USA About: Rams Publish: 02/13/2022 Edit: 02/13/2022 Author: Gardener
The long wait is over and it's finally time for Super Bowl 56 at SoFi Stadium to begin. The Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams have been preparing for their title fight for two weeks, allowing ample time to analyze the game's biggest plot points. Of course, there's the quarterback fight between Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford. How about the coaching showdown between the former teacher and the student in Sean McVay vs. Then there's the question of whether three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald will destroy the Bengals' maligned line. From NFL games to college sports scores, all the top sports news you need to know every day. With that in mind, we asked USA TODAY Sports NFL editors and writers: What will be the defining story of Super Bowl 56? Super Bowl titles often elude highly talented quarterbacks. Such is life in a league where 96.7% of teams fail to reach the ultimate goal each season, players sacrifice their bodies and watch their health plummet instantly. Few quarterbacks as capable as Matthew Stafford will set a losing record spanning a dozen years. Rams head coach Sean McVay's quest for a quarterback change seemed bold last offseason, with McVay dropping Jared Goff from the 2016 first round even after the Rams reached the Super Bowl following the 2019 season with him. And yet, as the Rams return to the big game -- or should we say, the big game returns to the Rams at their home stadium SoFi -- McVay's belief in Stafford's ability to improve the team is vindicated. NFL fans with diverse interests will be rooting for the quarterback, who has long suffered from Detroit's ineptness, as he attacks the final game that stands between him and a Lombardi Trophy. At 33, Stafford has released his most successful career campaign. NFL fans and media are drawn to the suspense of his car chase in what could be his happiest 13th year. Donald is considered by some to be the best player in football, but we still consider the quarterback position to be the most important. However, Donald's game in the Super Bowl could be so dominant that we need to create some sort of special category for him, a whole new level of uniqueness. I think it will involve the chess game between Sean McVay and Zac Taylor and the adjustments each makes. We've seen the Bengals fall into big holes and scrape their way back into the second half of games and then pull off wins. Is it reductive to pin this game down to the quarterback game? It feels like Joe Burrow is moving early and often, the right side of his line can't keep up with whatever the Rams throw at them. And if he can lengthen the plays, there could be an excellent opportunity to attack downfield with Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. But expecting Burrow to dodge defenders all night seems like a tall order, so Cincinnati could be witnessing the limitations of their current offensive setup. Meanwhile, the Rams seem to have found a much more manageable demand for Matthew Stafford: play offense and keep everything on schedule, but make defense pay when things collapse. While Stafford has been a little wild at times this season with his 17 interceptions, Los Angeles put offense squarely in his hands and should do the same on Sunday. Although the Bengals' adaptability and lack of an easily exploited weak link in defense could keep them close, Stafford appears well-placed to cap a 13-year career that began with him being No. 1 for the Detroit Lions was . This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Super Bowl 2022: What will be the defining story of the Bengals-Rams matchup?
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