The Los Angeles Rams are headed to Super Bowl LVI — and hoping to become just the second team in history to win a Super Bowl in their own stadium after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers achieved that feat last year.
To get there, the Rams had to rack up plenty of wins during the regular season and knock out postseason opponents in every phase of the playoffs, including the reigning champion Bucs. The Rams will now take on the Cincinnati Bengals on Feb. 13, with LA heading into the game as 4-point favorites according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
To help you get ready for the big game on Sunday — and to learn all you need to know about the Rams — we turned to the experts at our team communities to find out what they learned when the teams they cover played LA this season.
Week 1: Rams 34, Bears 14
The Chicago Bears opened up the 2021 season in Los Angeles against the Rams on primetime, and the game went about how most analysts predicted it would. The Rams won 34-14 and it wasn’t even that close. Matthew Stafford’s fit into Sean McVay’s offense was evident right away and I knew after Week 1 that the Rams were going to be a problem and a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The Bears had no answer for LA’s offense and Cooper Kupp had his way all night as he put up seven catches, 108 yards, and a touchdown. Their running game that night featured Darell Henderson, but McVay can scheme up success for any of his tailbacks. Week 1 was also long before Odell Beckham Jr. landed on the team, so I can’t even imagine how out of hand that game could have gotten!
The Bears held Aaron Donald to just three tackles and he was sackless until the final minutes of the game, but his presence helped Justin Hollins pick up two sacks. The LA defense also picked off Bears’ quarterback Andy Dalton, but they also allowed the first rushing touchdown of Justin Fields’ career.
In a weird scheduling quirk, the Bears faced the Rams in Week 1. Then in Week 2 they squared off against the Cincinnati Bengals, and even though those two games were so early in the NFL season, you had a sense of the potential both those teams had. However, I think the Rams are the more complete team, and I see them winning a close one. – Lester A. Wiltfong Jr., Windy City Gridiron
Week 2: Rams 27, Colts 24
When the Los Angeles Rams added Matthew Stafford to the roster in free agency, Indianapolis Colts fans took notice. If anything, fans in Indy had been hopeful that Stafford might be targeted by Chris Ballard as successor to Philip Rivers. Even if Ballard inquired, Indianapolis simply didn’t have the resources to offer what the Rams did. As a result, Colts fans were bracing for a difficult game when the Rams came to town in Week 2 — and most expected an early loss to a Rams team that boasts a ton of defensive talent, and one of the best receiving groups in the NFL.
To Colts fans’ surprise, Indianapolis gave the Rams all they wanted with Carson Wentz under center after an abbreviated offseason. The game came down to a big play … and Cooper Kupp. The Colts’ secondary had no answer for Kupp and Wentz threw a pick on a shovel pass at the Rams’ 3-yard-line, taking away a would-be score.
No matter. This Rams team is legit. Stafford is one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, even though he struggled to show that in Detroit with the Lions. Defensive names like Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey stand out as trouble for any opponent. The Rams’ receiving weapons now include Van Jefferson and Odell Beckham Jr., to go along with possibly the deepest backfield in the NFL. If Sean McVay had a stud at tight end, he could be unstoppable.
Sometimes he is anyway. – Brett Mock, Stampede Blue
Week 3: Rams 34, Buccaneers 24
The LA Rams are just the second team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. Like the Buccaneers last year, they’re hoping to win in their home stadium. After watching this team go up against the Bucs twice this year, there’s no question that can happen.
The addition of Matthew Stafford is the catalyst. He was the kind of quarterback Sean McVay needed to take his offense to the next level with his deep shot accuracy, propensity to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers when facing a blitz, and ability to move around in the pocket or make plays with his legs. This has also been a season in which Cooper Kupp has emerged as one of the best receivers in the league and a player that understands what he’s up against in any given situation. In short, there’s no play in which Kupp doesn’t have the upper hand.
Defensively, the Rams are a force unlike many others in the league. Aaron Donald is looking for a championship to go along with a sure fire gold jacket, while Von Miller is looking to add to his jewelry collection. With the intelligence and ball hawking abilities of Jalen Ramsey, the Rams have things covered from front to back to the sides.
But they aren’t invincible.
The key to beating the Rams is to generate pressure on Stafford with the front four. Similar to what the Bucs were able to do with Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LV, dropping eight guys back can put the Bengals in an advantageous position to force Stafford into mistakes — something he still has a tendency to do at times. With Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard, the Bengals have the talent to do exactly that and not leave their questionable secondary on an island against Kupp or Odell Beckham Jr. – James Yarcho, Bucs Nation
Week 4: Cardinals 37, Rams 20
For the Los Angeles Rams, Super Bowl LVI is the culmination of really putting all their cards on the table. They saw the flaws in their team and added Matthew Stafford, they saw key pieces go down and added Sony Michel and Odell Beckham Jr.
