Super Bowl Preview


Pike Temple, Sports Reporter

Super Bowl LVI has arrived. Two teams remain. In one corner, the Cincinnati Bengals led by Joe Burrow, and in the other corner, the Los Angeles Rams led by Matthew Stafford. Two teams made it to the big dance, only one will leave with the Lombardi Trophy. 

From the AFC, Cincinnati exceeded all expectations. After beating the Raiders in the Wildcard round, the Bengals eliminated the #1 seeded Titans and #2 seeded Chiefs. Starting quarterback Joe Burrow has played a large role in the team’s run to the Super Bowl. Running back Joe Mixon had a good day against the Chiefs and finished the season as a top 5 running back in the league. Wide receivers Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase are an effective duo. The Cincinnati defense forced Patrick Mahomes to throw two interceptions. Cincinnati also has one of the most clutch kickers in football. The only thing the Bengals are missing is an offensive line, which could cause problems against a formidable Rams defensive line. 

The NFC representative, Los Angeles will be playing on their home turf. After kicking the Cardinals out of the playoffs, the Rams snuffed out the Bucs’ hopes for a repeat. Then, against the 49ers, Los Angeles claimed its first victory over their division rival since 2018. Matthew Stafford is definitely capable of leading his team to a Super Bowl win. The triple crown winner, Cooper Kupp, along with fellow teammates Odell Beckham Jr. and Van Jefferson make a great receiver trio. The Rams defense is strong on paper and has played well as of late. But even with a better offensive line than the Bengals, Los Angeles cannot run the ball consistently. 

My pick:

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Los Angeles Rams – Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals magical playoff run will end with Joe Burrow as Super Bowl MVP hoisting the Lombardi. Especially in the playoffs, a running game is super important. Besides opening up play action, a run game prevents an offense from becoming one-dimensional. The Rams run a heavy play-action scheme, but without a real rushing threat, the Los Angeles offense is less effective. However, the Bengals’ offensive line performance against the Rams’ defensive line will play a key role in which team is able to control the game. While the Rams passing attack and defense have gotten LA to the Super Bowl, the lack of a rushing attack will prevent Los Angeles from winning it all. Cincinnati has 2 talented receivers but LA cornerback Jalen Ramsey can only cover one of them. Rams receiver, Cooper Kupp, will likely finish the game with over 100 yards and a touchdown, but Los Angeles has a hard time with putting together long, methodical drives. With two great safeties to defend the deep pass, Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III, an onslaught of underneath routes from the Rams could move the ball efficiently. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, once the offense gets inside the red zone, the lack of a running game will force McVay to kick short field goals early in the game. Stafford will make one bad read, typically on a deep crossing pattern where the safety peels off the crosser and covers the post route. A scenario like this almost cost LA the game against San Francisco. Luckily for Rams fans, the safety dropped the easy interception. In a similar fashion, an interception from Matthew Stafford will help the Bengals keep up with the Rams into the 4th quarter. Burrow and the Cincinnati offense will score a touchdown late thanks to the extra possession and take the lead with only a few minutes left on the game clock. On the Rams’ ensuing drive, Stafford will take the offense into Cincinnati territory, but LA won’t be able to score a touchdown within the final seconds and lose at home in Los Angeles.