SUPER BOWL LOCK
Rams (-4) @ Bengals, O/U 48.5
We’ve made it. One game left in this wild, unpredictable season. And it’s a doozy. No one could’ve predicted that the Bengals, who throughout the season lost to the likes of the Bears, the Jets and the Browns (twice), would wind up representing the AFC in the big game. And few would’ve predicted that the Rams, who racked up a total of 0 wins in the month of November and who lost the final game of the regular season in devastating fashion, would have figured it out to rattle off 3 consecutive wins to represent the NFC. But here we are.
The Bengals are truly a Cinderella Story, giving hope to every team that you can make a quick turnaround from top pick, and then top 5 pick, to Conference Champion. They’re led by a QB that’s cool, both under pressure and just in general. They have explosive playmakers on offense. They have a solid defense that made Patrick Mahomes look absolutely inept in the 2nd half in the Conference Championship. This team should not have won either of the last two games, but somehow figured out a way. They’ve shown they don’t need to play perfect in order to win, which ultimately is all that matters at this stage.
The Rams assembled a team of superstars, and had a ton of up and downs throughout this season. But when it’s mattered the most, they’re finally meshing together and have looked incredible throughout this playoff run. Matthew Stafford has proven his doubters wrong and needs to be considered one of the truly elite QBs in the game going into next season. Odell looks like he’s back to himself, which all of a sudden has made this receiving duo with him and Kupp seemingly unstoppable. The main difference in this team in this playoff run has been the play of its defense, specifically the defensive line, and even more specifically their defensive line against the run. At times this season they were bullied and gashed on the ground. That has not been the case at all these last 3 games.
I’m going Rams here. While I respect what the Bengals have done, and certainly will never rule out this magical run continuing, it’s so hard to look logically at this matchup and think they’ll win. Quite frankly, it’s difficult making a case that they’ll keep it close. The Rams offense, specifically Stafford, has been very difficult to stop. And if the Bengals dare the Rams to run like they dared the Chiefs to run last week, I fully expect the Rams to have success and stick to it, which the Chiefs did not do. The main issue for the Bengals is their offensive line against the Rams defensive line. It’s such a huge mismatch. They’ll need to establish the ground game to give Burrow an opportunity to push the ball down the field, or their quick passing game has to be absolutely flawless. A Stafford pick-6 could also swing the tide, but he’s been in such a rhythm slinging that ball, I just don’t see that happening. This is his moment to solidify what will become a Hall of Fame career. I’ll lay the points with the Rams.