Coming up with a Super Bowl LVI prediction was a little tricky this year.  I hate to simply wing it and prefer to fall on stats of some kind.  Who will hoist the Lombardi Trophy?  Will it be the Cincinnati Bengals or the Los Angeles Rams?

For this year’s big game, the QB matchup is intriguing: Joe Burrow vs Matthew Stafford.  One could point to a lethal Rams defense led by Aaron Donald and a Cincinnati line that has failed to consistently protect Burrow.  Yet, the Bengals are here.  They made it to the big dance anyway.

The Super Bowl typically features two very sound football teams with more strengths than weaknesses.  So, to come up with a prediction, it felt right to open with some regular season stat crunching:

Stat Crunch: The Breakfast of Champions?

During the regular season, here is where the Rams and Bengals ranked in a number of key categories:

Sacks For

  • Rams – 50
  • Bengals – 42

Total Offense

  • Rams – 9th – 372.1 ypg
  • Bengals – 13th – 361.5 ypg

Total Offense Passing

  • Rams – 5th – 273.1 ypg
  • Bengals – 7th – 259.0 ypg

Sacks Against

  • Bengals – 55
  • Rams – 31

Turnover Margin

  • Rams +2
  • Bengals 0

Total Offense Rushing

  • Bengals – 23rd – 102.5 ypg
  • Rams – 25th – 99.0 ypg

Total Defense

  • Rams – 17th – 344.9 ypg
  • Bengals – 18th – 350.8 ypg

Points Allowed per Game

  • Rams – 15th – 21.9 ppg
  • Bengals – 17th – 22.1 ppg

Total Defense Passing

  • Rams – 22nd – 241.7 ypg
  • Bengals – 26th – 248.4 ypg

Total Defense Rushing

  • Bengals – 5th – 102.5 ypg
  • Rams – 6th – 103.2 ypg

Sad Stats Say So Much?

Yes, I realize that a check of generic regular season stats will not uncover the real truth.  It comes down to individual performances, game plan, momentum, and much more.  Still, if you check the ranks above, these two teams were close in almost all major categories.

The biggest gap remains with sacks and defensive pressure.  With Super Bowls, it often comes down to quarterback play.  Let’s bullet out those two areas a bit more:

Joe Burrow vs Top Defenses

Here are a few general observations regarding Burrow and the Bengals facing top defenses:

  • The Steelers led the NFL with 55 sacks this year, but only had two against the Bengals in two games.  Cincinnati swept the regular season series by a combined score of 65-20.  That’s further proof that general stats only go so far.  Perhaps Pittsburgh’s offense that ranked in the bottom ten often led the defense to being on the field too long against Cincy’s potent offense.
  • Facing other top defenses, it wasn’t always as easy.  For example, the Bengals gave up five sacks in games against the 49ers and Browns.  Both teams ended the regular season in the top five in yards allowed.  Also, both games resulted in Cincinnati losses.

Matthew Stafford vs Top Teams

Stafford always had the talent.  It simply didn’t translate to wins in Detroit.  The NFL is a team game first, but having a franchise QB is more important than ever.  With the Lombardi Trophy within reach, can Stafford deliver on the big stage?  Here are a few general observations tied to his season:

  • Including postseason, Stafford posted a total of nine 300-yard passing games this season
  • He had just five games where he threw multiple interceptions
  • Stafford and the Rams had TEN total games against teams that ranked in the top ten in total offense during the regular season.  That included multiple rematch situations, with two games against the Bucs and three against both the Cardinals and 49ers.
  • In the aforementioned ten games, the Rams were 6-4 and Stafford threw for 24 touchdowns (with 9 interceptions).  If you isolate just the games against the Packers, Cardinals, and Buccaneers, Stafford threw for 16 touchdowns with just 2 INT’s.

KP’s Super Bowl LVI Prediction (ATS and O/U)

Cincinnati Bengals vs LOS ANGELES RAMS (-4): OVER 48.5

The Bengals allowed 21 sacks over the last five games of the regular season.  They allowed nine against the Titans during the playoffs.  Cincinnati only allowed three in its two other playoff games versus the Raiders and Chiefs.  The Bengals are 6-2 in those games, including wins in its last six.  Burrow and the Bengals will need a monster effort to hold off Aaron Donald and the L.A. defense.  Earlier games against the San Francisco and Cleveland defensive fronts are concerning.

Both teams have the talent offensively to score in bunches.  I’m curious to see how the Ja’Marr Chase vs Jalen Ramsey matchup pans out.  Each player is certain to post big wins over the course of the game.  Outside of this matchup, there are so many more big names, including Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr., Tee Higgins, Cam Akers, and Joe Mixon.

Matthew Stafford has come up big when going toe-to-toe with high-flying offenses.  Joe Burrow has managed to post clutch performance after clutch performance, despite taking three or more sacks in twelve games this season.

Now it’s time for the way-too-detailed and sure to be wrong Super Bowl prediction.

Fire it up, KP!

I see both teams moving the ball throughout the game, but the Rams holding Cincinnati to field goals in a few key possessions during the first half.  McPherson won’t miss those.  Aaron Donald will have a monster game.  The Rams will open up a double-digit lead, but the Bengals will claw their way back in the second half, as they have on multiple occasions.  

A fairly late fourth quarter touchdown (and missed two-point conversion) will leave the Bengals needing a final drive TD to win.  That’s only after the Rams punt after eating more time off the clock.  Cincinnati’s final drive will fizzle out thanks again to the L.A. defensive front.

The argument will be for Aaron Donald to be the MVP, but Matthew Stafford will win it.  The Rams cover.  Give me the over in what hopefully will be a highly entertaining Super Bowl.

KP’s Prediction: Rams 28, Bengals 23

Hey, why not try to be really specific? 

It’s the Super Bowl.  It’s the last game of the season.  The SportsChump and I won’t be doing this again until next season.  Speaking of which:

SportsChump’s Super Bowl LVI

As many of you know, the SportsChump and I have been doing this all season long.  We appreciate you stopping by and talking football with us this season.  Check out the SportsChump’s prediction and if you’re a part of his free contest for the playoffs, he includes the latest standings there, too.  For what’s worth, he also likes the Rams.

THE WIFE Predicts the Super Bowl

To go on record and stick with the site theme, I asked THE WIFE to provide her score prediction.  Only, she didn’t want to write up reasoning.  Shocker.  She does love cats, so… here’s her call for the big game:

THE WIFE’s Prediction: Bengals 24, Rams 17

That’s it for the 2022 football season.  It has been fun.

As always, thank you for visiting and supporting The Wife Hates Sports!

Odds taken via DraftKings Sportsbook | Image Credit: NFL Instagram

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