Go here for this week's Rushing Matchups
Top Passing Matchup
Los Angeles vs Cincinnati
Matthew Stafford and the Rams passing offense has been on fire throughout the playoffs this season. In the three playoff games for the Rams, Stafford has topped 330 yards in two of those games including a very impressive 337-yard performance last week against the 49ers. Cooper Kupp continues his dominance averaging 163 yards per game over his last two games against the 49ers and Buccaneers, but Odell Beckham Jr has stepped up to fill a critical secondary wide receiver role for the Rams as he is averaging 91 yards per game over his last two games after some early season struggles adapting with the Rams. The Rams offense is loaded with talent as they have a very strong offensive line led by their tackles in Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein. The Rams were sacked just 31 times this season which was the sixth-fewest in the NFL. One key injury to watch for the Rams is that it appears that Tyler Higbee may miss this game due to a knee injury. If Higbee is unable to go, they will once again turn to Kendall Blanton who was great against San Francisco as he had 59 yards on 5 receptions with Higbee out. He will be a critical piece to compliment the receiving group if Higbee is unable to go this week.
The secondary is going to be the key for the Bengals this week as so far throughout the playoffs, they have held up holding Patrick Mahomes II to 275 yards passing, Ryan Tannehill to 220, but did allow 310 to Derek Carr most of which was in garbage time as the Raiders made a late fourth quarter push. The Bengals defense on the season allowed 269 yards passing per game which was the sixth-most in the NFL but did face the third-most passing attempts on the season as their run defense has been very good throughout the year. The Bengals do have talent in the secondary led by Chidobe Awuzie, Jessie Bates III, and Vonn Bell, but the weak spot has been Eli Apple. Apple has often been the culprit of some of the big games allowed to opposing wide receivers as he’s often asked to cover the physical receivers which has been a problem for the Bengals. Davante Adams, A.J. Brown, Mike Williams, Chase Claypool, and Adam Thielen all had big games against this Bengals defense. The good news for the Bengals is that the Rams don’t really have that guy as Apple will likely see a lot of Van Jefferson this week as Odell Beckham Jr will likely be defended by Awuzie, and slot corner Mike Hilton who has been one of the better slot corners in the NFL will defend Cooper Kupp for the 60% of snaps that Kupp takes in the slot. While Hilton has been very good out of the slot, the one concern this week could be the size mismatch, as Hilton is just 5’9’ 180 pounds while Kupp should have a significant size advantage at 6’1’’ 205 pounds. The key for the Bengals could be the turnovers as the Rams had 18 interceptions on the season which was the fifth-most in the NFL.
Bottom Passing Matchup
Cincinnati vs Los Angeles
Joe Burrow and the Bengals passing offense are going to be critical this week to the success of the Bengals this week. This may be somewhat controversial, but for as much hype as Burrow has gotten this playoffs, he has been good, but not great. Burrow has thrown for just four touchdowns in his three playoff games this season and has thrown for 250 yards or less in two of his three games. The issue for the Bengals has been finding a third receiver as Tyler Boyd has essentially been non-existent throughout these playoffs averaging just 21 yards receiving per game compared to 52 yards throughout the regular season. The other concern heading into this week is the offensive line of the Bengals. Burrow was sacked the third most in the NFL on the season as he was sacked 55 times on the year. The right side of the offensive line is an issue ever since Riley Reiff was lost for the year as Isaiah Prince has not shown that he is an NFL caliber right tackle. He will be in a tough spot having to deal with Von Miller throughout the game this week.
The Rams secondary has been an up and down unit throughout the season as they did allow 257 passing yards per game which was the 10th-most in the NFL this season. When the Rams are good, they are simply one of the best units in football, but they have been exploitable this season. The Rams have allowed seven quarterbacks this season to top 300 yards, but when they are good they absolutely dominant as they have held eight quarterbacks to under 200 yards. Jalen Ramsey has lobbied to shadow Ja’Marr Chase this week which could present an opportunity for Tee Higgins who will likely be matched up against the weak point in this Rams defense in Darious Williams. The key for the Rams this week will be the linebacker and safety position as the Rams should get Taylor Rapp back this week after missing the first three playoff games, while Nick Scott and Eric Weddle will likely split time filling in for Jordan Fuller. The linebacker position is the weak spot on this defense and could open an opportunity for Joe Mixon as Troy Reeder is one of the worst coverage linebackers in the NFL which has led to both Elijah Mitchell and Leonard Fournette both topping 50 yards receiving over the last two weeks.