At the beginning of the year, no one could’ve expected the Super Bowl to be the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams. Maybe some Rams fans felt like they were Super Bowl contenders, but the Bengals were coming off of a rough year with their quarterback going down with a serious knee injury.
Fast forward to now, and both teams come in optimistic that they will hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Who will win this match-up? Below is a look at the game itself, with the straight-up winning pick, pick against the spread, and the over/under. Stay tuned for another article that will cover the various prop bets that look enticing for this matchup. The Super Bowl always has great opportunities to put money down on prop bets, so it’s deserving of a second article.
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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams -4.5
The line has stayed pretty steady at -4.5 for the Los Angeles Rams. Even though both teams have been impressive during this playoff run, Los Angeles is the more complete team on paper. They can get things done in a variety of ways, and they have a little more seasoning at key positions as well.
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With that being said, Cincinnati is not going to be backing down from anyone. They are a true underdog story hoping to cap off the dream season with their first league championship in team history. These are how both teams plan on approaching LVI.
The fortunes changed for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2019 when they were rewarded with the number one overall pick. They use that on Joe Burrow, who quickly turned into a franchise quarterback that has them optimistic for the next decade. Fans always thought they would have a chance to be contenders, but probably not this quickly. That’s especially true after a knee injury last year cut his season short.
Despite having a below-average offensive line protecting Burrow, the passing game has been very efficient. They were able to score a come-from-behind victory over the Kansas City Chiefs to win the AFC, and he has plenty of weapons to turn to. Most notably, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins both need to be solid in the Super Bowl to pull off the victory.
Their offense is strong, but their defense still has some cause for concern. They fell behind in the AFC Championship to Kansas City because they couldn’t stop the passing game on the outside. They’ll need to come in with a better game plan to stop the Rams early on, because putting pressure on the offense to come from behind again might be asking too much.
Look for Cincinnati to try to ride the momentum they currently have for one more game. On paper, they don’t match up as the better team, but confidence can go a long way. Cincinnati has already shown that they can be a better team on paper than the Kansas City Chiefs, so taking on the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl doesn’t seem all that daunting to them.
Matthew Stafford has shown that he too is a reliable, former number one quarterback who can make great plays down the stretch. A lot of playoff games this year have been close, and in the last two weeks, Stafford has shown poise in the fourth quarter. For his career, he has over 34 fourth-quarter comebacks, and he’s had two in the last two weeks in the playoffs.
The weapons for Stafford are outstanding as well. Cooper Kupp has been the best wide receiver all year, and Odell Beckham Jr. has been a great addition. Facing a Cincinnati defense that isn’t outstanding, they should be able to get their points.
Perhaps the major key for Los Angeles is sticking with what has them here in the first place. Sean McVay has been trying to be creative with his playcalling and coaching in general, but some feel like he’s only getting in his way. The Los Angeles Rams seem to play great when they are a free-flowing team on offense, and a consistent stopping team on defense. Don’t mess that up, and they’ll be in the game to push for a win.
With all the talk surrounding the offense, the Rams win this game if their front four on defense puts enough pressure on Joe Burrow. Aaron Donald and Von Miller will be coming after the quarterback a little more than usual, given that it’s Cincinnati’s biggest weakness. Burrow’s been able to manage all this pressure for most of the year, but there has to be a breaking point. When looking at past Super Bowls, one major key to success has been interior pass-rushing to get the other quarterback out of their comfort zone.
Pick Against the Spread: Cincinnati Bengals +4.5
With a line at -4.5 for the Rams, that just seems like way too much for a still underappreciated Cincinnati Bengals team. Even those who might not think they have a chance to win will probably concede that the Bengals will keep a close. It’s not like the Los Angeles Rams are blowing people out in the postseason anyway.
Joe Burrow will find an opportunity to keep Cincinnati in the game and give him a chance to win. It might come down to the last possession, but getting more than a field goal with the spread means Cincinnati is the safest pick for a win.
Straight Up Winning Pick: Cincinnati Bengals
It might be a shocker to some, but the Cincinnati Bengals essentially go on the road and win their first-ever Super Bowl. They have a tough matchup with Los Angeles, but counting out Joe Burrow right now seems like a very tough proposition. He’s the hottest quarterback in the NFL right now, and might be the heir apparent to Tom Brady if he can finish the deal. He’s already turned into a Cincinnati legend, and winning a Super Bowl would take it to another level.
The Rams will be right there in what should be a close contest. If they were a little more comfortable putting pressure on the quarterback throughout the year, they might do enough damage to pressure Burrow into mistakes. However, them aggressively pass-rushing Cincinnati also takes them too much out of their comfort zone. If it turns into a true quarterback showdown, Burrow gets the best of Stafford.
With so much talk about the offense on both sides, the over/under pick should be fairly obvious. It is pretty high at 48.5, but both quarterbacks are hot and the game will be close enough that the two teams will need to score to keep up. It would not be surprising at all to see the winning team get to at least 30 points, which will likely put the total over 48.5.
The only thing to look out for is if Los Angeles gets an early lead and tries to slow the game down. It’s possible, as their game last week was pretty low-scoring. However, San Francisco doesn’t have nearly the same type of offense as Cincinnati. When looking at the other two playoff games for Los Angeles, they scored 30 and 34 points.
Final Super Bowl LVI Thoughts
All in all, this figures to be a pretty intriguing Super Bowl matchup. It doesn’t involve teams dominating all year, but they found ways to get hot at the right time. The Bengals are going for their first-ever Super Bowl title, while the Los Angeles Rams hope to win for the first time in their new city. Their only Super Bowl title in franchise history came in St. Louis.
With a star-studded halftime show and the Los Angeles factor in general, this game has all the makings of being a memorable one. All signs seem to point to a close game in the end. Cincinnati’s moment is very real at this point, as they’ve been more and more impressive with each victory.