CINCINNATI — The biggest factor in Super Bowl 56 is one Cincinnati Bengals fans and players have heard for two weeks: how does the team handle Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams defensive line?
It's an opinion shared by Cris Collinsworth, the former Bengals star, who gave his thoughts on the match-up during an interview with Bengals radio announcer Dan Hoard on Bengals.com. Collinsworth will broadcast the game with former Cincinnati Reds announcer Al Michaels.
Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked more than any quarterback in the NFL during the season. The Tennessee Titans defense got him a record nine times in the AFC Division playoff game. Collinsworth said how Burrow and the Bengals offense react to the Rams pass rush is Cincinnati's key to winning.
"(The Rams) love that overload rush," Collinsworth told Bengals announcer Dan Hoard. "They put Greg Gaines, Von Miller and Aaron Donald all on the same side and force you to block Donald one-on-one. It's a very difficult thing to do. So Burrow has to get throws out quick or he has to rely on those angels that tell him that something's coming and make those magical plays."
The Bengals defense shut down the Kansas City Chiefs offense during the second half and overtime of the AFC Championship game. Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo has been known as a secondary guru and his work this year as defensive coordinator in Cincinnati may be the best of his career. Despite drafting and signing big-time defensive backs prior to the season, the key player is the "homegrown" Jessie Bates, who has matured into one of the best defenders in football.
"I really enjoy watching this secondary," Collinsworth said. "They put it all together with homegrown Jessie Bates. It's been phenomenal defensive play that's changed the tide. That's the unexpected part of what Lou (Anamuro) has been able to do with this defense."
A former young star in Cincinnati himself, Collinsworth said he admires the "it" factor of Joe Burrow, whose distinctive wardrobe and celebratory cigars have garnered attention.
"I wish I was as cool as he is," Collinsworth said. "That kid is 25 years old and he's 100 times cooler than I am. The first time I saw him wearing those outfits and those rose-colored glasses, I was like 'ehh.' Now I want to throw off my NBC blazer and grab one of those jackets. I want to throw one of those on after the game and say, 'see you guys next season.'"
The game kicks off Sunday at 6:30 p.m. You can watch Collinsworth's full preview of the game in the video player below.
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