By Jake Geiger, Staff Writer
The Cincinnati Bengals shocked the NFL landscape as they have reached their first Super Bowl since 1989.
All three playoff games came down to the final seconds. The Bengals defeated the Las Vegas Raiders with a game-winning interception at home in addition to two game-winning field goals against the Titans and the Chiefs on the road by rookie phenom Evan McPherson.
They now face the LA Rams at SoFi stadium in Los Angeles.
The Rams came into the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the NFC. Their road to the Super Bowl has also been quite the fairy tale.
The Rams defeated the Arizona Cardinals at home, won on the road in Tampa Bay in what would be Tom Brady’s last game ever and defeated their division rival San Francisco 49ers at home 20-17 after losing to them twice in the regular season.
This Super Bowl features quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford, who are popular with the public. The Bengals’ keys to victory are doable, and that is why I think they will defeat the Rams at SoFi stadium.
The Rams have an excellent pass rush with All-Pros Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd and Von Miller. The biggest weakness this season for the Bengals has been their offensive line and protecting Burrow. They haven’t done much better in the playoffs, as they allowed nine sacks against the Tennessee Titans, but they did limit the pressure against the Chiefs. Their toughest test awaits in Los Angeles. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey is also a top player in the league and will be the biggest challenge rookie wideout Ja’Marr Chase has faced.
Ramsey is aggressive at the line of scrimmage and likes to be physical, so it will be interesting to see how Chase handles his physicality. If the Bengals can limit the rampant LA pressure, Burrow will be just fine finding his weapons in Chase, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins and running back Joe Mixon.
Another key for the Bengals is limiting All-Pro receiver Cooper Kupp, who led the league in receiving yards this season. Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie, Eli Apple and Mike Hilton all face this daunting test. I think Hilton may see the most of Kupp since he is in the slot often.
The Rams also added wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and he has flourished in his time with LA. Forcing pressure at the offensive line will be huge for the Bengals’ success, and defensive ends Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard have been successful this entire season at doing that.
I predict a 30-23 win for the Cincinnati Bengals over the LA Rams. I think Burrow plays a near-perfect game, and the defense gets enough stops to seal the victory.
I also think they can capitalize on Stafford’s erratic play, as he tends to make a few mistakes in games and forces some throws.
Burrow will win the MVP for the game and the Bengals’ future will be extremely bright with Burrow, Chase and their weapons on both sides of the ball.