By Chris Schisler
Super Bowl LVI time. The Cincinnati Bengals will take on the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl. Super Bowl Sunday is fastly approaching and we’ve had plenty of time to dig into this one. One of the exciting things about this game is that both teams feel like a team of destiny. The Bengals are on their magic carpet ride, they have a quarterback and a burning hot hope to go with him. The Rams went all-in and this feels like Matthew Stafford’s time to spring up into the pantheon of great quarterbacks. It’s different for both teams but we’re talking magic either way.
So how does this game go down? Here are four predictions and a score for the biggest game of the year, Super Bowl LVI:
1. A Quarterback battle for the ages:
Joe Burrow is a tough quarterback. If we’ve learned anything about Burrow this season it’s that nothing is going to be too big for him. The stage isn’t going to bother him. On the other side, Matthew Stafford is a very experienced quarterback and he’s never out of a game with his arm. This is Stafford’s big chance at glory and he should be expected to bring his A-game. There will be a winner and loser for this game, but neither quarterback will be charged with the crime of letting their team down.
I expect Burrow to have 250-300 yards in the air and to be very efficient. Burrow completed just over 70 percent of his passes in the regular season and he’s sitting at a 68.8 percent completion percentage in the postseason. He’s got no shortage of weapons and he’s a good decision-maker. We know that nothing gets to Burrow, no amount of pressure and no amount of stakes are going to take him out of his element. He’s got a little Ben Roethlisberger in him, you can hit him and he just keeps slinging the football. Let’s go on the high end for Burrow. Let’s say he goes 28-41 passing for 300 yards and three touchdowns.
Matthew Stafford threw for 4,886 yards in the regular season. He fits into the Rams offense and he has a full command of it. Stafford is red hot during this postseason. He had 337 yards, two touchdowns and a pick against the San Francisco 49ers. He had 366 yards and two touchdowns against the Buccneeers, with the game sealing bomb to Cooper Kupp to get into field goal range. The Rams are the best when Stafford gets to fire all the rockets all over the field. Look for Stafford to shine. Let’s say he’s 35-49 passing for 345 yards and four touchdowns. If it goes down like this we’ll remember this shootout for years to come.
2. This one is going to be a drama producing game
When the Rams take on anybody in the playoffs it always seems to be a tight game. The 49ers looked poised to beat them. The Buccaneers almost came back and beat the Rams after they built a huge lead. The Rams are a team that play with fire. Just look at Sean McVay’s other playoff games. Remember the Rams vs. Saints playoff game on the last Rams’ run to the Super Bowl? Exactly. The Rams are a neccesary ingredient to a crazy playoff game.
The Bengals had the easiest path to the Super Bowl and it was still filled with drama. They played a Las Vegas Raiders team that barely made the playoffs and didn’t look like they belonged once the postseason started. That game was still too close for comfort. The Bengals then played the Titans and have Ryan Tannehill to thank for giving them the game. That game was razor thin tight and the way the Titans played the Bengals probably should have walloped them. The Chiefs fell apart but were killing the Bengals before they crumbled. Neither team has an easy button. This game is going to be intense.
3. The trenches will be a huge advantage for the Rams:
Games are won and lost in the trenches. The Cinncinati Bengals gave up more sacks than anybody this season. Burrow may be good at taking a beating, but that also means he’s good for some negative plays. Drive killers are what get you beat in a shootout. This game is billed as a last quarterback to get the ball kind of affair. Keeping pace is huge. Sacks and holding penalties are going to be a problem for the Bengals against a Rams team that can pressure Burrow without sending extra blitzers. The four biggest words in this game could be : Aaron Donald, Von Miller.
Counting the playoffs Burrow has been sacked 63 times this season. However that number is only 35 times. There is a huge discrepency here between the amount these teams protect their quarterbacks. The Rams have a solid offensive line and an offense that doesn’t give Stafford a lot of punishment. The Bengals need to have Burrow sling it and they don’t protect him. Negative plays stemming from pass protection is a huge element of this game. Watch for the Rams pass rush. Let’s put them down for five sacks and a forced fumble on Burrow. Let’s also put them down for three offensive holding penalties having trouble against Aaron Donald.
4. Eric Weddle will have a pick six:
This is by far my favorite prediction and it’s easily the most fun of the four. Eric Wedle came out of retirement to give the Rams a boost in the postseason. He had the most tackles for the Rams against the San Francisio 49ers and he’s already become a leader for that defense. It was like he never left the Rams in the first place. Weddle is an insitnctive player who steps up in big games. Nobody is going to be more prepared than Weddle will be.
As a guy whose been a Weddle fan long before he was a Ravens legend, I want nothing more than him to have one of his victory ice cream bowls with all the fixings next to the Lombardi Trophy. If the Rams win, I’d volunteer to bring the ice cream down to the field if it would get me in the stadium. All jokes aside, I’m going all in on Weddle being a difference maker and walking out into the sunset the way his glorious career should end. There’s nothing I want to will to existence in this game more than this pick six for one of the greatest men football ever knew.
And Now a Score: Rams win 31-28
The game will be a back and forth affair. In the end, I think games are won in the trenches. The Rams have a huge advantage at the line of scrimmage and it will lead them to the Lombardi Trophy.