The Super Bowl Report: Did Rams catch a break facing Bengals and not Chiefs?

Sean McVay talks with quarterback Matthew Stafford against the San Francisco 49ers.
(Doug Benc / Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Just as in 2018 when Gary Klein said the Rams would reach the Super Bowl, he was right again this season. Question is: Can they win it this time? Los Angeles Times’ Rams beat writer Klein, NFL writer Sam Farmer and columnists Bill Plaschke and Dylan Hernández discuss the Rams’ prospects:


What do you think about the Rams facing the Bengals instead of the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVI?

Plaschke: The Rams dodged a huge bullet when the Bengals beat the Chiefs. First, there won’t be any signs of that racist tomahawk chop chant infecting SoFi. Second, while the Chiefs could beat the Rams, the Bengals can’t — and won’t.

Klein: Any game that does not include Patrick Mahomes is not going to be as attractive as the alternative. Remember the 2018 “Monday Night Football” matchup? The Rams won, 54-51. Now that was super entertaining. But Joe Burrow and the rest of the young Bengals could grow on everyone.

Farmer: That Chiefs-Rams game a few years ago was an all-time classic, but it would have been three Super Bowl appearances in a row for the Chiefs. Time for some new story lines. Now, with two No. 4 seeds reaching the big stage, it’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Hernández: To me, seems like the stars are lining up for the Rams to win this whole thing. I’m sure their former fans back in The Loo — sorry, I mean The Lou — are thrilled that Stan Kroenke’s team is catching a break.

Click here to read the rest of this NFL roundtable discussion.

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Gary Klein on four underrated moves the Rams made to reach the Super Bowl: The Rams made plenty of blockbuster trades and other headline-grabbing moves en route to earning a spot in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.

But they also made several significant lower-profile moves. Decisions that, directly or indirectly, proved important to helping them win the NFC title and reach the Super Bowl.

Oct. 25: Rams trade linebacker Kenny Young to the Denver Broncos

Young was acquired from the Baltimore Ravens in the 2019 trade that sent cornerback Marcus Peters to the Ravens, a deal that opened the door for the Rams to trade for star cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

Young became a starter in 2020, and he started the first seven games this season.

But after a loss to the Arizona Cardinals in their fourth game, the Rams decided it was time to begin working rookie Ernest Jones into the defensive game plan and eventually make him a starter.

On Oct. 25, the Rams sent Young and a 2024 seventh-round pick to the Broncos in exchange for a 2024 sixth-round pick.

The move created salary-cap space and — perhaps more significantly — no doubt spurred discussion between Rams general manager Les Snead and the Broncos’ George Paton about other players. A week after the Young trade, the Rams sent their second- and third-round picks in this year’s draft to the Broncos for eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller.

For the other three moves, click here.


Dylan Hernández on Sean McVay: He was the boy wonder who could do no wrong.

Until he did.

Sean McVay has yet to regain the aura that he lost three years ago when Bill Belichick flooded the line of scrimmage and shut down the previously high-scoring Rams’ offense in Super Bowl LIII.

“Definitely, I got outcoached,” McVay said after that 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots.

The coaching prodigy who was once beyond reproach suddenly came under scrutiny. The season after the Super Bowl run, the Rams missed the playoffs. The season after that, McVay’s frustrations with the offense resulted in the benching and subsequent trade of franchise quarterback Jared Goff.

Even with the Rams returning to the Super Bowl this year, the 36-year-old McVay continues to be the target of widespread criticism. The popular view now is that the high-end talent on his roster is compensating for his shortcomings.

“The criticism is just part of being in these leadership roles,” McVay said. “Definitely, you kind of get callous to it a little bit. But I also think one of the best ways is, you know, you kind of try to stay ignorant to it. You try to minimize having stuff that can put into your being that just isn’t good energy and good positive vibes.”


Sam Farmer on Tom Brady: After a brief retirement rhumba — he’s done, he’s not — future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady officially called it a career Tuesday morning, announcing his decision after 22 seasons, three NFL most valuable player awards and an unmatched seven Super Bowl rings — six with the Patriots and one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

At age 44, he retires as the league’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. Brady’s 76.9 career winning percentage ranks first in the Super Bowl era among quarterbacks with at least 75 starts. Thirteen times he led his teams to 12 or more victories, a record among quarterbacks. Brady has appeared in an NFL record 10 Super Bowls and 14 conference title games. In 20 seasons as the primary starting quarterback, he directed his teams to 18 division titles. He also set NFL records with 32 player-of-the-week and 11 player-of-the-month honors.

