Los Angeles Rams- NFC West Champions (12-5)
The 2021 regular season is complete and the stage is set for Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Rams have been all-in on a Super Bowl since they hired Sean McVay as head coach five years ago. So far, the strategy has paid off, as this is their second appearance in five years. But how did they get there? Genius Sports has you covered.
Here’s the second part of Genius Sports Report’s Super Bowl LVI preview, checking out the two contenders, using content driven by our official NFL data.
Rams Stars you need to know…
QB Matthew Stafford, 13th Season
- 4,886 yards
- 41 TD
- 17 INT
WR Cooper Kupp, 5th year
- 1,947 yards
- 16 TDs
WR Odell Beckham, Jr, 8th year
- 537 yards
- 5 TDs
DT Aaron Donald, 8th year
- 12.5 sacks
- 4 FF
- 84 tackles
Regular Season Recap
The Los Angeles Rams came into this season committed to winning a Super Bowl, and their player personnel moves before and during the season reflected that mindset. Coming off a tough Super Bowl loss after the 2018 season, Head Coach Sean McVay and GM Les Snead have gone all-in to ensure current success. The first move was offloading QB Jared Goff and draft picks to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford. Stafford has been a top quarterback in the league for over a decade, but had never won a playoff game and rarely played in meaningful games late in the year. By the trade deadline, the Rams added former Super Bowl MVP OLB Von Miller from the Denver Broncos. As the Broncos were facing a rebuild and moving towards a younger team, Miller brings experience and stability to an already fierce Rams defense.
The final splashy move of the season came when the picked up free agent WR Odell Beckham Jr. after he was unceremoniously cut from the Cleveland Browns. Beckham made an immediate impact, catching five touchdowns in eight games with the Rams (and one more in the playoffs so far). The Rams won’t be drafting this April until the third round, but the absence of picks has helped them reach the pinnacle of the 2021 season.
The Rams’ big moves in the offseason immediately paid off. The team jumped off to a 3-0 start and made it to 6-1 behind Stafford and Kupp torching defenses. Stafford was a leading candidate for MVP while his favorite target Cooper Kupp was leading the league in receiving yards and touchdowns early in the season. A tough stretch of eventual playoff teams tripped up the Rams and they sat at 7-4 just past halfway through the season. Questions started to swirl around McVay and his ability to keep the super team together and focused on a deep playoff run. The experience and leadership of veteran players kept the Rams on track as they won their next five games before dropping the season finale to the 49ers in overtime. The late push (and subsequent collapse by the Cardinals) allowed the Rams to secure the West Division and the fourth seed in the NFC playoffs.
The moves had paid off and the Rams were right where they wanted to be at the end of the season.
Road to the Super Bowl
The Rams went 3-3 in their division and as fate would have it, had to play two divisional opponents in the playoffs. On Wild Card weekend, the Rams hosted the Cardinals on Monday night and made quick work of the struggling divisional opponent. Los Angeles jumped out to an early and dominating lead which ended in a 34-11 win that wasn’t even that close.
The Rams then travelled to Tampa Bay to take on Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl Champions. McVay and Stafford were ready to play and the team took a 27-3 lead late into the game. As many were writing off Brady to the retirement home, he demonstrated why he is the greatest quarterback of all time. Brady fought back and tied the game at 27 late in the fourth quarter. Despite the comeback, the Buccaneers defense was no match for Cooper Kupp. Kupp ended with 183 receiving yards and one touchdown. His final catch of the game set up a game winning field goal as time expired.
MATT GAY FIELD GOAL IS GOOD! END OF THE FOOTBALL GAME! THAT’S A W!
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) January 23, 2022
The NFC Championship game was back in LA as the surging San Francisco 49ers upset the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers to come within one game of the Super Bowl. The 49ers had been 6-0 against the Rams in recent years and were playing with confidence and grit. They had a double-digit lead heading into the fourth quarter, but failed to capitalize on mistakes by the Rams and Los Angeles battled back. The 49ers offense sputtered late when trying to put the game away and Stafford and the Rams edged out a 20-17 victory. This will be only the second time in NFL history a team will play in the Super Bowl in their home stadium. Last year’s winner Tampa Bay was the first.
The Super Bowl Battlefield
In Part One of our Super Bowl preview, we highlighted the offensive and defensive line play. From a Rams perspective, if their defense can’t get pressure on Burrow they will need to be locked down in the secondary.
Thankfully, they have an All-Pro cornerback in Jalen Ramsey who will look to do just that. Watch for Ramsey to be matched up with Offensive Rookie of the Year WR Ja’marr Chase. If Ramsey can limit Chase’s production, the Bengals may struggle to score points and keep up with the high powered Rams offense.