It’s the day before the day before!
For the third time in four seasons, the NFC West is in the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, the Seattle Seahawks aren’t in any of those games, but what has remained true since 2002 divisional realignment is that the Seahawks are the only NFC West team to win a Super Bowl. The Los Angeles Rams are looking to put that stat in the trash can when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
DraftKings Sportsbook has the Rams as 4-point favorites to win the Super Bowl in their home stadium. Cincinnati has won consecutive road games as the underdog and will look to make it a hat trick on Sunday — they’re technically the “home team” in official designations but don’t be stupid about it.
Here’s what the Field Gulls staff is predicting for Super Bowl 56. We got everyone on staff except Tyler Alsin, who’s on vacation but just pretend that he is going with the complete opposite of what John Gilbert wrote.
I am 100% rooting for the Bengals to win. It’s not just because the Rams are on the other side but also it’s cool to see a long-suffering city finally win it all – that used to be the Seattle Seahawks until 2013. Cincinnati is a fun team with a lot of fun players and their run to the Super Bowl has been nothing short of admirable.
Now with all of that said, I think the Rams should be able to win this. If Cincinnati’s defense continues to play the way they’ve played all postseason then they have a shot to pull off the upset, but I don’t see how the Bengals offensive line can contain Aaron Donald and the Rams’ defensive front. Joe Burrow will be under a ton of pressure and I think the sacks he’ll inevitably take will lead to turnovers. Cincinnati has also settled for far too many field goals in these playoffs and that ain’t gonna get it done against this Rams offense. They need to pressure Matthew Stafford consistently and they really only have one guy (Trey Hendrickson) who can do that. Give Stafford time and that’ll allow Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr to feast on Cincy’s good but still overmatched secondary. I don’t anticipate either team’s rushing attack to factor in a whole lot.
Rams 31 Bengals 16. Cooper Kupp wins Super Bowl MVP with 10+ catches and over 100 yards receiving along with a touchdown.
John P. Gilbert
The Rams ended the 1999 season by winning the last Super Bowl before Tom Brady was drafted. They’re now going to bookend that by winning the first Super Bowl after he retires. Go Rams!
Who SHOULD win, in a just universe? The Bengals. Who WILL win? The Rams. A low scoring affair, as Super Bowls often are. Plenty of turnovers. MVP is either Cooper Kupp (12-145-1) or Aaron Donald (two sacks, one FF). Bet the under. Rams 20, Bengals 16. Bonus points to you if that score looks familiar.
Video games have something called “comeback mechanic.” Maybe I’ve fallen victim to paranoid thinking, but it sure seems like the NFL has allowed for a certain comeback mechanic to exist during this year’s playoffs. Too many close games gives to sports a quality like professional wrestling. The thrill of a closely fought contest is cheapened by the stench of engineering—outside interference. I expect an initially lopsided game. Either team could race out to a lead, but I’ll pick LA. Cincy will storm back, take the lead, but lose on a last second-ish drive by the Rams. But it’s a toss up whether Matthew Stafford or Joe Burrow “Hulk up” in the critical moments. We’ll just have to see which real American ate his vitamins Sunday morning.
Rams 34 - Bengals 28
The Bengals have just barely gotten by this postseason with a suspect offensive line, thanks to the magic of Joe Burrow. Unfortunately for the Bengals, Aaron Donald and the Rams defensive line is the first truly elite pass rush they will have faced in the playoffs, and Cincinnati’s linemen will be eaten alive. Joe Burrow was the most-sacked quarterback in the regular season, being brought down 51 times, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he became most-sacked quarterback ever in a Super Bowl on Sunday (Cam Newton currently holds the record, having been sacked seven times in Super Bowl 50). Aaron Donald will be the just the third defensive Super Bowl MVP of the last 15 years, joining Von Miller (50) and Malcolm Smith.
