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Super Bowl LVI: Ramsey-Chase, Hilton-Kupp matchups will be must-see TV

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Super Bowl LVI: Ramsey-Chase, Hilton-Kupp matchups will be must-see TV
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (pictured) is expected to line up frequently against Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday in Inglewood, Calif. File Photo by Mark Black/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Two wide receiver-cornerback matchups will demand attention in Super Bowl LVI. The Los Angeles Rams' Jalen Ramsey and Cincinnati Bengals' Mike Hilton look forward to defending Ja'Marr Chase and Cooper Kupp, respectively.

"I know it will be a big matchup between us both," Hilton told reporters when asked about defending Kupp. "I feel like we are the best two slots [cornerback and wide receiver] in the game.

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"What bigger stage is there to go and prove it? Me vs. him in the Super Bowl. Can't be a bigger moment."

Kupp set a franchise record with 145 catches this season for the Rams. The All-Pro also led the NFL with 1,947 receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns.

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Hilton, a five-year veteran, entered the season as the No. 2 slot cornerback in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. He finished the campaign as the seventh-highest rated slot cornerback in coverage.

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Kupp is known for his ability to deceive opposing defenders with his routes. He uses quick cuts, shifts in speed and subtle body movements to get opposing defensive backs off-balance. He also is quarterback Matthew Stafford's most trusted target.

"I can't tell you all my secrets, it would be untimely," Kupp said during a media availability this week. "There is something about making every [route] look like one thing. Everything is suppose to look like a go-ball [straight-line speed route].

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"That's the root of where everything comes from. It's about leverage and understanding where [defensive] help is. Sometimes you want to move a guy's hips or make him think he has you covered."

Neither Hilton nor Ramsey will cover the same receiver for the entire game, but they are expected to line up against their opponents' top weapons more often than not.

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The Rams are known for moving Kupp into different spots in their offensive formations to create defensive matchup problems and force adjustments.

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But the Bengals won't make the mistake of taking their eyes off Kupp, despite trying to protect against the Rams other top pass catchers, Odell Beckham Jr., Van Jefferson and Tyler Higbee, as well.

"There is no hiding Cooper Kupp," Bengals secondary coach Steve Jackson said.

"Everybody knows where he is at every point and every down. They move him around so you can't game plan for him, but there is no hiding it. ... You can't isolate on him because they have other good receiving threats outside of him. It creates a challenge [for us]."

Hilton drew Kupp for coverage when the Rams faced his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in 2019. Kupp was held without a catch on four targets in that game. But Kupp is expected to get the best of his matchup against the Bengals, as he has against most defensive backs this season.

Kupp also is a bigger player than Hilton. The Rams wide receiver is listed at 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds, while the Bengals cornerback is 5-foot-9 and 184 pounds.

The outcome Ramsey vs. Chase matchup is a bit more unpredictable. Pro Football Focus rated Ramsey as the best coverage cornerback in the NFL this season. He also ranked inside the Top 10 in outside and inside coverage.

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Sunday's will be the first time the three-time All-Pro battles Chase, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Chase, who already took home one Rookie of the Year award, totaled a Bengals record 1,455 yards this season. He also scored 13 touchdowns and totaled 81 catches as the top playmaker.

Ramsey said he knows he won't guard Chase all game, but noted he asked coach Sean McVay for the assignment.

"Of course, that's what I'm asking for," Ramsey said Monday. "That's what I want. Whoever their best man is, put me on him."

Chase, who uses blazing speed, strength and quick movements to outduel defenders, said he models his game after former Dallas Cowboys star Dez Bryant. He also drew comparisons earlier this season to Anquon Boldin, A.J. Brown, Steve Smith and even the Rams' Beckham.

Chase continues to build on his spectacular chemistry with quarterback Joe Burrow, which carried over from their college days at LSU.

Chase said that through his film studies, he noticed Ramsey "trusts his speed a lot" in coverage. He also said Ramsey uses his size to overpower small players. Chase and Ramsey each are listed at 6-foot-1. Ramsey is 208 pounds, while Chase is 200 pounds.

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"I don't know how fast he runs his 40 [yard dash], but we will see [how fast he is] on game day," Chase said.

The Rams allowed just one receiver -- Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- to surpass 100 receiving yards in a game this postseason. Ramsey allowed receiving scores in each of the Rams' last two playoff games.

Chase went off for more than 100 receiving yards in each of his first two career playoff games. He scored his first post-season touchdown in the Bengals' AFC Championship game win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

He averaged nearly seven catches and 93 yards per game through his initial trio of playoff appearances. The Rams pass defense ranked 22nd in passing yards allowed, but surrendered the second-fewest touchdown passes in the regular season.

Kupp is on an even more explosive postseason run. He totaled 386 yards and scored four times on 25 catches through the Rams' three playoff wins. He averaged more than eight catches and nearly 130 yards in each of those contests.

The Bengals' defense is stronger against the run than the pass, but stepped up so far this season and continues to force turnovers. The Bengals ranked 26th in passing yards allowed in the regular season.

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Super Bowl LVI kicks off Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. The game airs on NBC.

In photos: 2022 Super Bowl Experience

Visitors immerse themselves in the history of the NFL at an interactive exhibition at the Los Angeles Convention Center last weekend. The Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals will meet in Super Bowl 56 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., on Sunday. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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