Image via NFL.com
The CouchGM team and Super Bowl Predictor make picks for the Super Bowl.
Here’s how everybody has fared so far:
|Predictor||Correct Picks||Incorrect Picks|
|Super Bowl Predictor||6||6|
In the Conference Championship games everybody went 1-1 and had the same picks: Kansas City and Los Angeles.
|Los Angeles Rams||49.42%|
The CouchGM model see this as basically a coin flip (50.58% chance that the Bengals win, so a minimal favorite). FiveThirtyEight's model (68% chance the Rams win) and ESPN’s FPI (66% chance the Rams win) both favor the Rams. Our model is based on historical results of recent champions, and if the Bengals keep playing the way they have been then this could go down to the wire.
There are 4 possible outcomes. I will list them all in increasing likelihood (least likely first):
1. Bengals blowout. This is the least likely. It’s certainly possible, with Matt Stafford reverting to his career average of 15 wins and 71 losses against teams with winning records and Joe Burrow channeling his LSU passing days.
2. Rams winning a close one is more likely than a Bengals blowout. I vote this as less likely than the remaining 2 outcomes because I am a believer in Joe Burrow down the stretch, and not so much in Matthew Stafford. In clutch time I would rather have Burrow with the ball than Stafford if I needed a touchdown.
3. Bengals win a close one. I just mentioned, if the Bengals keep the score close then I would not bet against Joe Burrow to put together a game winning drive. The way this scenario would play out is the Bengals continuing to do best what they have done all postseason - force turnovers. The Bengals have 6 interceptions and have recovered a fumble, so 7 forced turnovers this postseason compared to only 2 turnovers of their own. If there are no Rams interceptions and the Bengals get a timely turnover or 2, they will be in the game and able to pull out a close, low scoring affair. Think 24-21 or 24-17.
4. The 4th scenario, which is most likely to me and is what I think we’re in for, is a Rams blowout. Here are the 2 ways it could go down. Either 1) the Rams defense destroys Joe Burrow and holds the Bengals to less than 14 points, or 2) Stafford plays like the superstar the Rams think he is and puts up 4 TD passes and they score over 30 points. Actually, both of those may happen and we see a 35-13 game. I hope not. But let’s face it, the Rams defense is good. They have played 3 playoff games and given up less rushing yards than 4 teams that played less games than them. Of all playoff teams to play 3 games (Rams, Bengals, Chiefs, 49ers) they have allowed the fewest passing yards. They allowed less points in 3 playoff games than the Bills did in 2. Offensively, they average 400 yards per game.
Final score prediction, Rams 27 - Bengals 19, which includes a late Bengals TD to make the score seem closer than the game really is.
Generally when a championship is on the line, whether in a Super Bowl or any other championship game (including a game 7), broadcasters speak in hyperbole and “throw out the records” and merely say that the team that wants it more or just makes more plays wins. I think that’s weak analysis and although most Super Bowls are decided by a few highlight plays, if you look at statistical trends and big-picture matchups, you will find clues as to who has a greater chance to win.
In the regular season, the Rams offense averaged 27 points, 273 yards passing and 99 yards rushing on a 59:41 pass:rush ratio.
In the postseason, the Rams offense has averaged 28 points, 305 yards passing and 94 yards rushing on a 51:49 pass:rush ratio.
In the regular season, the Rams defense gave up 22 points, 242 yards passing and 103 yards rushing.
In the postseason, the Rams defense has given up 18 points, 221 yards passing and 54 yards rushing.
Conclusion: When the competition has gotten better and the stakes larger, the Rams have played better than average on both offense and defense. The Rams offense has been more balanced and more efficient in the playoffs. The Rams defense has been strong against the run.
In the regular season, the Bengals offense averaged 27 points, 259 yards passing and 103 yards rushing on a 59:41 pass:rush ratio.
In the postseason, the Bengals offense has averaged 24 points, 249 yards passing and 88 yards rushing on a 61:39 pass:rush ratio.
In the regular season, the Bengals defense gave up 22 points, 248 yards passing and 103 yards rushing.
In the postseason, the Bengals defense has given up 20 points, 243 yards passing and 127 yards rushing.
