We made it ladies and gentlemen. The entire NFL season led us directly to here. The Super Bowl is finally upon us. It’s always a bittersweet time for me as a football fan. It’s bitter because it once again marks the end of another NFL season, and signals the beginning of a six month hibernation from my football viewing. It is sweet though, because it’s the largest game of the year, and one of the largest entertainment events of the year as well.
The Super Bowl has essentially become a holiday in the United States. Even non-football fans gather to celebrate this joyous occasion. It’s a thing of beauty to be sure. Better yet, we actually have what looks like a pretty solid game on our hands.
For those football fans clamoring for “something new,” aka something without Belichick or Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes involved, you’ve gotten your wish. The Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals is an unexpected delight of a Super Bowl showdown.
Yes, the Rams were just in the Super Bowl back in 2018. That team, however, looks a lot different compared to this year’s iteration. Names like Matthew Stafford, Von Miller, Odell Beckham Jr., Leonard Floyd, and Jalen Ramsey are now featured players on this squad. That just goes to show how much a team can change in just three years. Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, and Marcus Peters were the big names during that 2018 run. All of those players I just mentioned are all gone.
So no, the Rams are not completely unfamiliar with the Super Bowl. This is the team’s fourth Super Bowl appearance since 1999 afterall. They are however just 1-2 in the previous three games, with both losses coming at the hands of Belichick and Brady in New England. Needless to say, they are happy to see those guys are out.
The Bengals on the otherhand are in very unfamiliar territory, which I believe is a big reason for why America seems to be backing them heavily. For Cincinnati, this is just their 3rd Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. It’s also their first appearance in the big game since 1988. So it’s no secret this has been a long time coming for Bengals fans. The last 30+ years hasn’t exactly been the most kind to them, which makes this run all the more sweeter.
Nobody, including myself, could have seen this matchup coming. Especially on the Bengals’ side of the things. A team still early in their rebuilding stage making a DEEP playoff run is not a usual occurrence. The league was wide open this year, you heard me and many others reference that point countless time. This matchup proves that point was true.
In honor of the big game, I thought I’d give you all an in depth breakdown of what to expect. From what to bet (including fun props), the halftime show, and my analysis on the game itself, here’s my full breakdown and preview of Super Bowl 56.
Home Field Advantage Won’t Matter Much
Last year was the first time in the history of the Super Bowl that the host city’s team actually won the Super Bowl. It once again proved the narrative that no narrative or record is safe if Tom Brady is involved. This year, the Rams have the opportunity to be the 2nd team in Super Bowl history to accomplish the same feat.
Super Bowl 56 will be played at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, California. It’s not surprising to see the big game being played here so soon either. Along with Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, home to the Raiders, this is the newest and most technologically advanced stadium in the NFL. The league wanted to showcase just how incredible this new stadium is, as well as reward the Rams for its construction.
For most teams hosting the Super Bowl, you’d expect to have a massive home field advantage. In some ways, the Rams do have some advantage. They obviously get to sleep in their own homes in their own beds. They have their home lockerroom. Their practice facilities and routines will remain the same. The same cannot be said for the visiting Bengals.
However, from a fan perspective, the impact is minimal. It’s no secret that the Rams and Chargers have not had the largest fan bases since their return to LA. If you need any proof, just look to two weeks ago at the NFC Championship game. The most important game of the Rams’ season, at home, and the stadium was dominated by a sea of red. The San Francisco 49ers’ fans filled the majority of the stadium.
The reality is the Rams left the majority of their hard core fans back in St. Louis when they relocated. They have their supporters, but not as many as you’d expect for a team who is now in their 2nd Super Bowl appearance since moving back to LA.
So although the game may be in Rams’ territory, don’t expect a huge advantage from the crowd. I’m expecting a good amount of neutral fans and Bengals fans to be present.
Joe Burrow Will Continue To Be America’s Sweetheart
Joe Burrow, Joe Sheisty, Joe Brrr, Joe Burreaux, Joe Cool. Whatever you want to call him, it’s not secret that Burrow’s reputation has soared during this playoff run. To be fair he was always extremely likeable and a fan favorite, but this run with the Bengals took him to a whole other level.
Whether it be his play on the field, his fashion choices, or simply his demeanor and personality, Joe Burrow is just easy to root for. I don’t think it’s crazy to say that right now he is America’s favorite QB. Most people I have spoken too all say they are gunning for Cincinnati in the Super Bowl, mainly for Burrow.
I’m expecting the Bengals’ bandwagon will be quite full come game time. That’s just the Joe Burrow affect I guess.
Rams Front Seven Will Feast
There is no larger mismatch in this game than the battle between the Rams’ front seven and the Bengals’ offensive line. It’s no mystery that Cincy’s pass protection has been, well, bad. Burrow was the most sacked quarterback in the league this year, and that was before he was sacked 12 times during the current playoff run. 9 of those sacks came against Tennessee alone. He’s been constantly under pressure all year, and that won’t change in LA.
Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd, and Von Miller will make life hell for Burrow. Now, I’m sure Bengals’ coach Zac Taylor will adjust for this. Expect to see Burrow throw a lot of quick passes. If you get the ball out quick before the pressure even comes home, than it’s fine. That of course limits your offense a bit, but against this defense it’s probably Cincy’s best bet.
I’m predicting Burrow will be sacked at least three times, and expect him to be under pressure virtually all day.
Matthew Stafford Will Finally Have His Moment
If any other QB from the AFC had gotten here instead, it would be Stafford who would be getting all of the attention and all of the love from fans. Unfortunately, he got swept up in Burrow mania.
