Is there a way to predict what the Super Bowl offenses will do based on the game situation and their alignment?

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Tendencies when the Bengals have the ball

11 Personnel

The Bengals offense operated out of 11 personnel on 78% of their plays this year. With the Bengals’ high usage of 11 personnel, we don’t have any hints to the play call when they are in the huddle. On the line, tendencies are shown. Shotgun snaps result in 83% passes, and motion brings 51% runs (third highest). Compare this 51% run rate to their overall run rate of 32% to realize a player in motion gives the defense an immediate clue that the likelihood of a rush is increased.

When thinking about key moments, many third and fourth downs with short yardages come back as pivotal talking points following a game. The Bengals’ personnel choice in this situation tips their play selection. 11 personnel features a 26% rushing rate, and 12 personnel returns an 88% rushing rate. Compare this to the Rams offense, which uses 11 personnel on 91% of these snaps but has a passing rate of only 57%. 

After first down stops

The Bengals bring a mediocre offensive line (20th in blown block rate on pass plays) against a defensive unit ranked eighth in sacks (40) and third in pressures (310). The Bengals need to avoid failures on first down pass plays, as they show strong tendencies towards pass on second down. After a sack, the Bengals threw the ball on 87% of the subsequent plays (league average is just 78%). When the first down play is an incomplete pass, the Bengals still chose to throw on 83% of the resulting second downs (2nd highest rate in the league). First down stops will allow the Rams to control the game from the defensive side of the ball.

First play after a takeaway

These playoffs, we’ve seen the Bengals generate seven turnovers. In the regular season, their next first down play is a run 56% of the time, while their overall run rate is just 32%. What have we seen this postseason? When not running the clock out, they give the ball to Mixon on half of their plays. This is an opportunity for Rams Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris to call a run blitz in efforts to force a long second down after the Bengals emotional high.

Bengals turnovers and resulting plays, 2021-22 playoffs

Time RemainingScore Diff.TurnoverFirst Down Play
3:01 1QUp 4D. Carr fumbles, L. Ogunjobi recovers.J. Mixon rushes left for 5 yards.
0:12 4QUp 7G. Pratt intercepts D. Carr.J. Burrow kneels.
15:00 1QTiedJ. Bates III intercepts Tannehill.J. Burrow sacked for -3 yards.
6:41 3QUp 10M. Hilton intercepts Tannehill.J. Mixon rushes left for 1 yard.
0:20 4QTiedL. Wilson intercepts R. Tannehill.J. Burrow passes to J. Chase for 19 yards.
2:18 3rdDown 8B. Hill intercepts P. Mahomes.J. Mixon rushes left for 5 yards.
OvertimeTiedV. Bell intercepts P. Mahomes.J. Burrow passes to T. Higgins for 9 yards.

Tendencies when the Rams have the ball

After Explosive Runs

As we make the same observations about the Rams offense, they have a similar overall run rate (35%). One thing the Rams do differently than the league is following explosive run plays. Teams tend to keep “feeding the beast” after they grab a chunk of yards, but the Rams throw the ball at the fourth-highest rate (52%). 

First play after a giveaway

After giving away a turnover, the Rams and Bengals both are among the league’s highest in rushing rate (Rams 58% ranks eighth highest, the Bengals 65% ranks third). They prefer to play safe, get a high percentage positive offensive result, then go back to work.

After first down stops

Where we discussed the Bengals’ reactions to first down outcomes before, the Rams are a little different. If their first down play falls incomplete, they follow a similar 81% pass rate (third-highest) on the resulting second down. But when they take a first down sack, this drops to an eighth-lowest 67%. While the Rams will still take to the air plenty when coming off a failed first down pass, the Bengals defense will not have the same luxury in knowing they can call a heavy coverage defense.

Last Word

The Rams and Bengals share similarities in their offensive rushing tendencies. Both like to play safe after turnovers, and pass coming from shotgun. In a match with plenty of emotion and pressure, where players and coaches historically advocate to “play their game,” the defensive coordinators have the opportunity to really disrupt the offenses by acting against their tendencies. 

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