NFL Super Bowl LVI Preview
Rams Host Bengals For Lombardi Trophy
The wait is finally over. It took a while, but we have narrowed it to two teams vying for a chance to lift the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl LVI. Will the Cincinnati Bengals pull off the improbable and win the Super Bowl? Or, will the Los Angeles Rams win become the second team to win a Super Bowl in their home stadium (Tampa Bay, 2020).
After an exciting regular season that saw many twists and turns, and oh, there's Antonio Brown! If you thought the regular season was fun, the postseason was on crack! The postseason had plenty of pulse-pounding moments from Tom Brady nearly leading the Bucs back from a 27-3 deficit to Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes going toe-toe. In the end, the Bengals and Rams are left as the last two teams standing, but who will come out in front?
Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles
Los Angeles Rams (12-5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)
Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Line: LAR -4.0
Can the Bengals pull off the Impossible?
If you have been keeping up with the NFL season, you are well-accustomed to the shocking and incredible run by the Cincinnati Bengals. Led by Joe Cool, the Bengals got past Vegas, Tennessee, Mahomes, and the Chiefs to make it back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1988. Despite going up against the better team, the Bengals faced adversity throughout the season and in the playoffs.
The Bengals made it to the Super Bowl in 1981 and 1988, but they ran into a guy named Joe Montana both years. Joe Burrow has a chance to do something that Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason (Bengals' Super Bowl QBs) failed to do: win the Super Bowl.
Can Joe Keep his Cool?
I'm not sure Cincinnati would be in this situation if not for having Joe Burrow as their quarterback. I mean, he's a flat-out stud. As he's become known, Joe Cool is no stranger to winning, as he led the LSU Tigers to a perfect season and one of the best college football seasons of all time. Not only would the Tigers win the National Championship in 2019, but Burrow also won the Heisman Trophy.
After Cincy selected Burrow with the first pick in the draft, he wasted no time in making himself known. However, his rookie year was cut short due to a devastating knee injury. While most players struggle to come back from horrific injuries, Burrow wasted no time, as he led the lead in completion percentage and led the Bengals to an AFC North title. From then on, the legend of Joe Cool has only increased, as the Bengals won three-straight playoff games to make it to this point. The Rams may be the better team, but as long as Joe Burrow is on the Bengals, Cincy knows they have a chance.
Is This A Super Bowl or bust for the Rams?
Unlike the Bengals, the Rams were favorites to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the year. However, they have sacrificed a lot to get to this point, as they made a trade before the season to acquire Matthew Stafford from Detroit. Then, the Rams traded more draft picks to Denver to acquire former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller. In addition to acquiring Odell Beckham Jr. off waivers, the Rams seemed to be banking on 2021 being the year for the Rams.
However, if they end up coming up short, this season will only be remembered as a season of what could've been. Not only that, but Sean McVay needs this game to solidify himself as the game's brightest young coach.
Is this Considered a Legacy Game for Matthew Stafford?
With all the talk surrounding Burrow, not many people talk about Matthew Stafford. Stafford seems like he's come a long way since his time with Detroit. After 11 seasons with the Lions, Stafford packed his bags and went off to LA to lead the Rams to the Super Bowl in his first season. In his long career in Detroit, Stafford didn't manage much success in the playoffs. Despite destroying the stat charts each season, he never won a playoff game in Detroit. It's funny how it's only taken him one season in LA to win a playoff game finally. Now, in that season, Stafford has the chance to possibly cement a Hall of Fame career by winning a Super Bowl. The only question is whether or not it will happen.
Cincinnati's O-Line vs. Rams' D-Line
The main thing to watch out for is Aaron Donald and Von Miller going up against a Bengals' o-line that struggled mightily at protecting Joe Burrow all season, as Burrow was the most sacked QB this season. It all culminated when the Bengals' gave up nine sacks in the Divisional Round against the Titans. Although they won the game and have shown tremendous adversity throughout the postseason, they now face a defensive line consisting of Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd, and Von Miller. Burrow may be talented, but so is the defense he faces. If Burrow can evade the pass rush, he'll have to deal with Jalen Ramsay in the secondary.
Cincinnati's defense has also made critical plays in the playoffs, with Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard leading a solid pass rush.
Rams' Skill Players vs. Bengals Skill Players
While both teams possess elite-level defenses, they also have high-powered offenses.
The Rams, aside from Stafford, have plenty of skilled players. While their running backs aren't the best, Stafford has plenty of weapons at receiver to choose from. Guys like Van Jefferson, Odell Beckham Jr., and Offensive Player of the Year winner Cooper Kupp. Kupp put together a record-breaking season and is constantly left open enough to run up the field. While defending Kupp and possibly double-teaming him may be the goal, you can't turn away from OBJ, as the former Cleveland Brown has shown his true colors since joining the Rams mid-season, and he's continued that solid play through the postseason. With a solid tight end in Tyler Higbe, the Bengals' secondary may have their hands full.
The Bengals, on the other hand, have a more balanced offense. They have a running back, in Pro Bowler Joe Mixon, unlike the Rams. We know how good Ja'Marr Chase has been this season, as the rookie has already emerged as a top-five receiver in the league. The Rams need to worry about Chase isn't the only one; second-year man Tee Higgins and veteran Tyler Boyd also provide sparks for Joe Burrow with Boyd's savviness and Higgins' ability to haul in passes no matter what. Tight end CJ Uzomah is Burrow's go-to guy, and it helps that he's active for Super Bowl LVI after suffering a leg injury in their AFC Championship win over the Chiefs. Even though he's not 100 percent, Uzomah wouldn't miss the Super Bowl.
Zach Taylor vs. Sean McVay
The Super Bowl features the youngest head coaching matchup in NFL history (McVay, 36, Taylor, 38). McVay, regarded as one of the best coaches in the NFL, has only made it to the Super Bowl one time, but he knows this year is his best chance at winning a championship even in his short career.
Taylor is only in his third year with the Bengals, but it feels like the Bengals may have finally found their man. Not to mention, he gave game balls to the city of Cincinnati after the team's first playoff win since 1990. If Cincinnati wins the Super Bowl, he could be giving more than just game balls.
I've thought long and hard about this, and although the Rams may be the better team, the Bengals have Joe Burrow. They also have kicker Evan "Money Mac" McPherson, who never misses. I see this game being extremely close, with both teams putting up a fight on both sides of the ball. Ultimately, I see McPherson nailing a kick in the final minutes to seal the victory for the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI.
Jake's Pick: CIN -4.0
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Jake Klausner covers all things sports for ThePyrrhic.com. Keep your eyes peeled for NFL Analysis, World Series Recaps, and more from Jake.
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