“My playing career has been such a thrilling ride, and far beyond my imagination, and full of ups and downs,” he wrote in a two-part message posted on his Twitter account. “When you’re in it every day, you really don’t think about any kind of ending. As I sit here now, however, I think of all the great players and coaches I was privileged to play with and against — the competition was fierce and deep.”

Appreciations poured in from all angles for a player who rose from a sixth-round draft pick in 2000 — the seventh quarterback chosen in that class — to the widely recognized “Greatest of All Time,” or GOAT.

“Tom Brady will be remembered as one of the greatest to ever play in the NFL,” Roger Goodell, the league’s commissioner, said in a written statement. “An incredible competitor and leader, his stellar career is remarkable for its longevity, but also the sustained excellence he displayed year after year.”


Plaschke: Tom Brady overcame his doubters with a greatness that made anything possible

Tom Brady was nearly a USC Trojan and Charger, but left his mark on L.A. from afar


Fired Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores sued the NFL and three of its teams Tuesday, saying racist hiring practices by the league have left it racially segregated and managed like a plantation.

The lawsuit in Manhattan federal court sought class-action status and unspecified damages from the league, the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants, along with unidentified individuals.

Flores was fired last month by Miami after leading the Dolphins to a 24-25 record over three years. They went 9-8 in their second straight winning season, but failed to make the playoffs during his tenure.

A message sent to the NFL for comment was not immediately returned.

The lawsuit alleges that the league has discriminated against Flores and other Black coaches for racial reasons, denying them positions as head coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators and quarterbacks coaches, as well as general managers.

“In certain critical ways, the NFL is racially segregated and is managed much like a plantation,” the lawsuit said.

“Its 32 owners — none of whom are Black — profit substantially from the labor of NFL players, 70% of whom are Black. The owners watch the games from atop NFL stadiums in their luxury boxes, while their majority-Black workforce put their bodies on the line every Sunday, taking vicious hits and suffering debilitating injuries to their bodies and their brains while the NFL and its owners reap billions of dollars,” it said.


SoFi Stadium is hosting the Super Bowl. Tickets are selling fast, and so is the on-site parking. We have all the information on how to get to the big game in this video.


Super Bowl Sunday
Feb. 13
at SoFi Stadium, Inglewood

Rams vs. Cincinnati, 3:30 p.m. PT, Rams favored by 4 1/2 points

TV: NBC and Telemundo.
Radio: Westwood One radio (AM 570 in Los Angeles), SiriusXM NFL Radio, NFL GamePass.
Streaming: NFL app (iOS, Android), Peacock app (iOS, Android), Telemundo app (iOS, Android), Yahoo Sports

To buy tickets (after mortgaging your house to afford them): Ticketmaster, OnLocation, HOFExperiences, VividSeats, SeatGeek

Halftime show: Recording artists Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar are scheduled to perform in the Super Bowl halftime show. The NFL has yet to announce who will sing the national anthem before the game.

Coronavirus guidelines if you attend: Under Los Angeles County’s coronavirus health and safety guidelines, all fans in attendance must be vaccinated. Fans attending the game will be required to wear masks and will be given KN95 masks. For further coronavirus rules and guidelines, click here.


Just for fun, over the next two weeks we will be running a tournament to determine the best Super Bowl/NFL/AFL champion of all time. The teams have been seeded 1-64 (using a combination of regular season record, regular season point differential and playoff point differential) and put into four regions, just like the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Using the Second And Ten computer game, we will run the games to determine the best team of them all. Since there are only 55 Super Bowl winning teams, we chose nine teams from before the Super Bowl era to compete, all champions of either the NFL or the AFL. They are: 1950 Cleveland Browns, 1951 Los Angeles Rams, 1953 Detroit Lions, 1960 Philadelphia Eagles, 1961 Houston Oilers, 1962 Green Bay Packers, 1963 San Diego Chargers, 1963 Chicago Bears and the 1964 Buffalo Bills.

We continue with the first round results from the Walter Payton Region:

No. 1 1985 Chicago Bears d. No. 16 New York Giants, 29-10
Jim McMahon passed for one touchdown, Walter Payton ran for one and Wilber Marshall ran an interception back 35 yards for a TD as the Bear defense held Eli Manning to 82 yards passing.

