for Cincinnati seems pretty simple. The Bengals just have to play their average level (16th) in scoring defense and block long enough for Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase or Tee Higgins or Tyler Boyd to connect on a few big passing plays. If they can’t do that, it might be a little one-sided Sunday night.

Advantage: Slight Rams

The more you dig into the numbers, the more you realize these teams — as far as Super Bowl combatants go — are pretty run of the mill. Just about everything points to the Rams having the better metrics, and the eye test backs up the commonly shared notion LA has the better roster.

But, as we said, in one winner-take-all game, weird stuff can happen, and Burrow continues to prove he’s capable of doing special things. That alone should keep you engaged into the fourth quarter … even if Stafford had the highest fourth-quarter passer rating in the NFL this season.

NESN?s big game coverage is presented by Berkshire Bank

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images

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