Super Bowl Previews and Predictions


Ryan Kim and Jonathan Levy

This upcoming Sunday, at 6:30 p.m. on NBC, Super Bowl LVI, featuring the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams, will kick off in SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. The Bengals and Rams, featuring fan-favorite quarterbacks in Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford, respectively, were an unexpected matchup as neither was the favorite to win its conference championship. Nonetheless, with both teams boasting their respective strengths and weaknesses, we decided to take a look at each team’s key to success before Sunday’s big game. 

Bengals Key to Success:

The Bengals, featuring a highly explosive and high-powered offense, have been heavily dependent on the ability of Joe Burrow to deliver accurate deep passes to receivers Jamarr Chase and Tee Higgins. Moreover, against a Rams defense with a very strong defensive line and linebacker core, it’s likely that the Bengals’ reliance on deep, explosive pass plays will only increase in the Super Bowl as Joe Mixon and the Bengals’ subpar offensive line will have difficulty running the ball against the likes of Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd. However, the Rams secondary, despite featuring one of the league’s most elite cornerbacks in Jalen Ramsey, is far from elite outside of its superstar, leaving many holes for the young Bengals receivers to exploit. 

As for the passing, Bengals fans shouldn’t have much to worry as Joe Burrow has proven that he is capable of connecting with his receivers on deep balls. However, for Joe Burrow to deliver pristine passes, he must have time in the pocket to allow his receivers to create separation and to make a good decision. Furthermore, it’s imperative that the Bengals’ offensive line provide Burrow with this time. The Bengals’ offensive line, which has been subpar, to say the least thus far in these playoffs, allowed Joe Burrow to be sacked nine times in the AFC’s divisional round against the Tennessee Titans. Despite a somewhat improved performance against the Chiefs two weeks ago, especially in the second half, the Rams pass rush will be the toughest test this Bengals offensive line will face in these playoffs. Therefore, with other aspects of the Bengals’ offense largely proven, the Bengals’ inconsistent and shaky offensive line will be the x-factor in this game, as the execution of the team’s high-powered offense is dependent on their ability to hold up against the Rams’ pass-rush. 

Bengals X-factor

Performance of the offensive line against the Rams’ pass rush


Rams Key to Success

 The Rams, who comfortably beat the Cardinals and survived a furious comeback against the Brady-led Buccaneers in the past three weeks, find themselves as four point favorites as of February 10th, according to CBS Sports, against the Cincinnati Bengals. Led by quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has surpassed expectations in the playoffs, along with receiving weapons Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, and Odell Beckham Jr., the Rams high-octane offense will have to continue their hot streak if they want to come out as Super Bowl champions. Of course, their defense, championed by Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd, along with veterans Von Miller and Eric Weddle, will also need to be at the top of their game to shut down the red-hot Joe Burrow and his various weapons. Getting to Burrow will be important, as throwing him off his rhythm will only yield good results for the Rams. It will be interesting to see the matchup between Ja’Marr Chase and Jalen Ramsey, two of the game’s top players at their respective positions. Containing Chase should not be the Rams’ main worry, however, as Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd along with C.J. Uzomah will find plenty of opportunity against the Rams’ subpar secondary outside of Ramsey.

Yet, if there is one key X-factor that will determine if the Rams win or not, I would say it is ball security and the turnover game. The Rams lost four fumbles last week. Four fumbles. That is an unacceptable statistic for such a strong team, and it is also worth noting that Matthew Stafford also threw 17 interceptions in the regular season. Granted, he has been playing better, but against a strong offense like the Bengals, losing the turnover game will yield atrocious results for the Rams. Cam Akers, who came back from an Achilles tear in six months to the shock of all NFL fans, lost two of the fumbles in the Tampa Bay game, and he will have to make it his goal to not cough up the football in the biggest game of his life. Heavily underrated Jessie Bates champions the Bengals secondary, and edge rusher Trey Hendrickson will look to harass the Rams’ offensive life for the entire game. Stafford will have his security blanket in Kupp, but careless mistakes are always a possibility, especially in the heat of the moment. The Rams should win this game on paper, but I believe the turnover game will directly correlate to the results of this matchup for the Rams. 

Rams X-factor

Winning the turnover game and having good ball security


Final Predictions

Bengals 23 Rams 20

On paper, with a monster pass rush against a weak Bengals’ offensive line, there’s no denying that the Rams have the upper hand. However, the Chiefs and Titans had the upper hand against the Bengals as well, and neither of them are in the Super Bowl. Therefore, although I believe the Bengals will fall behind early, I see Joe Burrow and a strong performance from kicker Evan McPherson helping the Bengals lead a late rally to defeat the Rams at home and win Super Bowl LVI. 

– Jonathan

Rams 27 Bengals 23

Despite a valiant effort by Joe Burrow and the Bengals defensive unit, I think that Los Angeles’s experience and talent along with a career-defining performance by Cooper Kupp will propel the Rams past the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI. The first half will start off relatively slow, while the second half will be dictated largely by clock management. The Rams’ front will come up clutch in key moments, and Ramsey will lock up Chase, for the most part. I predict touchdown catches for Ja’Marr Chase, Cooper Kupp, and Odell Beckham Jr.   

– Ryan