When you think of a classic Super Bowl matchup, you think of two teams that have dominated their competition and run rampant through the playoffs.
Rams vs. Bengals is not that matchup.
Both teams trailed in their respective conference championship matches as the fourth quarter started.
The Bengals needed a dramatic comeback and a spectacular self-destruction from the Chiefs to move on. The Rams blew a 24-point lead in the divisional round versus the Bucs and needed Jaquiski Tartt to drop a gift-wrapped interception to spur their win over the 49ers.
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And yet, both teams are here because their stars did star things. Cooper Kupp and Ja’Marr Chase made huge catches to set up game-winning field goals.
Jessie Bates started the Titans game with an interception and sent the Chiefs’ offense to the sideline for the winter by creating another. Aaron Donald finished Jimmy Garoppolo’s 49ers career with a pressure to force a pick. Joe Burrow ducked through a sure sack to scramble for a critical first down.
These two teams have weapons on both sides of the ball that can single-handedly decide games. Winning this game, then, might come down to whichever team can diminish or even eliminate as many of those mismatches as possible.
The Bengals, helpless for most of the first half in the AFC title game, shut down Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and the entire Chiefs offense after the break.
The Rams limited the vaunted 49ers rushing attack to 50 yards on 20 carries. We know what these teams and their stars are capable of doing.
Whichever team stops more of those stars wins this game.
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