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Bengals vs Rams: 4 bold predictions for Super Bowl LVI

Matt Johnson
Bengals vs Rams, Super Bowl LVI predictions
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Super Bowl LVI is here, months of anticipation and hundreds of games all lead to this. The Cincinnati Bengals vs Los Angeles Rams matchup isn’t what anyone ever expected. But a duel between Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford will make this an enjoyable clash at SoFi Stadium.

There is NFL history at stake here. The Bengals vs Rams Super Bowl clash will either deliver a franchise winning its first Super Bowl ever or a team sweeping the entire NFL postseason without ever leaving their home. It’s also a legacy game, with the winning quarterback immediately entering his name into early Hall of Fame consideration.

Let’s dive into everything you need to know about Super Bowl LVI along with our bold predictions for the big game.

Related: Stream the Super Bowl on Peacock TV for $4.99

Bengals vs Rams odds, game information and line

DateTime (EST)TV Info
Sunday, January 306:30 PMNBC
  • Bengals vs Rams point spread: Rams -3.5
  • Over/Under: 49.5 points
  • Money line: Bengals +155; Rams -190

With all the game information set, let’s dive into our matchup analysis and Bengals vs Rams predictions.

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Aaron Donald ties a Super Bowl record

NFL: NFC Championship-San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Donald is the best defensive player in the NFL and will go down as one of the best defensive linemen ever. Often, the All-Pro defensive tackle’s dominance isn’t always as evident on the stat sheet. But he is a huge reason the Rams delivered a 10-point comeback in the NFC Championship Game, recording three quarterback pressures in the fourth quarter.

Cincinnati should be alarmed about how it will fare in the trenches. While he can line up anywhere, Los Angeles will likely want him to attack the Bengals’ right guard. The right side of Cincinnati’s offensive line is a collapsible wall. In the AFC Championship Game, the Bengals alternated between Jackson Carman and Hakeem Adeniji.

No matter who starts in the Super Bowl, they are likely going to get pushed around, knocked over and at times thrown to the ground. Carman (53.0 PFF pass-blocking grade) and Adeniji (23 pressures allowed in 350 pass-block snaps) are simply overmatched. While Burrow is incredible at navigating pressure and did an excellent job getting the football out quickly against the Chiefs, getting away from Donald is much harder. It would take an MVP-caliber effort, but we could see a three-sack game from Donald.

Joe Burrow outplays Matthew Stafford

NFL: AFC Championship-Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
Albert Cesare-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Burrow is wired differently than almost any NFL quarterback. Quite frankly, the closest comparison that could be made regarding his composure under pressure and ability to thrive in clutch moments is Tom Brady. It sounds preposterous, but the second-year quarterback boasts a resume of dominating in the playoffs.

In the College Football Playoffs with the LSU Tigers, Burrow combined for 956 passing yards, a 204.4 QB rating, 79 rushing yards and 14 total touchdowns in two games. It came in his second season at LSU and he dominated like no other to help make the Tigers national champions. Fast forward to his second season with the Bengals, Burrow is undefeated in his first three playoff games and always responds in big moments.

The Tennessee Titans racked up 13 quarterback hits and 9 sacks on Burrow and he still put 238 yards and a 93.1 QB rating on them in a win. Against the Chiefs, Burrow trailed by 18 points late in the second quarter and led this team to a dramatic comeback all while slipping out of sacks.

Los Angeles is likely going to get plenty of hits on Burrow, taking advantage of Cincinnati’s porous offensive line. But the body blows and the bright lights seemingly make him better. When he is given time to throw, the Bengals’ quarterback will deliver strikes to Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Ja’Marr Chase. In the end, win or lose, his performance will stand out more than Stafford in a fun Bengals vs Rams clash.

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Sean McVay, Zac Taylor both make big mistakes

NFL: International Series-Cincinnati Bengals at Los Angeles Rams
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Both games on NFL Championship Sunday delivered excellent performances by the players. But neither Sean McVay nor Zac Taylor delivered championship-caliber coaching. It didn’t matter, thanks to some key momentum swings, but the former colleagues could also run into issues during the Super Bowl.

For McVay, we’ve seen a series of odd decisions throughout the playoffs. In the Divisional Round clash against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Rams’ coach became far too conservative. Leading 27-3 late in the third quarter, McVay took the football out of Stafford’s hands and tried running out the clock early against an elite run defense. He also called a bizarre timeout that nearly proved very costly. In the NFC title bout, the Rams’ head coach wasted timeouts in the second half and inexplicably threw his last away with 10 minutes left on a terrible challenge.

Taylor, McVay’s former assistant coach, didn’t fare any better in the AFC title game. Bad play-calling constantly put the Bengals’ offense into 3rd-and-long situations, requiring Burrow to bail them out. Whereas McVay’s play-calling gets conservative late in games, Taylor used that entire approach for nearly three quarters.

Coaching mistakes in the playoffs can be devastating if they are made at the worst time. Both teams escaped with victories in their conference title matchups, but luck eventually runs out. Don’t be surprised if those same warts we’ve seen throughout the playoffs prevent one of these coaches from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

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Bengals vs Rams prediction: Bengals 27, Rams 24

NFL: AFC Championship-Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams are the more talented and experienced team. They also don’t have to travel, allowing them to stay in Los Angeles and focus entirely on preparing for the biggest game of their lives. We know Aaron Donald will dominate in the trenches and the Rams built this team to win the Super Bowl.

But the Bengals are just different. Call it destiny, confidence or a one-year fluke, it’s really the Joe Burrow effect. The 25-year-old quarterback somehow always finds a way to remain calm under the most intense pressure, leading his team on big drives at the most crucial moment. He took punches from the No. 1 seed and knocked them down. As a huge underdog to the Kansas City Chiefs, he outdueled Patrick Mahomes at Arrowhead Stadium.

Playing in Los Angeles, with Cincinnati fans potentially packing SoFi Stadium, there’s no reason to believe he won’t do it again. Burrow did this in college and at this point we’re no longer betting against him repeating the feat in the NFL, bringing the Lombardi Trophy home to Cincinnati for the first time.