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Super Bowl LVI is finally approaching, after a season of what we can all agree has been crazy football, we're down to two teams. And if I'm going to be honest, I don't think any of us expected for it to be these two teams competing for that Vince Lombardi Trophy. The Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angelos Rams had two very different paths to make it here, the Rams beat the San Francisco 49ers in a nail-biting game, making it the six straight times the Rams have eliminated the 49ers in an NFC championship game. The big underdogs, the Bengals, faced one of the toughest opponents you can face at this level, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, by overcoming an 18 point deficit to send the Chiefs home and continue their fight for the title of 2021-2022 Super Bowl Champions.
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I don't want to say it was expected for the Rams to get here, but they definitely held better chances than most teams in the NFC, I say this because the Rams this past season have built their team to create this exact result. Trading for star power such as Matthew Stafford and Von Miller might've been enough, but signing Odell Beckham Jr. was the cherry on top. The organization put all of their faith in this team considering they don't have a first-round draft pick until the year 2024, meaning they made all these moves for a championship.
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The Bengals had a completely different race, their quarterback Joe Burrow came off a major knee surgery to rejoin his former teammate, rookie Ja’Marr Chase, the fifth overall pick in the most recent draft. Zac Taylor, head coach of the team had only won six total games his first two seasons with this team, and now to be in this position is unbelievable. It gives hope to Miami Dolphin fans like myself.
Photo From: Cincy Jungle
This leaves us here with an unexpected matchup, one team who was built for a championship and another who keeps going against all odds.
Now, how do these two teams match up?
Rams head coach Sean McVay and Bengals head coach Zac Taylor meet again but in a different way. It's suitable to say that these two guys are very familiar with each other, Zac Taylor coached under Sean McVay in 2017-18 before taking the job with Cincinnati, so although we should expect a high level of competitive nature, it is known that the same level of respect will be showcased.
The biggest edge the Rams have over the Bengals is how they pass rush against the Bengals' offense. The Rams had 50 sacks in the regular season, ranking third among every team in the league, where the Bengals ALLOWED 55, being the third-worst in the league. The Tennessee Titans sacked Joe Burrow a record-breaking (in the postseason) amount of times in the AFC Divisional Round.
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Both teams were also introduced to big injuries in their conference championship games. The Rams tight end, Tyler Higbee, suffered a ligament sprain making his ability to play in the Super Bowl unknown as of right now. Higbee was averaging about five targets per game in his last six matches leading up to his injury. CJ Uzomah, Bengals tight end sprained his MCL in the AFC championship after acquiring 13 passes, and 135 yards in the first two playoff contests. Both coaches are being very positive about the situations, and are aiming to have their players back and ready to go by February 13.
Photo From: Cincy Jungle
Now, I am going to list a couple of factors that can determine the biggest game of the season.
First off, the Bengals defense needs to show up, show up the way they did in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs last weekend. Burrow is clearly the headliner of this team, but as a spectator, we are seeing this defense improve every single week.
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Matthew Stafford needs to keep silencing his critics by playing the way he can. With the Rams making a risky blockbuster trade, he's proved, especially in these playoffs, that he was the missing puzzle piece. After a tremendous playoff run, Stafford will have to play harder than ever against this Cincinnati defense.
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Jalen Ramsey needs to contain Ja’Maar Chase, this matchup is going to be the most exciting matchup of this game. The way Aaron Donald is extremely significant to Ram’s front end of the defense, Ramsey is just as important to the back end. It's safe to say he is one of the best, if not the best cornerback's in the league, which in this case means a lot as he will be matching up against one of the best receivers in the league. The fact that the Rams have one player who can single-handedly cover a star receiver is amazing as it is.
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Joe Burrow needs to keep playing like he's been playing, he sets the tone for this team, and he's been doing a great job at it. After coming off a big win against the Chiefs, the comparison to Joe Montana continued to grow, can he complete the comparison by finishing this season with a championship? Clearly, there were a lot of elements that helps the Bengals get here, but Joe Burrow is the key factor that contributed to their season's success.
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Obviously, a lot goes into winning a Superbowl, from the coaches, to every single player, to the atmosphere, they all play such a key role for every team. With the Rams having home advantage, and a better structure for a championship, I predict the LA Rams will win the 2021-2022 Super Bowl. My score prediction is 27-24 Rams. With this being said, I will not at all be shocked if the Bengals take this game, after an incredible season, they just keep proving why they belong. Both of these teams are very likable, some are calling this “America’s Super Bowl,” meaning everyone is pleased with this matchup. I expect viewership to go through the roof, gaining millions more than last year.
Now, we have to wait.