The Los Angeles Rams will be playing the villain role in Super Bowl LVI. The Cincinnati Bengals are one of those feel good stories in sports. A franchise that has been abysmal since nearly its inception into the league is now on the cusp of winning its first Super Bowl. The Bengals are led by a second-year quarterback would not seem to be a favorite as they head to the home stadium of their opponent.
The Rams are a veteran laden team with a head coach in Sean McVay who has already reached a Super Bowl, and boasts some of the best players in the league in wide receiver Cooper Kupp and defensive end Aaron Donald. Cincinnati had a tough road reaching the Super Bowl. They became the first team to upend the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC playoffs since 2018.
The Bengals will look to continue this unlikely run, but will have a huge roadblock in the Rams. In terms of just how unlikely this Bengals run has been, one should point to the regular season records of the two teams.
The AFC’s success as whole was nowhere near the level of the NFC this season. The 10-7 Bengals would have had the worst record of any team in the NFC playoffs this season. Cincinnati’s 10 wins would not have clinched any division in the NFC.
Now records mean nothing once you reach the playoffs. This has been shown as the Bengals took down two of the AFC’s top teams in the Chiefs and Titans. The Bengals march to the Super Bowl has not come without obstacles. They have showed time and time again they can go on the road and pull out a victory.
After pulling numerous upsets over the last couple of weeks, will they be able to do this against their toughest foe in the Los Angeles Rams? The answer here should be a solid No.
The reasoning behind why the Rams are favored and should win this Super Bowl not only lies within the fact they have a rarity in terms of Super Bowl history with home field advantage. This superstar laden defense will be facing off against an offensive line that has had quarterback Joe Burrow on his back foot for the majority of the season. This Rams defense is unlike any seen in the entirety of the AFC.
Burrow has shown that despite the pressure he faces on a near weekly basis, he is still able to overcome and rely on his bevy of talented receivers. That group is led by rookie Ja’Marr Chase.
However, the defenses the Bengals have faced in this playoffs which include the Las Vegas Raiders, Titans and Chiefs pale in comparison to that of the Rams. This is a defense that boast superstars such as cornerback Jalen Ramsey, Aaron Donald, outside linebackers Von Miller and Leonard Floyd. The Bengals have not faced any defense this talented in the playoffs thus far.
With such a patchy offensive line, the Bengals struggled at times with the pass rush of the Chiefs. They gave up nine sacks to the Tennessee Titans the round before.
What we are also getting is a classic matchup of the veteran quarterback vs the young upstart in Matthew Stafford vs Burrow.
Stafford has been a revelation in his first season with the Rams. The steep price the Los Angeles Rams paid to acquire the veteran quarterback has paid huge dividends. Stafford has shown that the quarterback is in the “elite” discussion. He is proving that he was hampered by a daunting and near impossible task in trying to save a deplorable Detroit Lions franchise.
Matthew Stafford did not even get his first postseason victory until this year with the Rams. Although he got the monkey off his back, Stafford has plenty more to prove this weekend.
We can all agree that Joe Burrow is one of the most talented quarterbacks in football. However, the 25-year-old Burrow does not have the pressure and longing for a title that Stafford has.
Stafford has been in charge of leading an NFL franchise since his rookie season in 2009. The veteran will be a conundrum this Bengals defense possibly cannot solve. That’s especially the case as he has found a new backup plan in wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham Jr. has finally become a staple in this offense. In this playoff run, he has become the potent second option the Rams desperately needed. His best game of the season came in the NFC Championship against the 49ers.
This offense of course runs through star receiver Cooper Kupp who led the league in all major receiving categories. He has not slowed down one iota in this playoff run. If anything, he’s picked it up. With Beckham becoming a reliable option opposite of Kupp, this has made life much easier for Stafford.
This Bengals defense will have a huge challenge in trying to stop both of these major targets.
It seems likely the Los Angeles Rams will make life very difficult for this young roster. This will be the Bengals’ toughest challenge all season.
It could go either way, a slim victory for the Rams or a blowout.
Whatever the case, come February 13th, the Los Angeles Rams should be hoisting the Lombardi trophy in their home coming Super Bowl appearance.