Following what has been an explosive and exciting series of NFL playoffs games, perhaps maybe ever, the final participants for Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles are set. In one corner are the AFC champions, the upstart Cincinnati Bengals. In the other corner, are the kings of the NFC, the imposing Los Angeles Rams. Perhaps a matchup that many did not see coming, the winner of this game is anyone’s guess.
Nonetheless, the SBS team has their thoughts on what makes each team special and what a final score could look like from SoFi Stadium. Read on to see who will take home the Lombardi Trophy in 2022.
The Bengals have lived and died with their sensational second-year quarterback Joe Burrow and he is also the engine of their whole team. During the 2021 postseason, Burrow has been clutch time and again with an average of 290 passing yards per game and four touchdown throws. What’s important about Burrow is his ability to not only lead the locker room but also his ability to take care of the football-only one interception in the postseason.
For the skill positions, the Bengals feature an electric tandem in wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and running back Joe Mixon. The former has averaged nearly 93 yards per game and is a consistent game-breaker for the Cincy offense. Meanwhile, Mixon is a top running back in the league and has quietly been able to keep the chains moving for the Bengals. If Cincinnati is going to have a big day against the Rams, they need to get the ball in the hands of their playmakers on a consistent basis.
In addition to their offensive playmakers, the Bengals also have the luxury of having an elite kicker on their side in Evan McPherson. Known as “Kickpherson,” the Florida product made all four of his field goals in the AFC Championship win over the Chiefs and has been marvelous during the postseason.
Though the Bengals offense certainly has its fair share of star power, the defense features a stout unit that is capable of hanging with high-powered offenses. Linebacker Germaine Pratt leads the way with 30 tackles in the postseason and the unit has been able to amass eight sacks over the course of three games. However, this is the weak spot for the Bengals and they will need their unit to generate some turnovers if they hope to win in Los Angeles against the Rams.
The NFC West champions, Los Angeles have had a strong postseason led by quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford has thrown for 905 yards and six touchdowns during the course of the postseason, good for a sensational 115.6 quarterback rating. He will be relied on heavily again as his rapport with All-Pro wide receiver Cooper Kupp is perhaps the best in the league. The ground game for the Rams is more underwhelming though as running back Cam Akers has had fumbling issues (two lost fumbles) since his return from an Achilles injury.
Where they could be a distinct advantage in the game, is the star power that the Rams defense has over the Bengals. Led by all-world defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Los Angeles boasts a slew of talented stars both young and old. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey has the ability to lock down any receiver and will have his hands full with Chase, Tee Higgins and the rest of the Cincy receiving corps. While the Rams certainly have stars, they are susceptible to strong quarterback play as evidenced by their shootout win over the Tampa Bay Bucs in the divisional round, 30-27.
Prediction: The last time the Bengals faced a team from Los Angeles, they ran out of gas against the Chargers, 41-22, in December at home. Look for it to be another shootout this time around with a different outcome as the Bengals win 21-17.
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