The Rams have been built to win a Super Bowl in the next two seasons. They now have that opportunity and the dynamic offense and aggressive defense to see it come to fruition. With Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Beckham and the return of Cam Akers, the Rams offense is one of the most difficult to defend in the league. They have the ability to win with big plays or methodical, time-consuming drives. You have to be able to capitalize on the mistakes they do make, because they make so few and if you give them extra chances, they won’t miss them.
The Rams’ biggest strength continues to be their defense, though. Jalen Ramsey will have the chance to cover Ja’Marr Chase and help stop the Joe Burrow passing attack. When you combine that coverage with Aaron Donald, Von Miller and the Rams’ pass rush, this Rams team is tough to beat.
What the Rams have done is create a team with few flaws. They have a very good offense, a great defense and a special teams unit that usually wins the kicking battle. Marry that to their young and innovative coaching staff and you have the best team in the league. They’ll be tough for the Bengals to beat. – Seth Cox, Revenge of the Birds
Week 5: Rams 26, Seahawks 17
The Seattle Seahawks were swept by the Los Angeles Rams, first by a score of 26-17 in October and then 20-10 on a Tuesday night in December after LA’s COVID-19 outbreak postponed the game. Both matchups were close late in the fourth quarter but in the first one Russell Wilson suffered a finger injury in the second half. Geno Smith tried to lead the comeback, but was picked off with two minutes left. Wilson could’ve led a comeback down in Inglewood if not for a horrendous non-call on a 4th down pass interference.
Matthew Stafford threw for 361 yards in Seattle, with much of the damage coming in the second half. In the rematch, he threw for 244 yards — with 136 of them going to Cooper Kupp — who also bagged two touchdowns. Odell Beckham Jr. was held to just one catch for seven yards. Seattle’s pass rush didn’t generate much heat against Stafford in the first matchup, but he was sacked four times in the rematch.
The defense played well for the most part over the two meetings; it was the offense, which has historically struggled against the Rams defense, that did them in. Seattle’s rushing attack has been one of their best weapons against the Rams’ defense on better days, but it was barely existent in these games. While the offensive line was surprisingly not terrible in pass blocking, they ultimately allowed Aaron Donald to get his usual sacks.
This sounds cliche, but if you’re gonna beat the Rams you have to win in the trenches. The 49ers and Titans showed the blueprint in the regular season. Cincinnati has the front four (really just Trey Hendrickson) to trouble the Rams’ OL, but can the Bengals’ much-criticized offensive line effectively neutralize Donald, Von Miller, and Leonard Floyd? That’s Mission Impossible. – Mookie Alexander, Field Gulls
Week 6: Rams 38, Giants 11
Honestly, the biggest thing New York Giants’ fans learned from the 38-11 beatdown the Giants suffered at the hands of the LA Rams in Week 6 on Oct. 17 was just how far the Giants had to go in order to be a good team.
This loss came one week after the Giants were routed by division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, with a final score of 44-20. So, the message was pretty clear at that point that the Giants were not good enough to compete with the better teams in the league.
The Giants were without Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay, and lost Kadarius Toney after the first series, but they were clearly overmatched. Matthew Stafford threw four touchdown passes that day and made it clear these were not the Jared Goff Rams any longer. At least Odell Beckham Jr. hadn’t shown up on the scene for LA yet. – Ed Valentine, Big Blue View
Week 7: Rams 28, Lions 19
The week after the Detroit Lions were punched in the mouth by the Cincinnati Bengals for their sixth loss in as many weeks, they had to head out west for a matchup with the Los Angeles Rams, and many were wondering how Dan Campbell’s group would respond after such a decisive loss.
I wonder how much it costs to haul a kitchen sink on a cross-country flight …
The Lions threw everything they could at the Rams. Detroit, leading 7-0 after the game’s opening drive, surprised Los Angeles with an onside kick to immediately regain possession. And when the Lions faced a fourth-and-7 near midfield on that ensuing possession, punter Jack Fox threw for a first down on a fake punt. The Lions would see their 10-point lead turn into a one-point deficit, trailing the Rams 17-16 at halftime, but Campbell and Co. had more up their sleeves. On the Lions’ first possession in the second half, facing another fourth-and-8, Fox threw for another first down, this time from Detroit’s side of the field.
Detroit would fight until the end, managing to stay in the game until the final minutes of the fourth quarter before Jared Goff threw two costly interceptions, but they went down throwing everything they could at Los Angeles–and Sean McVay and the Rams were caught off guard all game long.
