February 11, 2022 | SPORTS | By Max Giles | Illustration by Sierra Romero
The most watched broadcast on American TV is set: the Los Angeles Rams will be hosting the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at their own house, SoFi Stadium. The game is set to take place on Sunday, Feb. 13 at 4:30 MST on NBC.
To say this year’s Super Bowl teams are surprising would be an understatement. ESPN says it’s a “matchup that almost none of us expected when the 2021 season began” in their Super Bowl preview. The Rams are favored at an opening line of – 3.5 and the game’s over/under is set at 50 points.
The Bengals have not made it to the championship in 33 years, dating back to the 1988-1989 NFL season. An appearance in the Super Bowl after a season with just four wins is incredible unique .
On the other hand, the Rams will be playing in their home stadium. This is the second year a team is at home for the Super Bowl. Last year’s champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also played at home.
Both team’s quarterbacks will be key players to watch during the game. The Rams’ Matthew Stafford, a veteran, and Bengals’ Joe Borrow, a young starter, were both number 1 overall picks in their respective draft classes.
Stafford is now .500 in his playoff career in four total postseason appearances, despite failing to win a game in his first three playoff games with the Detroit Lions. He has a 3-3 record in the playoffs. The games prior to this are where Stafford found his three playoff wins.
Meanwhile, Burrow is making his first playoff appearance, and has been nothing short of spectacular thus far. His name is being crowned on social media with nicknames like ‘Joey Franchise’ and ‘Joe Shiesty’ after taking one of the league’s historically worst teams to the Super Bowl in just two seasons.
These teams were both ranked as the No. 4 seed in their conferences coming into the playoffs: the Rams finished 12-5 in the regular season while the Bengals finished 10-7.
If the Rams want to win this game, the key will be solid play from Stafford and a dominating performance from defensive line stars Aaron Donald and Von Miller.
Additionally, if Cooper Kupp, who led the league in receptions, receiving-yards, and receiving-touchdowns, can continue his effectiveness in the wide-receiver position, it will put the Bengals defense at a massive disadvantage.
For the Bengals, victory will rely on a strong showing from their inconsistent defense and the offensive-line, deterring the Rams dominant pass rushers. As long as they can protect Burrow to some extent, the team is in great shape.
My prediction is that the Rams will keep the Vince Lombardi Trophy in L.A. On paper, the Rams have the more talented roster.
I won’t deny that it feels like the stars are aligning for a Bengals Cinderella story and that Burrow has the drive to get the job done. However, Sean McVay, head coach of the Rams, is one the league’s premier coaches and has Super Bowl experience.
Stafford wants a ring before it’s too late and, honestly, the front-four for the Rams are going to be too much for the Bengals offensive-line to handle. My final prediction is 31 – 25 Rams.
Whoever ends up with the Lombardi Trophy, it is safe to say that this Super Bowl is one to look forward to.