By Joa Maciel
Super Bowl Preview
Wow! What more can I say? This conference championship weekend has got me laughing, yelling, jumping and I even got nervous and trust me, my NFL team is far from the super bowl (I am a sad Miami Dolphins fan). Both games were late-game thrillers and could’ve gone either way but here we are the super bowl Rams vs Bengals.
A New Face
The story that I first thought about when the Bengals knocked out the Chiefs in the conference championship game was that this is the first time since 2016 that the Super Bowl won’t feature either Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes allowing the league to have a new face as champions. To some (the casual NFL fans) this may be a bad thing and they might think that the Super Bowl will be boring and won’t have the “big names”. I tend to disagree, I think this Super Bowl will allow a star to grow into a superstar, Joe Burrow has been having one of the most incredible playoff runs I have seen in a while, if he wins a ring in his second season he will put his name among the elite QBs of the NFL.
Now I don’t necessarily think there is a clear-cut hero and villain in this Super Bowl and honestly, that has been the case since 2019 when the Rams played the Patriots and the Patriots were the villains. However, the Bengals are a story that is impossible not to root for, two years ago they were at the very bottom of the NFL only winning 2 games, an NFL worst in 2019. Fast forward to 2022 and the Bengals won the AFC North despite having the worst pre-season odds to do so, beat the Raiders in the wild card in which there were some people expecting the Raiders to win that game, beat the first seed and heavily favored Titans in the divisional round and then beat the reigning AFC Champions and the juggernaut in the Chiefs in overtime. They went against all odds especially Vegas because Vegas gave them a 75-1 odds to win the AFC at the beginning of the postseason. Ladies and Gentlemen, if you have read my editorial about soccer, the Bengals are the 2016 Leicester City of the NFL. Especially since the Bengals did it the same way Leicester did it in 2016, with great scouting and great development, they didn’t do any crazy trades or overspent money in free agency they just drafted their guys and let them grow in to stars. Also the Bengals were one of the most entertaining teams to watch in the postseason.
Now I will rephrase myself, there is no actual hero or villain in this Super Bowl but an argument can be made for the Rams being the villain. I just completely sensationalized the Bengals in my last paragraph saying they fought against all odds and developed their guys the right way. The Rams however, did the exact opposite, out of the key guys in this Los Angeles Rams roster only Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald were actually drafted by the Rams, Jalen Ramey got traded from Jacksonville to LA, Von Miller came from Denver, Matthew Stafford came in the offseason from Detroit and Odell Beckham Jr was signed at the trade deadline. Homegrown talent isn’t really LA’s thing and that’s alright plenty of Super Bowl teams won that way, it just right management, having salary cap and giving out good pitches to make players want to play for your franchise. However, a lot of people may look at LA and hate on them because of the amount of quality players that joined their franchise in recent times.
Cincinnati X factor
To me, The Bengals biggest X factor has to be Running Back Joe Mixon. Joe Mixon might be the most important player in the Bengals offense to win this game because we know Joe Burrow is going to do his thing and have himself a good game which means the passing game will be effective, getting past Los Angeles run defense which is the challenge. The Rams have one of the best run defenses in the entire NFL and Joe Mixon has been playing phenomenally well for the Bengals if he can keep it up and at least contain the Rams run defense, the Bengals have a big shot in winning the Super Bowl. Cincy can also use Joe Mixon as a option to get creative with their plays and trick the Rams, maybe we can see some RPOs or some play-action plays that will get the Rams on their heals and get the Bengals a couple of downs and scores.
Los Angeles X factor
To me, LA’s biggest X factor has to be Corner Back Jalen Ramsey. Jalen Ramsey is among the best corners in the NFL and right now he is in the biggest stage to prove that he belongs in that conversation. Cincinnati’s receiving core is insane with players like Tee Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase catching passes from Joe Burrow, the Bengals passing game is no doubt their strong suit and if Ramsey can anchor the Rams secondary and stop the passing game then the Los Angeles Rams are your 2022 Super Bowl Champions.
The moment you all have been waiting for, the prediction. I'm just gonna come out and say it, my predictions is 35-24 Rams with Aaron Donald being the Super Bowl MVP. The Bengals are great and they are a amazing story but I think their Hollywood underdog story gets crushed in Hollywood by the team from Hollywood, the reason towards that is because of the Bengals Offensive Line. The Bengals O line had a hard time containing a above average at best Kansas City Chiefs Defensive line and if they had trouble with them imagine trying to stop Aaron Donald, arguably the best defender in the entire NFL and also arguably the best defender in the last two decades and Von Miller one of the best linebackers in the NFL, it is going to be a very tough task and I don’t think that the Bengals O line will be able to complete that task. The Rams are also a juggernaut, I was saying since the pre-season there is no reason to why the Rams can’t win the Super Bowl, they have the most balanced team in football. Their defense is phenomenal from the secondary to the front 7, their offense is explosive with the receiving core consisting of Kupp and OBJ, their O line is great. All LA needed in this last couple of years was a decent enough Quarter Back and now they have that in Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles literally doesn’t have a single hole in their football team, that’s why I always said that they were going to win this Super Bowl and where else to win a Super Bowl then in your home stadium.