Just the thought of Cincinnati hoisting the Lombardi Trophy it is a bit overwhelming. So as we continue to play the game in our heads every half an hour or so, why not see how others think the game will go?
First, let’s take a look at some of the major media outlets.
Bill Bender, The Sporting News: Burrow has shown the same cool that made him a national champion at LSU. He will make big plays despite the Rams’ furious pass rush. Cincinnati will lead at halftime, but Los Angeles will rally behind Stafford, with Kupp and Beckham catching second-half touchdowns. A late TD by the Bengals will cut the lead to three, but Los Angeles will hold on for its first Super Bowl victory in 22 seasons. Rams 27, Bengals 24
Pete Prisco, CBS: On paper, the stars play for the Rams, so it should be an easy pick. It’s always stars that win, big games, right? Not this time. There is something special about this Bengals team. Before the 2021 season, former Saints coach Sean Payton mentioned to me that there is something to be said about a team getting on a roll at the right time as the formula to win a Super Bowl. Bengals 31, Rams 30
Meanwhile, only two of seven who picked for Sports Illustrated and only one of five experts at the Chicago Sun Times predicted that Cincinnati will win. Four of ESPN’s eleven experts picked the Bengals to win, four picked the Rams, and three abstained from sharing their opinions. Finally, half of the 28 analysts on NFL.com predicted a Bengals victory.
Okay, now let’s get to the takes that really matter, those of the staff at Cincy Jungle:
Jason Marcum: No matter what happens Sunday, this has been a journey we Bengals fans will cherish for the rest of our lives. While this game is less of a challenge than winning at Kansas City, the duo of Aaron Donald and Von Miller may be too much to overcome. They have the potential to wreak havoc in the Bengals’ backfield and make life rather difficult for Joe Burrow. Contrary to most, I think this will be a defensive struggle in which the Rams pull away and the Bengals attempt to come back with a late touchdown but fall short on a two point conversion. Rams 27, Bengals 22
Matt Minich: Bengals fans will be nervous and frustrated as the Bengals come away with nothing but field goals on their early drives, but a turnover late in the 2nd quarter will help them find the end zone. Scoring on their first drive of the 2nd half will give them the lead, and another Rams turnover will help them add to it. The Rams will make a comeback in the 4th quarter, but Evan McPherson’s fifth kick of the day will be the difference. The Rams will have one more chance, but their third turnover of the day will end their Lombardi dreams. Bengals 36, Rams 33
Anthony Cosenza: Almost every national media outlet is giving the Bengals zero chance in this week’s matchup against the Rams. “They won’t be able to stop Aaron Donald,” “Cooper Kupp will eat them alive,” and other narratives are prevailing instead of what the Bengals can do, which is beat almost any opponent, overcome any deficit or a blown lead, and find creative ways to beat very good teams. Bengals 26, Rams 23
John Sheeran: I’m done picking against Joe Burrow in these games. Expecting the worst and hoping for the best is what you do with an incapable quarterback. Burrow has done nothing but proven he’s capable of performing in these moments. Yes, the Rams’ pass rush is fierce and it will get to Burrow often. But is that enough for them to win? It might be if Matthew Stafford has the best game of his career. I don’t think that’s going to happen against Lou Anarumo’s defense. I think points may be hard to come by early and we will see a couple late scores. But I’m picking Burrow to come out on top because he’s given me no other option based on what he’s done thus far. Bengals 23, Rams 17
Drew Garrison: I’ve struggled with this one. The Rams offense is good, but the Bengals can match them. My concern is the fairly lackluster offensive performances in the postseason. The key will be the Bengals slowing the vicious L.A. pass rush. I look for more tight end blocking assistance than we’ve seen all year. The Bengals haven’t lost yet, and I’ve picked them every time. Give me the Bengals to hoist the Lombardi! Bengals 38, Rams 31
Dadio Makdook: I wonder if Joe Burrow knows that the Rams have three excellent pass rushers, two of whom will eventually be in the Hall of Fame. That was sarcasm. Burrow knows, and he has a plan. He went from taking nine sacks against the Tennessee Titans to taking just one and making key plays with his legs against the Kansas City Chiefs. He adjusts. That’s why he’s found so much success. He’ll attack the Rams’ second level of defense—its weakness—until he sees an opportunity down the field. That warm southern California weather will defrost a Cincinnati offense that (technically) hasn’t hit its regular season average yet in the playoffs. Bengals 31, Rams 20
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What will happen in the Super Bowl
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Rams win a close one
Rams in a blowout
Bengals win a close one
Bengals in a blowout