Final: Rams 27, Bengals 17
Frank T. Raines
The AFC’s 4-seed vs. the NFC’s 4-seed; I’m sure this is exactly what the league office was hoping for this year. “Must see TV”, this is not. Especially when you despise one of the teams like Jedi despise Sith (don’t correct me on that) and the other one is the Bungles Bengals, a team that’s been playing with house money since the wildcard round after snapping a 31-year streak of playoff futility.
My predictions are that the commercials will be more interesting than the game itself and the Bengals will win by 3. Pretty sure only one of those predictions will be accurate though. C’est la vie (and FTR!).
The Rams were bottom-10 in giveaways this season, with Matthew Stafford tying Trevor Lawrence with a league-leading 17 interceptions. In each of their five losses, they gave up at least two turnovers. The Bengals defense has been on fire this postseason, picking off passes from Derek Carr, Ryan Tanehill, and Patrick Mahomes for a collective total of six over three games. They’re +5 in the postseason overall. Stafford, on the other hand, has actually been taking great care of the ball thus far in the postseason, throwing 6 touchdowns to only 1 pick. If the Bengals have any hope of pulling this one off, it is going to rest in the hands of their defenders, but all of that being said I am taking the Rams.
Final: Rams 25, Bengals 16
After watching Pete Carroll play it safe throughout the season when faced with opportunities to be aggressive, I’ve noticed a lot of the same characteristics displayed by Sean McVay. There was even a wasted challenge in the NFC Championship game that felt all too familiar. The Bengals have been more aggressive throughout the playoffs and there are just way too many people counting them out in this game.
I previewed some of the matchups with Anthony Cosenza of Cincy Jungle is this week’s podcast:
Final: Bengals 28, Rams 15
This is a fun little game of matchups, with Aaron Donald vs the Bengals line, Ja’Marr Chase vs Jalen Ramsey, Sean McVay vs former McVay assistant Zac Taylor. You can break down the matchups all you want, with the popular take being that the Bengals won’t be able to stop Aaron Donald, but neither can the entire NFL. This is also game 21 for the Bengals on the season, and they made it to the Super Bowl, so you think they haven’t figured out how to play with their poor offensive line by now? Football is a weird game and I often think people overthink things, so I’ll point to the obvious regression to the mean for me. The rookie Evan McPherson’s magic will finally run out, as he has been perfect in the playoffs after going 15/20 on attempts of 40+ during the season with back to back game winners. It’ll be a fun game, but two big misses from McPherson will hurt as the Rams win 27-23.
On paper, the Rams should take care of business and win this game. They have a significant advantage in both of the trenches, specifically with their pass rush going up against the Bengals offensive line. If the Bengals want to come away with a win, Joe Mixon is probably going to have to have an impactful game on the ground and Cincinnati is going to need to execute a lot of quick passes and get the ball out in a hurry.
That being said, there has been every reason to doubt Joe Burrow multiple times this postseason. Many thought he wouldn’t beat the Titans. Most believed there was no way they could win (again) at Arrowhead, especially 25 minutes of the way through the AFC Title Game. But he continues to find a way. I think it will come right down to the wire, with the Rams just edging out a Super Bowl win.
Rams 31, Bengals 28
Terrance Robinson (thadisrad)
Root Down, a poem..
Joe Burrow’s favorite movie is Pootie Tang.
How cool is that?
I see Joe Burrow whipping out the apple belt
And I see him embarrassing the Rams
And I see a quick cut to Wanda Sykes
After a Tee Higgins teeder.
And I see Ickey Woods
Doing the Ickey Shuffle.
Bengals’ O is very interesting.
Rams’ D is very good.
Sean McVay is a case of Red Bull
Covered in freckled flesh
L.A. Looks hair products.
Cooper Kupp is hometown so that complicates things.
(And also the 2pac hologram is making a comeback at half-time)
Bengal Tigers 31, Satan’s Rams 18
So that’s 8-3 in favor of the Rams. It’s not like we want them to win (other than Gilbert) but it’s in line with consensus on this matchup.
Come hang with us in our game thread on Sunday, and don’t forget that there will be a Super Bowl Enemy Reaction early next week regardless of who the winner is.