Super Bowl Preview


Nicholas Johnson

It’s finally time for the conclusion to the 2021-2022 NFL season which has been full of surprises and upsets, none bigger than the Super Bowl 56 matchup being the Los Angeles Rams taking on the Cincinnati Bengals. With the biggest stage in the NFL set for kickoff on February 13, 2022, it’s time to break down this surprising Super Bowl matchup.


Our hometown Cincinnati Bengals have definitely been riding high off of a huge wave of support from local fans, both fairweather and diehard alike. After their huge Super Wild Card Weekend win at home over the Las Vegas Raiders 26-19, which ended a 31-year long playoff win drought, the Bengals then took to the road to shock the world and knock off the one-seeded Titans 19-16 after a “Shooter McPherson” game-winning field goal. From there, the Bengals would travel to Arrowhead in Kansas City in a rematch against the Chiefs. The Bengals won in the January 2nd meeting; however, they would have to knock them off on the road in the AFC Championship game. The game started as rough as it possibly could have for the Bengals; the offense was sloppy and couldn’t make much progress; the defense couldn’t stop the run game or contain Mahomes to keep him from extending plays; and they started building a deficit that would eventually put them down 18 points with a score of 21-3. Then all of a sudden, the tides seemed to turn, and before half Samaje Perine was able to break off a significant amount of RAC yards on a 41-yard touchdown pass on what had originally appeared to be a broken play. Then, the Bengals were able to stop the Chiefs on the goal-line after Chiefs HC Andy Reid tried to get a bit too greedy before the half.


Down 21-10 at half, there was a strong sense of deja-vu, because on January 2nd the Bengals were down 11 points at the half and mounted an incredible comeback, where the defense held the Chiefs high-flying offense to only 3 points in the second half. What followed the Bengals lackluster performance in the first half of the AFC Championship game, was an incredible comeback where the Bengals defense was able to hold the Chiefs high-flying offense to 3 points in the second half. You can’t make this stuff up. Then, for the second week in a row McPherson was able to send one sailing through the uprights to end the game with a Bengals win.


As for the Los Angeles Rams, they are coming off of a barn burner in the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. After a scoreless first quarter, the Niners would jump out in front in the second quarter after responding to a 16-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp with a 44-yard touchdown pass of their own, followed by a 38 yard Robbie Gould field goal. After heading into the locker room with a score of 10-7 the Niners would add to their lead in the third quarter with yet another touchdown to make their lead 17-7. Now with a fire lit under their behinds, the Rams would put the pedal to the metal in the fourth quarter putting up 13 unanswered points on two field goals and yet another Stafford to Kupp touchdown pass.


One of the big keys to this game for Cincinnati is continuing to play the best defense that the league has seen from them all year. Ever since the Bengals played the Chiefs the first time around, the defense has constantly come up clutch when they are needed the most. The Rams have an incredible high-flying offense led by Matt Stafford and Cooper Kupp, and when they get rolling there is really no slowing them down. One of the big factors that this game should come down to is who turns over the ball. Each playoff game for Cincinnati this year has come down to an interception on the final drive of the game and against a team like LA, turnovers are going to stay a big determining factor.


As for the Bengals offense, one of the things that has been pretty frustrating to watch this season is who gets targeted through the air. Ja’Marr Chase is definitely an incredible receiver who does an insane job of making the most of his targets after the catch, but what the Bengals can’t afford is to force the ball to Chase every chance they get. The Bengals offense is stacked with talent. You have Joe Mixon who isn’t only a great running back, but he is also a great passing target. You have Tee Higgins who has been silently having an incredible first two seasons in the league after being taken 33rd overall in the 2020 NFL draft. There is Tyler Boyd who has been one of the better young receivers in the league for a long time now. And last, but certainly not least, Cj Uzomah at tight end has been not only a leader on the field with his amazing talent, but he has also been a leader all year in the locker room, especially with the “why not us?” campaign he’s led throughout the playoffs. Those names are only the big names on the Bengals offense, there are plenty more guys on that field who have shown to be incredible playmakers given the opportunity. I’m not saying the Bengals should avoid targeting Ja’Marr all together, but they should definitely avoid forcing him the ball with one of, if not the most stacked offensive group in the NFL.


At the moment, the line for this Super Bowl 56 matchup puts the Bengals at 4.5 point underdogs to the LA Rams; however I could see this game going either way. The Bengals would really have to play an incredible 60 minutes of football, but I’d say the odds of Cincinnati bringing home it’s first Lombardi trophy in franchise history are about 50/50. The Offensive line has to show up against an incredible Rams defense, the Bengals offense has to continue to move the ball with ease as they have all year, and the Bengals defense needs to continue to play lights out and come up with a big turnover or two. All in all it should be a very competitive game, and one of the better Super Bowls that we’ve had in a while, so let’s see if Cincinnati can come up big in the biggest game of their franchise history.