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Six Early Predictions For Super Bowl LVI Between The Rams And Bengals

We have a relatively long wait for Super Bowl LVI, but that gives everyone plenty of time to break down the matchup. Let’s get right to it with six early predictions for the Big Game on February 13.


The Rams limit Joe Mixon to under 50 rushing yards

In the NFC Championship win over the 49ers, the Rams held San Francisco’s potent rushing attack to just 50 yards on 20 attempts. Look for the Los Angeles defense to come out fired up with a similar approach of trying to stuff the Bengals run game led by one of the best running backs in football in Joe Mixon. As Tony Romo often noted on the CBS broadcast for the AFC Championship, he wanted the Bengals to throw the ball more on first down. If the Rams are selling out to stop the run, that would be a wise path that could ultimately help soften things up and open more lanes for Mixon to break long runs—but an explosive play might be needed to eclipse 50 rushing yards. Also, look for Mixon (and Samaje Perine and Chris Evans) to be heavily involved as receivers out of the backfield after Niners running back Elijah Mitchell did some damage there against the Rams.


Tyler Boyd will lead the Bengals in receiving yards

While there is obviously just one game remaining on the slate with just two teams left standing for a championship, there’ll be plenty of sports betting and daily fantasy contests drawing interest in the coming days—from the color of the Gatorade bath for the winning coach (no guesses there) to the first touchdown scorer to the final score (which someone made $579K on from Championship Sunday).


Those in daily fantasy contests on apps like PrizePicks should take note of this one. The Rams defense can be very difficult to attack on the outside, especially whichever side All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey is playing. But they can be beaten over the middle. That could be Tee Higgins going up for in-breaking routes like he did at the end of the upset victory over the Chiefs. And Ja’Marr Chase can run the entire route tree and dominate. However, Tyler Boyd might be the key for Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati offense, especially with tight end C.J. Uzomah banged up and likely to be at less than 100% while dealing with a sprained MCL suffered over the weekend. Boyd has had big games in the past, and he might need a career performance to help the Bengals pull off the upset in a couple of Sundays.


Matthew Stafford throws multiple interceptions

Matthew Stafford, who led the NFL in interceptions this season, was very fortunate not to throw a costly late-game interception to Jaquiski Tartt in the fourth quarter of the NFC title game, throwing a deep ball that was not open and was mightily underthrown. It would have been Stafford’s second interception on the day, and the veteran quarterback is known to be a gunslinger, bringing the risk/reward that can lead to both tremendous touchdown throws and bad mistakes. The safeties of the Bengals are among the best in football, and they will look to make Stafford pay for any deep shots that aren’t there – similar to what they did to Patrick Mahomes in overtime. Multiple interceptions from Stafford could be critical in helping make Super Bowl LVI a close one.


Joe Burrow throws for 350 yards

If the Rams do limit Joe Mixon and the Cincinnati rushing attack, Zac Taylor’s offense will be asking quite a lot of their second-year quarterback versus a stingy Rams defense. As Burrow has shown this postseason, he should be up for the challenge. And Burrow threw for 971 yards and eight touchdowns in the final two games of the regular season, with the weapons to put up those types of numbers against any defense. The former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick has about as much confidence as you could ask for from a quarterback, so he should be slinging the ball around no matter the score.


The Rams defense records 5+ sacks

While Burrow and the Bengals passing attack should get theirs given the talent they have on the outside, the Rams’ defensive play at the end of the NFC Championship Game could be a sign of things to come in Super Bowl LVI, when they put relentless pressure on Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the final drive of the game, basically giving him no chance to hit his receivers. The weakness of the Bengals is clear: the offensive line has struggled in pass protection. And a key for the Rams all postseason has been the pass rush. Burrow overcame it against the Chiefs to avoid sacks and make plays with his legs, but the Rams have Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Leonard Floyd to get after him. As the Bengals showed in the win over the Titans in Divisional Round, when Burrow was sacked nine times, they can still pull off a win despite their quarterback getting beat up; but it might be too much to ask of Burrow to work his magic in the pocket and avoid fewer than at least a few sacks against LA.


The Bengals have the crowd advantage

The Rams are the second team ever (and the second consecutive team after the Bucs last season) to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium, but SoFi Stadium has not been a friendly confine for Sean McVay’s squad as of late. Niners fans twice took over the crowd in the past month. Look for the Bengals, who are the underdogs and will naturally have more neutral people cheering for them, to have a similar representation for the Big Game on February 13. It’s early, and we’ll see how the analytics break the ticket sales down, but it would not be surprising if the Rams again need to embarrassingly use a silent count at home.


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