BBC NFL pundit Jason Bell previews Sunday's LA Rams v Cincinnati Bengals game at Wembley and gives his thoughts on both teams and the prospects for American football in the UK.
Jason on being back at Wembley broadcasting and his initial thoughts on the game.
We love broadcasting games live, we love the energy so that will be fun and ultimately we do have two good teams. I say that because you can look at the Bengals record and say “Jason you’re talking crazy, this is not a good team” but magical things happen when players come together on teams.
Playing over in the UK is a special thing for teams, because you get to bond, you get to come together and figure out how to get better. You get to spend time with each other and that helps you improve on the field, so I want to see if the Bengals can bounce back because they’ve gotten together and said “hey, lets fix this, lets go out and play with some pride and turn this thing around.”
That’s why the Rams, even though they are the favourites in this game, they have to be very, very careful because they are playing a team that’s going to come together and have their backs against the wall. As far as the Rams are concerned, the acquisition of Jalen Ramsey is unbelievable for them, their defence just changed.
They got better immediately and what is significant about that is they need to be led by their defence this year, that’s what needs to happen. They need to be a defense that turns the ball over and gives the offence opportunities to score. That’s not what they were last year, nor is any other team. So I think this fix was important for them. I want to see Ramsey, now in his second week with the Rams, how they implement him as far as the strategy is concerned. I will be looking at that closely in the booth.
Jason on the Rams mixed start to the season and what they need to do to return to the same calibre team that reached the Super Bowl last year.
They need to get better at running the ball. I think Sean McVay is a great coach, but the offensive line has changed, that’s the big issue. I think the offense is now slowly adjusting and getting better given who their personnel is. But the best way and the easiest way to do that is for your defense to lead the way. Your defence helps you out until you get better and hopefully by the time your play-off run happens you are hitting on all cylinders.
They’ve got arguably the best player in the NFL in Aaron Donald, he is so disruptive and now they’ve got a true number one corner, could be the number one corner in the league (it's between him and Stephon Gilmore in my opinion). So right now, they have tools to really be a dominant defence, which they will be hoping gets them to the point where the offence doesn’t have to be as good as it was last year.
Jason on the how the Bengals will be approaching the game
I look at the game through the mindset of a player. So the mindset of a player is this is my job, this is my career, every time I step on the field that is my resume. It doesn’t matter what my team is doing, is doesn’t matter what our record is, it doesn’t matter what the score of the game is.
When I’m on the field I have to put out a good product, and that’s why you always have to be aware in the game of NFL there is so much parity because these players are putting it all on the line, and if they don’t they won’t be out there! So once again you’re going to see their best, because they have to put their best out there. That’s how you stay in the NFL.
Cincinnati Bengals v Los Angeles Rams (BBC Two & Sky Sports Action 5pm GMT Sunday)
- Match Odds: Rams 1/7 | Bengals 5/1
- Handicaps: Rams (-13) 10/11 | Bengals (+13) 10/11
- Points Total: Under 48pts 10/11 | Over 48pts 10/11
- Best Bet: Los Angeles Rams -8.5 and Under 49.5 Total Match Points
Jason on playing in London and the difference between UK and American fans
We have a special thing out here in the UK and it's all because of the fans. The fan base here is unbelievable. Each game is electric, the crowd never stops, that doesn’t happen in the States. In the States if you’re at a home game and your offence is on the field it's quiet, it gets loud for the defence – not out here, its just loud all the time! And that is really cool.
The whole week is like a party, like a play-off atmosphere. That doesn’t happen in the States, we have a unique thing here, it is our own. The UK and the NFL – when the players come here, they know they are getting a special dose, something different, something that would not happen in the States and we are dominating at that. That’s why the growth of the game will continue, and the players will continue to love being out here.
Jason on the possibility of an NFL franchise in the UK
I’ll call Roger Goodell right now, he’s probably working, he might answer he might not! Honestly, I don’t know. I would love it of course without a doubt. My focus is right now, I would love more games here, I want to continue to grow the game over here. I would love to have eight games here. That would be like a home schedule, and I think the fans would love it because they like every team in the NFL and they would get a chance to see their teams.
Jason on Wembley
Its Wembley - it’s an icon and its huge! And who doesn’t like a huge stadium? We’ve now got two great stadiums for NFL here. How lucky are we? And that’s a big reason why the NFL comes to the UK to play these games.
Watch Cincinnati Bengals @ LA Rams at Wembley Stadium on Sunday with live coverage on BBC Two from 4:30pm and on Sky Sports Action from 4:00pm.
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