Conclusion: When the competition has gotten better and the stakes larger, the Bengals have played slightly worse than average on offense and average on scoring and passing defense but worse than average against the run.
1. Bengals offensive line against Rams defensive line: Advantage Rams. The Bengals have given up a lot of sacks this postseason. We all know that. If the Rams get up early, Joe Burrow could spend a lot of time on the ground and Aaron Donald, Von Miller et al. will make his Super Bowl unpleasant.
2. Bengals running back/receivers against Rams linebackers/secondary: Advantage Rams (but an opportunity for the Bengals). If the Bengals can employ a ball-control, play-action heavy game-plan with Joe Mixon grinding out yards and Joe Burrow hitting some downfield throws, the Bengals could win and one of the Joes (probably Burrow) will be MVP. However, if the Rams can slow Mixon and make the Bengals face a lot of 3rd and longs, the Rams will win and probably by double digits.
3. Bengals offense against Rams defense: Advantage Rams. The Jalen Ramsey/Ja’Marr Chase matchup will be fun to watch but overall, the Rams defense should keep the Bengals offensive output below average.
4. Rams offensive line against Bengals defensive line: Advantage Rams (but an opportunity for the Bengals). This is the matchup that will dictate the final score. If Matthew Stafford has time to throw and the Rams RBs run for 100+ yards, the Rams will win big. If the Bengals D-line gets to Stafford and sacks or pressures him into an inefficient game with an INT or two, the Bengals could keep it close and win with a late score.
5. Rams running back/receivers against Bengals linebackers/secondary: Advantage Rams. Although the Rams will feel the loss of TE Tyler Higbee, the Rams’ RBs and WRs will outclass the Bengals linebackers/secondary.
6. Rams offense against Bengals defense: Advantage Rams. Matthew Stafford is on a roll. Sean McVay is too. That combination is too much for the Bengals’ defense.
Final Score: I don’t see the Bengals scoring more than 23 and I see the Rams scoring at least 31, so I’ll go with Rams 37 - Bengals 22.
It sure seems like everything points to a Rams victory:
The game is in Los Angeles.
ESPN FPI and FiveThirtyEight's models favor LA 2-to-1.
The spread at the time of writing is LA -4.0.
The Rams have veteran star power all over: Stafford, Kupp, OBJ, Ramsey, Donald, Miller. The team was quite literally built for this moment.
The Rams have paid their dues: the Rams lost in the Super Bowl just 3 seasons ago with the same coach and many of the same players. Stafford toiled away on bad Lions teams for years. The Bengals are new, ahead of schedule, and haven't "earned their place" yet.
McVay is regarded as one of the best coaches in the league.
The Rams D had the third most sacks (50) in the regular season. The Bengals O allowed the third most sacks (55) in the regular season and have already allowed 12 this postseason (though 9 were in one game that they managed to win). This could be like last year's Super Bowl when Mahomes was running for his life all day and the Chiefs couldn't accomplish anything in offense.
The analysis provided above.
The Rams are wearing white uniforms, and 14 of the last 17 Super Bowl winners have worn white.
A Rams win is probably the most likely outcome. And yet…
I can't shake the feeling that Joe Burrow will get it done. This is a guy that in the College Football Playoff finale threw for 463 yards and 5 touchdowns and ran for another 58 yards and a touchdown. In the three most important games of his life (2019 SEC championship game, CFP Semifinal, and CFP Final), Burrow completed 88/126 passes (69.8%) for 1305 yards, 16 TDs, and 0 interceptions. The dude shows up for big games. Sure, that was college, but it's closer to a Super Bowl than Stafford has been in the last 10 years. In the NFL, the Bengals have bought into Burrow's leadership since day 1.
LA's postseason stats are inflated by a complete dismantling of the hapless Cardinals in the wildcard round. Their win against the Niners in the NFC Championship game wasn't exactly convincing. The Bengals, on the other hand, beat the Chiefs, many's Super Bowl pick.
Joe Mixon leads the postseason field with 190 rushing yards. The Bengals lead the postseason field with a +5 turnover margin and in field goal kicking (12/12), including 3/3 from 50+ yards and 2 game winners.
Give me Cincinnati, and give Joe Burrow one more cigar.back to blog