The Super Bowl 56 line opened with the L.A. Rams as a 4-point favorite over the Cincinnati Bengals at SuperBook USA. The line has climbed to [superbowl_2022_game side=”away” bet_type=”spreads” exchange=”betmgm”] at most sportsbooks across the industry including BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook. PointsBet was still dealing Rams -4 (-115) as of Thursday morning. The total is a consensus [superbowl_2022_game side=”away” bet_type=”totals” exchange=”betmgm”]. A case can be made for both the Rams and Bengals in this game. Let’s examine the strengths and weaknesses of both teams ahead of Super Bowl 56.
NFL · Sun (2/13) @ 6:34pm ET
|Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio|
Why The Rams Will Win Super Bowl 56
No. 4 seed L.A. Rams (15-5, 10-10 ATS)
The Rams are a good bet to win their first Super Bowl since 1999, when QB Kurt Warner and coach Dick Vermeil headlined The Greatest Show on Turf.
For the second straight season, the NFC representative will play for the title in its home stadium. Tampa Bay prevailed last season against Kansas City 31-9 despite attendance being limited because of COVID restrictions. There are no such limits this year, and little concern that Who Dey Nation will take over SoFi Stadium in the same fashion that 49ers fans did in the past month.
L.A. head coach Sean McVay has Super Bowl experience as a sideline boss. Three seasons ago, he guided the Rams to the conference title and an eventual 13-3 loss in the Super Bowl to veteran New England coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady. On the other hand, third-year Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor is in his first playoffs after going 6-25-1 the previous two regular seasons. In Super Bowl matchups between a head coach with title-game experience vs. one without, the experienced guy’s team has gone 15-12 as a money-line choice. Not great, but good enough.
The Rams have a superior pass defense, one of only four teams this year that had more interceptions (19) than TDs allowed (17) in the regular season. The defense is headed by three-time All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey. By contrast, the Bengals’ numbers were 13/26 while they brought in a host of new cornerbacks. L.A. also had the league’s fifth-best defensive passer rating while Cincinnati’s was 18th.
The Rams’ defense finished third in the league this season with 50 sacks, led by a team-high 12.5 by seven-time All-Pro DE Aaron Donald. He will be going against Cincinnati QB Joe Burrow, who went down a league-high 51 times in his 16 regular-season games and then a preposterous nine more in the divisional round at Tennessee.
The Rams also have the benefit of having LB Von Miller — and his experience from the Broncos’ championship team six years ago.
Only Tom Brady threw more TD passes this regular season than L.A.’s Matthew Stafford, with 41, and he’s added six more in the postseaon. It helps that he gets to throw to WR Cooper Kupp, who’s had no let-up in the postseason after leading the league during the season in catches, receiving yards and receiving TDs. Last week, he had 11 receptions for 142 yards and two TDs vs. San Francisco. Make that 12 catches if you count the flying leap his wife took into his arms during the postgame celebration.
Why The Bengals Will Win Super Bowl 56
No. 4 Cincinnati Bengals (13-7, 13-7 ATS)
The Bengals have the look of a Super Bowl champion. Cincy’s pass protection has improved, based on last week anyway, when QB Joe Burrow was sacked only once on 39 drop-backs in a 27-24 overtime win at K.C.. That sack number was a vast improvement over the nine times he went down vs. Tennessee a week earlier despite throwing only 37 passes.
The Bengals spent virtually the entire afternoon in comeback mode, too. They completed the biggest rally for a visiting team in a victory this season, overcoming a 21-3 halftime deficit at noisy Arrowhead Stadium. The second biggest home collapse in a defeat this season? In Week 18, when the Rams blew a 17-0 lead to San Francisco at SoFi.
Third-year Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor, in his first year in the playoffs, will indeed be going against a coach (Sean McVay) who’s been to the big game before. That counts for something, but it shouldn’t automatically crush the Bengals’ hopes. Last week, Taylor got the best of K.C.’s Andy Reid, who was in his ninth conference title game. Four years ago, for instance, Philly’s Doug Pederson, also in his first tournament, beat Bill Belichick and the Patriots, 41-33, using backup QB Nick Foles.
Bengals DT Trey Hendrickson, who was acquired from New Orleans in the offseason after getting 13.5 sacks last season, got 14 this year to boost a unit that totaled a league-low 17 last year. In 2021, Cincinnati had 42 QB sacks, plus eight more in the postseason, with four coming last week against Patrick Mahomes. Hendrickson, who has the league’s highest pressure rate among QB harassers, could cause loads of trouble for Rams QB Matthew Stafford. Stafford has made some foolish throws while trying to avoid the rush, including a league-high four pick-sixes. Not to mention the up-for-grabs throw late last week that a 49ers DB bungled.
In the Cincinnati secondary, the safety tandem of Von Bell and Jessie Bates is top notch and particularly tough against the run.
As for turnovers, the Bengals are protecting the ball, with only two in their past seven games. In that span, the Rams had 14.
On offense, bulldozing RB Joe Mixon, who was the league’s third-leading rusher this season with 1,205 yards, is tops among playoff ball carriers with 190. His punishing run late last week against K.C. led to the winning FG. Rams rushers, meanwhile, have been largely inefficient in the postseason, with a norm of 2.9 a carry. Plus, top RB Cam Akers is nursing a shoulder injury.
And last but not least, WR Ja’Marr Chase has been a rookie sensation (1,455 receiving yards), with a league-best five TD catches of 50-plus yards. If the Bengals do win the title, it would be the first time a championship team had a 1,000-yard rusher and receiver in five seasons.
Extra fun fact: The Bengals are the only team to go from worst in 2020 to first this season. From 1987-1991, though, they set a worst-to-first record by going from worst to first to worst to first to worst. That included the 1988 AFC title season.
Also read: Super Bowl odds history | Printable Or Online Super Bowl Squares | Cooper Kupp Super Bowl Props: Saving His Best For Last? | Super Bowl Point Spreads: Alternate Betting Lines For Bengals Vs. Rams