We’ve seen teams get tricky on the game’s biggest stage before, maybe the most memorable one being Sean Payton’s New Orleans Saints coming out of halftime, down 10-6, with an onside kick to take back possession in Super Bowl XLIV. If the Bengals find the right time to roll the dice with some trickeration of their own, they could catch the Rams napping as the Lions did back in Week 7. – Ryan Mathews, Pride of Detroit
Week 8: Rams 38, Texans 22
Unless you’re a fan of the Rams or Texans, there’s little chance you watched these two teams play each other at NRG Stadium on Halloween. You may, however, be familiar with what happened if you were fortunate enough to have Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, or Darrell Henderson on your fantasy squad, as all three of those gentlemen had monster games in Houston. The Rams were up 38-0 on the admittedly vastly inferior Texans at the end of three quarters; while the final score reflected only a 16-point loss, I can assure you the game was in no way that close at any point. It was, quite simply, a clinic.
So what did we learn from that one-sided affair? That the Rams are a complete team, capable of putting up a flurry of points while simultaneously pitching a shutout. They had some missteps during the 2021 season to be sure, but there were very few rosters that could boast as much high end talent as the Rams do. If Stafford is not turning the ball over (and he didn’t against the Texans), Sean McVay’s squad is very, very tough to beat.
The Bengals operate on a much higher plane than the woeful Texans do, and it seems unlikely Joe Burrow will find himself down 38 points like Davis Mills did. But the Rams are an explosive team, better equipped to pile on the points than perhaps any other team in the NFL. The scores can come in waves, and that’s tough to come back from, especially when facing a defense that features Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey.
The Bengals have to force turnovers and get after Stafford. Get him off his game, and perhaps he’ll do what he can to keep Cincinnati close. – Tim McHale, Battle Red Blog
Week 9: Titans 28, Rams 16
The Tennessee Titans traveled to Los Angeles to play the Rams on Sunday Night Football the week after they lost Derrick Henry to a broken foot. Everyone in the world was saying the Titans season was over. There were some that even suggested the Titans should rest their starters for the Rams game because the Titans had no chance at winning. It seemed like in that game the Rams might have felt the same way.
The Titans won the Week 9 game on the strength of their defense. They sacked Matthew Stafford five times in that game. That was the key to keeping that vaunted Rams’ offense off schedule. That is the best way to go about beating the Rams – make Matthew Stafford uncomfortable.
They were also able to limit the big plays to Cooper Kupp. In that game, Kupp did catch 11 passes but he only had 95 yards. It was obvious their plan was to keep him from beating them over the top. It certainly is easier to do that when the defensive front is getting after Stafford. The Titans’ offense was not able to do much against the Rams’ defense. While the Titans scored 28 points, most of that was set up by the defense getting a turnover or stopping the Rams on fourth down. The Tennessee offense only had one long drive that resulted in points.
If the Rams are going to win this game, they are going to have to give Stafford time to push the ball down the field. – Jimmy Morris, Music City Miracles
Week 10: Niners 31, Rams 10
No one has seen more of the Rams this season than the San Francisco 49ers, who swept two regular season games against LA before falling in the NFC Championship. The Rams’ offense under Sean McVay has always been elite when his quarterbacks get a clean pocket, but has folded when opposing defenses generate pressure with their front-four. The Niners defensive line has always been a huge strength, and it has led Rams quarterbacks to be particularly turnover prone against them.
McVay took a page out of Shanahan’s playbook in the NFC Championship game. The Rams ran the ball down the Niners’ throats and controlled time of possession. The 49ers were unable to shutdown LA’s rushing offense and their pass rushers were gassed in the fourth quarter, when Stafford led a Rams comeback.
Defensively, the Rams have always had good defenses built around a few great players. Shanahan is a master at isolating a defense’s weakest link, and has generally succeeded doing that against Los Angeles. Strangely, the Niners failed to take what the defense gave them in the NFC Championship, and their offense paid the price. The Rams were 14-3 this year against everyone except the 49ers, who had the unique combination of talent and coaching aptitude to capitalize on Los Angeles’ few weaknesses. The Bengals lack the depth (and probably coaching acumen) of San Francisco, but they also have Joe Burrow at quarterback instead of Jimmy Garoppolo. I expect the Rams to try and control time of possession early like they did in the NFC Championship game. If they do, it should be a lot easier to keep Stafford in a clean pocket. If that’s the case, it will take an exceptional performance from Burrow to prevent McVay and the Rams from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. – Marc Delucchi, Niners Nation
Week 11: Bye
Week 12: Packers 36, Rams 28
Two weeks before the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers played at Lambeau Field, Rams receiver Robert Woods tore his ACL in practice, ending his season. On the same day, the team had made the decision to sign Odell Beckham Jr., who was also considering signing with the Packers at the time. In the Rams’ first game with OBJ, Los Angeles lost 31-10 to the San Francisco 49ers with quarterback Matthew Stafford, then in the MVP conversation, throwing 41 passes for 243 yards, two interceptions and a QBR of 37.2 as nearly half of the offense’s passing production ran through would-be First-Team All-Pro Cooper Kupp.
The biggest question that the Rams had to answer at that point in the season was what the offense would look like when teams began to focus on Kupp, in terms of coverage attention. Against the Packers, they were able to answer those questions, despite losing by eight points.
The speedy Van Jefferson was able to haul in a 79-yard bomb over primary slotback Chandon Sullivan while Beckham made his first significant contribution with the Rams, a 81-yard receiving mark that ended up being the high of his regular season.
In total, the Rams were able to post 302 passing yards against the Packers and were able to register more than 200 yards by non-Kupp players, a stark contrast to what they looked like post-Woods against the 49ers the week before. From that point on, the Rams won five of their six remaining regular season games, never scoring fewer than 20 points, as the Stafford-led offense continued to roll without Woods.
The moral of the story? If you focus too much on Kupp, the Rams had other high-flying targets who could gash you for big plays. – Justis Mosqueda, Acme Packing Company
Week 13: Rams 37, Jaguars 7
It’s hard to glean too much about the Rams from watching them play the Jacksonville Jaguars, as the Jaguars were down 10 points in the first quarter after only two offensive plays from Jacksonville. The Rams marched right down the field for a field goal, the Jaguars turned it over and the Rams scored and that was pretty much the ball game.
Joking aside however, the Rams seem to be one of the most complete teams in the NFL and that was on full display against the lowly Jaguars. The Rams were clearly the much better team across the board on paper, and like most well coached teams, they did exactly what they should have done on the field, which was to completely dominate the other side.
The Rams’ defense suffocated the Jaguars’ offense and the addition of Matthew Stafford to the Rams offense really opened it up, adding much needed deep passing to a Rams offense that suddenly now became multi-dimensional. – Alfie Crow, Big Cat Country
Week 14: Rams 30, Cardinals 23
Week 15: Rams 20, Seahawks 10
Week 16: Rams 30, Vikings 23
The biggest thing that the Minnesota Vikings and their fans learned when they lost to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 16 is that the Rams will give you opportunities, but you absolutely need to cash in on them. The Vikings managed to force Matthew Stafford into three interceptions in that contest at U.S. Bank Stadium, with two of those interceptions setting them up inside the Rams’ red zone. Unfortunately, they only converted those three interceptions into 10 points, which was pretty huge considering that the Vikings only lost by seven points. The Vikings had seen Stafford numerous times during his time with the Detroit Lions and knew that he was susceptible to turning the football over, and even though Stafford has been playing well this postseason, he’s still going to have a couple of throws a game that a defense can take advantage of and turn into interceptions. When you get those turnovers, you absolutely must take advantage and turn them into points, because the Rams are too good on both sides of the football to squander those sorts of opportunities.
Also, don’t overlook the Rams’ special teams, because they were the difference in their victory over Minnesota. Johnny Hekker and Matt Gay have both been very good, and Brandon Powell returned a punt for a touchdown in that contest. When two teams that are close to equal are matched up, special teams can make a tremendous difference, and the Rams almost certainly have to be among the league’s best in that department. – Christopher Gates, Daily Norseman
Week 17: Rams 20, Ravens 19
When Baltimore hosted LA in Week 17, I saw from the Rams a team that despite their flaws, can persevere on the shoulders of their stars.
While other teams came into Baltimore and boasted strong resumes, I don’t think many were as concerned about the Rams. They were struggling a bit and Matthew Stafford had shown some signs of being rattled. Also, traveling from Los Angeles to Baltimore can be a challenging road trip. Stafford threw a pick six early (and would later be strip-sacked) and it felt like the beaten-down Ravens had a chance. That’s when the stars shined.
Rams safety Jordan Fuller intercepted a pass with 1:42 remaining in the half after the Ravens were up 10-0. Stafford responded, hitting wide receiver Cooper Kupp for an 18-yard touchdown. Aaron Donald shut down a fourth quarter redzone attempt with a third down sack. Stafford would connect with Kupp again to get the Rams into the redzone before Sony Michel would walk in the touchdown. Stafford also found wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for a seven-yard score. And then, when the Ravens had the chance to drive down and make it a ball game, veteran pass rusher Von Miller closed the door with an eight-yard sack with 19 seconds left and no timeouts.
The Ravens were playing with backup quarterback Tyler Huntley, and like I said, the Rams appeared flawed, but their stars shined brightest when they needed to and that’s what they’ve been good for all season. The Rams have mortgaged their future for this opportunity. Trading away first-round selections and kicking the cap can down the road. In sacrificing for that, they’ve built a squad of stars who can vault them into a Super Bowl championship. – Kyle Barber, Baltimore Beatdown
Week 18: Niners 27, Rams 24
Wildcard Round: Rams 34, Cardinals 11
Divisional Round: Rams 30, Buccaneers 27
NFC Championship: Rams 20, Niners 17
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