Stafford has a truly likable story in his own right. The man suffered for over a decade in Detroit, hindered by bad management, coaching, teammates, practically everything was terrible. Even when he had good things, like Calvin Johnson for example, it didn’t last very long and always ended in misery.
Yet, Stafford remained loyal to Detroit year in and year out. You really got the feeling he wanted to stick it out and win there. Eventually though he came to his senses and realized he’s in Detroit and that’s just not going to happen.
It’s for that reason that no one blamed him for forcing his way out. He did his time with the Lions. He gave it his all. His reward for a lifetime of suffering in the Motor City was a shiny new membership to the Los Angeles Rams.
Lions fans are obviously happy and rooting for Stafford, but you got to imagine they feel pretty annoyed. The first time in his career Stafford is surrounded by a good team and coaching, and he goes to a Super Bowl. Makes you wonder what could have been if the Lions were halfway competent.
This is the thing Stafford has fought his whole career for. He’s quietly been one of the best QB’s of the last 10 years. Like Andy Dufrane in The Shawshank Redemption, he had to crawl through 500 yards of crap to get to freedom. That’s Matthew Stafford in a nutshell.
Expect Stafford to have himself a game, one where he let’s the league know that he is for sure one of the best there is at his position. Which leads me to my next point…
The Rams Will Be Crowned Champions
Listen, I want the Bengals to win. I really do. They’re hard to root against. The city of Cincinnati doesn’t have a Lombardi trophy to their name, and I always like to see smaller market teams or teams without hardware finally get their due.
Unfortunately here, I just believe the Rams are truly the better team. The matchup well with the Bengals, and carry with them experience that this young Bengals squad just doesn’t possess. There’s nothing wrong with that either, the Bengals are early. They were never supposed to make it this far at this point of their rebuild. Yet here they are.
The Rams went all in on this team. It’s the very reason why the Rams don’t have a first round pick until the year 2049. They have a lot of guys on this roster who have either:
A) Won a Super Bowl
B) Played in a Super Bowl
C) Never played in a Super Bowl but have been around the league for quite a while
Experience does matter, especially in a spot as big as this one. The Rams are loaded on both sides of the ball, and I just think it’s too much for this young Bengals team to overcome. The defense will force Cincy’s offense into uncomfortable situations, and the Rams offense has enough firepower on the ground and through the air that will keep the Bengals’ defense on their heels. The Rams are stacked, plain and simple.
For the first time since ’99, expect the Rams to win the title. As much as people want to see Burrow win, you can’t lie and say you wouldn’t be happy for Stafford to finally win one. Speaking of Stafford….
Stafford Will Be Named Super Bowl MVP
It’s basic I know, but when it comes to MVP awards in this league, QBs are usually keen to win it. Not to say Stafford won’t be deserving of it, but he has an edge based on his position. 10 of the last 15 Super Bowl MVPs were quarterbacks. It’s just how this thing goes.
The odds for him to win the Super Bowl MVP are currently +140, this also being due to the Rams being -190 ML favorites. The value may not seem like the best, but it’s the best bet to make there for sure, since I’m pretty confident he will win it.
Halftime Show Will Be Amazing
I think your enjoyment of this halftime show will really depend on what age group you fall under. If you’re in that 24-35 age range I think you’ll love it. It’s in many ways a nostalgia filled show, featuring some of largest rap and hip hop artists from the late 1990’s/early 2000’s. Therefore to really enjoy it or get the expected impact, you have to have grown up around that time frame.
I think they’ll put on a great show in general, but those who will really love it are those who grew up on. People under the age of 21 probably don’t even know who Dr. Dre is. That’s crazy.
I always used to listen to Eminem growing up, and I always love me some Mary J. Blige. Kendrick Lamar I think is being forgotten in this group, but he is one of the best rappers of the 2010’s. I know I’m not maybe qualified to speak on music, I’m a sports guy afterall. Yet after last year’s….let’s say less than stellar performance by The Weeknd, I’m ready to see some OG’s take the stage.
Another Year of Dissapointing Commercials
I don’t know if it’s a growing up thing, but every year I feel as though there are less and less memorable Super Bowl commercials. They are one if the most recognizable aspects of the day, some people watch just for the commercials.
I just feel like along the way, we lost our way you know? Some really crazy commercials popped off and everyone took that as “the crazier and more bizarre the better.” The result has been weird commercial after weird commercial that is just instantly forgettable.
I hope I’m wrong here, but I’m ready to be dissapointed yet again. Here’s to hopefully some good commercials for Super Bowl 56.
This is what probably most of you have been waiting for. No better way to close the blog out than to tell you what to throw your money on in the Super Bowl. This for me at least marks the end of my big “gambling season.” I dabble in other sports, but football is where I like to put most of my plays.
In many ways the Super Bowl is a celebration of betting, the end of another year of the highest highs and the lowest lows. There is SO much to bet on, and I know people want to go crazy with props, so I’ll just list off everything that I recommend betting.
- Gatorade Color Blue (+250)
- Opening Coin Toss Tails (-105)
- Matthew Stafford Super Bowl MVP (+140l
- Rams ML (-190)
- Rams -4 (-110)
- Joe Burrow Over 36.5 Passing Attempts (-120) 🔒
- Odell Beckham Jr. anytime touchdown scorer (+120) 🔒
I might release some more as we get closer to the game, so make sure to follow me on Twitter @AKilimos for any updates. That officially concludes my Super Bowl preview. Enjoy the game everyone!
Photo by Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports