Super Bowl Preview

One of the wildest NFL seasons ever culminates with one of the most unexpected and feel-good matchups we have seen in a while. Joe Burrow and the Bengals have taken the nation by storm, knocking off the top two seeds in the AFC on their way to their first Super Bowl since 1989. On the other side of the field is Matt Stafford, playing on a great team for the first time in his 13 year career. A win by the Bengals will solidify Burrow as one of the best quarterbacks in the league, while a Rams’ win will cement Stafford as one of the all-time greats. So who will win the big game? I break down the case for each team and give my prediction below.

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Why the Bengals will win the Super Bowl

The Bengals have a chance to pull off the ultimate worst to first scenario. The Bengals finished 4-11-1 in 2020 and now have a chance to win the Super Bowl only two seasons after drafting Joe Burrow with the #1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Cincinnati controversially drafted Ja’Marr Chase over Penei Sewell with the fifth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but that decision is no doubt a reason why the Bengals are playing this weekend. Chase and Burrow were teammates at LSU and that connection has paid off in Chase’s first year in the league. The duo connected for 1,455 and 13 touchdowns. In a receiving corp of young stars, Chase’s name isn’t the only one to pay attention to. Both Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are dangerous threats wherever they are on the field. But, the Bengals could be without tight end CJ Uzomah who suffered a knee injury against the Chiefs and is in the midst of a breakout year. 

Cincinnati has benefitted from a ball-hawking defense this postseason. The Rams have had problems holding onto the ball this postseason, which bodes well for Vonn Bell, Jesse Bates III, and the rest of the Bengals secondary. They have forced seven turnovers this postseason, a postseason high. But, those turnovers have only produced one touchdown though. If the Bengals are to beat the Rams they will need to turn turnovers into touchdowns more often. 

You can’t talk about the Bengals without mentioning rookie kicker Evan McPherson. McPherson has yet to miss a kick this postseason, He is 3-3 on kicks beyond 50 yards and has kicked two game-winners. No moment seems too big for the rookie, and you can bet if this game is close near the end, McPherson will have a chance to win it.

Why the Rams will win the Super Bowl

Los Angeles has used a much different strategy to build a Super Bowl-caliber team. The team has traded a plethora of first-round picks to acquire players like Jalen Ramsey and Matthew Stafford. This has no doubt paid off as the Rams are playing in their second Super Bowl in four years.

If the Rams are to win, it will be because of the Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp connection. Not one team has been able to stop Kupp this season. Kupp had 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns this season, the second-most receiving yards in NFL history, on his way to winning OPOY. He has terrorized NFL defenses all year and will need to do it one more time for the Rams to win. Don’t forget about the rest of the Rams’ offensive weapons though. Midseason acquisition Odell Beckham Jr. just had his best game with the team a 113-yard performance against the 49ers and has filled in seamlessly for the injured Robert Woods. The Rams are dealing with an injured tight end as well. Tyler Higbee is dealing with a sprained MCL and his status is up in the air. You can check out the full injury report here

The Rams will need to get to Burrow if they are to slow down the Bengals’ explosive offensive. The Bengals have allowed 12 sacks this postseason and allowed 55 in the regular season, the third-most in the league. Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and the rest of the Rams front seven should be in Burrow’s face all day. Burrow has been a magician in regards to avoiding pressure all postseason though, so getting Burrow on the ground will be easier said than done. 

My Pick

The Rams are the second straight team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium and will be the second straight team to win it there. Both Chase and Kupp will have 100+ yards and a score, but the Rams’ postseason experience will be the difference. 

Rams 24, Bengals 21

Liam Baker
Student at the University of Oregon. Author at The Sports Wave.

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