LOS ANGELES —What to watch for in Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Bengals and Rams:
This is why the Rams traded for Jalen Ramsey: to lock down the other team’s best receiver. Sunday, that will be the Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase, whose 1,455 receiving yards this season are the most a rookie has ever posted.
“Whoever you think their best man is, put me on him,” the Rams cornerback said this week. “Let me help the team win this game. That’s what it’s all about.”
While he said he’d do whatever his team needs Ramsey — whom Pro Football Focus graded as the best cornerback on the planet this season— will likely follow Chase no matter where he lines up.
Both players epitomize the way their teams look at the world. Chase, like quarterback Joe Burrow, is a first-round draft pick who helped to usher in the Bengals’ surprise turnaround.
Rams GM Les Snead acquired Ramsey punting on the draft. He traded the Rams’ first-round picks in 2016 and 2017 for then-quarterback Jared Goff and the 2018 first-rounder for receiver Brandin Cooks. He traded back out of the first round in 2019 and then dealt the first-rounders in 2020 and 2021 to the Jaguars for Ramsey. The Rams’ 2022 and 2023 picks belong to the Lions after Snead traded them, along with Goff, for quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford was one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks at home during the regular season. Of passers with at least 250 attempts, Stafford ranked fourth in passer rating (107.7) and passing touchdowns (21), fifth in passing yards (2,349) and second in yards gained per pass attempt (8.02).
He’ll play at home Sunday, even if it’s technically a neutral site. It will mark the second time ever — but also the second time in as many years — a team has played the Super Bowl in its own stadium. The Buccaneers won in Tampa, Fla., last year, though the crowd’s size was limited because of the coronavirus.
PLAYER TO WATCH
The Rams’ Cooper Kupp became the first person since 2005 — and only the fourth since 1970 — to win the receiving triple crown. He led the league with 145 receptions, 1,947 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. Both his receptions and yards are second-most in NFL history.
He’s been even better in the postseason, catching 25 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns over three games. He needs seven catches Sunday to pass Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce for most postseason catches in a single season.
Rookie kicker Evan McPherson has made a walk-off winner in the Bengals’ last two playoff games —a 52-yarder to beat the Titans in the divisional round and 31-yarder in overtime to top the Chiefs in the AFC title game.
He’s 12-for-12 in the playoffs and needs three field goals Sunday to pass Adam Vinatieri, who made 14 in 2016, for the most playoff makes in one year.
Along the way, he’s filed a trademark for his nickname, “Money Mac.”