No. 15 1951 Los Angeles Rams d. No. 2 1998 Denver Broncos, 28-7
The biggest upset of the tourney so far as Norm Van Brocklin passes for 311 yards and a touchdown. Tom Fears has that TD reception to go with 155 yards receiving.

No. 3 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers d. No. 14 2018 New England Patriots, 21-0
Terry Bradshaw passes for 255 yards and two touchdown and Rocky Blieier runs for 67 yards and a TD.

No. 13 2006 Indianapolis Colts d. No. 4 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers, 34-17
Peyton Manning was 15-of-20 for 235 yards and a touchdown and Joseph Addai ran for 110 yards to stop the Steelers, who got 100 yards rushing and two TDs from Franco Harris.

No. 5 1963 Chicago Bears d. No. 12 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers, 10-3
A defensive struggle, with the only touchdown coming on Billy Wade‘s quarterback sneak midway through the third quarter.

No. 6 1953 Detroit Lions d. No. 11 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 14-7
The Lions’ points came on a 75-yard punt return for a TD by Yale Lary and a 19-yard interception return for a TD by Lary with 4:32 to go in the game.

No. 7 1994 San Francisco 49ers d. No. 10 1997 Denver Broncos, 31-21
49ers quarterback Steve Young was the star, passing for 279 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Jerry Rice had 106 yards and a TD.

No. 8 2017 Philadelphia Eagles d. No. 9 1969 Kansas City Chiefs, 20-17
The Eagles defense stole the show getting a fumble return and an interception return for touchdowns.

Tomorrow: First-round results from the Joe Montana Region. The teams:

No. 1: 1984 San Francisco 49ers
No. 2: 1991 Washington Redskins
No. 3: 2004 New England Patriots
No. 4: 2003 New England Patriots
No. 5: 1964 Buffalo Bills
No. 6: 1960 Philadelphia Eagles
No. 7: 1996 Green Bay Packers
No. 8: 1992 Dallas Cowboys
No. 9: 1971 Dallas Cowboys
No. 10: 1961 Houston Oilers
No. 11: 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 12: 2019 Kansas City Chiefs
No. 13: 1987 Washington Redskins
No. 14: 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 15: 1967 Green Bay Packers
No. 16: 2012 Baltimore Ravens


Two Super Bowl polls for you to vote in: Which team will win, and who will be named the game’s MVP? Click here to vote. Results will be announced on Super Bowl Sunday.


I asked you to send me the name of you favorite football player and why, and I was deluged with answers. Answers will be printed starting today. Keep sending them in by emailing me at Include a couple of sentences explaining why that player is your favorite. It’s your chance to be read by the tens of thousands of people who subscribe.

Dan Skora: Otis Taylor. Ahead of his time as a big strong target for Len Dawson on the Chiefs when they were a run first, run second type of team. Today, he’d be a superstar. Lastly, He defended Dawson after a spearing by a Raider not to be named.

John Phelps of Georgetown, Texas: I’m voting for George Blanda. I am of certain age and started admiring Blanda when he played for my then favorite team the Chicago Bears. It was a big deal when he went to the upstart Raiders of the AFL. He ran rampant as a quarterback and as a field-goal kicker, too. I remember hearing an excited broadcaster say Blanda’s eyes lit up like a pinball machine when he crossed 50 yard line because he knew he would get points one way or another.

Ed Chacon: Joe Montana. Just watching him when it was late in the game and the Niners were down coming into the huddle licking those two fingers on his throwing hand, you just knew that he was going to pull out a win. Never lost a Super Bowl.

Doug Brown of Thousand Oaks: In an era when linemen were not really valued, David “Deacon” Jones was one of the most valuable and feared players on either side of the line. He was fast, strong, ferocious, and well-spoken. Jones was a team leader when the Rams were excellent, but not quite good enough to beat Lombardi’s Packers. I loved watching Rams games and seeing Jones (and the rest of the Fearsome Foursome) go after Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr and the other great QBs of the era. My dad was a huge football fan, and raised me on stories of Crazy Legs Hirsch, Norm Van Brocklin, and others. As a kid in the Valley in the 1960s, I loved football Sundays with my dad, watching Deacon Jones terrorize opposing lineman and quarterbacks alike. Jones was a game-changer!

And finally

Highlights from Super Bowl V. Watch and listen here.

Highlights from Super Bowl VI. Watch and listen here.

Highlights from Super Bowl VII. Watch and listen here.

Highlights from Super Bowl VIII. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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