It’s been the longest season in NFL history, and it all comes down to one final game, and one final tip. We hit on both bets in the conference championships, and now get a fairytale matchup between the Bengals and the Rams.
The Bengals have of course come from nowhere after years of mediocrity, while the Rams have injected more talent into an already loaded team to get a second chance after losing the Super Bowl in 2019.
On paper it’s a home game for the Rams, but it’s going to be a mixed crowd and an electric atmosphere in SoFi Stadium. Let’s take a look at both teams.
NFL Super Bowl LVI Betting Tips
Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams
SoFi Stadium, Monday 10:30am AEDT
The Bengals are here on the back of Joe Burrow, who has overcome a catastrophic knee injury in his rookie year to go from strength-to-strength in year 2. Of course he hasn’t done it all alone. His class and composure are both vital to the teams success, but it helps that he has some great weapons around in him Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd and others. Chase has had a record breaking rookie season having been college teammates with Burrow just a couple of years ago. Higgins has grown on a solid rookie year to make meaningful contributions regularly throughout the season. Mixon has also had a career best year, particularly early in the season when the team was managing Burrow back from his knee injury and leaning heavily on the run game.
All this is a long way to say that the offense is very very good despite being young. They need to be, because the defence is middling at best. No-one expected anything defensively, so what they have delivered is probably above expectations. The coaching too was not highly regarded coming into the season, and have done a good job to give Burrow & co a platform to evolve as the season has gone on. The glaring weakness that still exists is the offensive line. In previous seasons it has been dead-last in protecting the QB, so while they have improved it still hasn’t been great. That could be a key part of this game, but more on that later.
The Rams have been in win-now mode for a few years, and doubled down on that stance by trading for Matthew Stafford before this season. Giving up on Jared Goff and getting the talented veteran out of Detroit has paid off in a big way, with Stafford playing consistently all season and forming a deadly combination with Cooper Kupp. Kupp has gone from pretty good to truly great this season, with Stafford unlocking his abilities and the team scheming him open at will. Robert Woods went down with an ACL, but the team got Odell Beckham Jr to fill the void. Cam Akers missed the regular season with an achilles injury, but they got Sony Michel to help Darrell Henderson carry the load.
The defence was already good, but they went and got Von Miller to make it truly nightmarish. Things have not gone perfectly, and yet the team has been able to fill every hole and build on their strengths to get to this point in the season. Von Miller is a very important veteran addition, as everything he does is done in the wake of Aaron Donald. Teams devote huge amounts of effort and attention to keep Donald away from the QB, which leaves more room for Miller and the other pass rushers to wreak havoc.
I think this one area will be crucial to this game. This is easily the best pass rush that the Bengals have faced, and the offensive line is going to have a hard time keeping pressure away from Burrow. The young QB has elite smarts and composure, but he’s going to have to get the ball out extremely quickly to avoid being sacked regularly. I think the Rams will be able to score fairly comfortably with Stafford running the show and limited resistance from the Bengals, so will Burrow & co be able to keep up while trying to stay away from Donald, Miller & anyone else coming into the back field? I think the underdog fairytale falls flat as a result, and Stafford & co get their own redemption story instead. Rams to win by more than one score.
Courtesy of PuntingInDanger!