After five-plus months of NFL football, a record 272 regular-season games, and 12 playoff games, the 2022 Super Bowl is upon us. Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals will take on Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, California, for the Lombardi Trophy.
From the moment the Rams traded for Stafford this offseason, they were expected to reach this point. With a second-year QB coming off a major knee injury, it’s hard to imagine anyone seeing the Bengals making it this far.
However, the Bengals are now in the Super Bowl for the first time in over 30 years and have a great shot at winning it all with the way they are playing. Here are three reasons the Bengals will beat the Rams in the 2022 Super Bowl.
4. The Cincinnati Bengals no-name defense
The LA Rams defense features a lot of famous players. Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, and Von Miller are all household names for NFL fans.
For the Cincinnati Bengals, names like Trey Hendrickson, Logan Wilson, and Vonn Bell don’t move the needle nearly as much.
Despite the lack of famous faces, the Bengals defense had a solid regular season to help the team make the playoffs and stepped up big when it counted most in the postseason. The Bengals had the 17th-ranked scoring defense in 2021, just two spots behind the Rams vaunted unit.
In the playoffs, the Bengals D protected a late lead vs. the Las Vegas Raiders, frustrated the Tennessee Titans and held them to just 16 points, and did what the Buffalo Bills No. 1-ranked defense couldn’t do the week before, stopping Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime.
Rams QB Matthew Stafford has thrown untimely interceptions throughout his career, and RB Cam Akers has fumbled in big spots of late. The Bengals D might not be the ’85 Chicago Bears, but if they can make a few big plays like they have all playoffs, it could be enough for Cincinnati to get the W.
3. Joe Mixon and the running game
Almost all the discussion around the Super Bowl matchup centers on the passing offenses of the two teams. However, the Cincinnati Bengals have a big advantage when it comes to the running game.
Bengals RB Joe Mixon rushed for 1,205 and 13 touchdowns on his way to a first Pro Bowl selection. That’s much better than the LA Rams’ Sony Michel (845 yards, four TDS) and Cam Akers, who missed nearly the entire regular season with an Achilles injury.
If Bengals head coach Zac Taylor can get the running game going to blunt the fearsome Rams pass rush and make Joe Burrow’s play-action passing more effective, it will be a massive win for the team.
QBs almost always win the Super Bowl MVP award. However, if the Bengals take home the trophy this season, don’t be shocked if Mixon has a big game and gets to hold up the individual hardware at the end.
2. The only kicker drafted in 2021
In the 2021 NFL Draft, teams selected 259 college players. Only one was a placekicker.
With the No. 159 overall pick, the Cincinnati Bengals took Florida Gators kicker Evan McPherson, and that may turn out to be the best decision of the year.
McPherson had an incredible season. He was perfect inside of 40 yards and only missed two extra points. In the playoffs, he’s made 4-of-4 extra points and an astounding 12-of-12 field goals.
Conversely, LA Rams kicker Matt Gay has struggled of late. He’s missed FGs in the team’s last two outings.
In addition to his skill, McPherson has swagger too, which could make the difference on Sunday. Five of the last six 2021 playoff games have been decided by three points (and the sixth went to overtime).
If the 2022 Super Bowl comes down to a McPherson’s leg, it’ll be trophy Time for ‘Who Dey?’ Nation.
1. If the game is close late, Joe Burrow gives the Bengals the edge
Speaking of late-game heroics, if the Super Bowl comes down to a final drive, who would you rather have? Matthew Stafford, who’s lost far more big games than he’s won in his career? Or the man of many cool nicknames, Joe Burrow?
This last of the four reasons the Bengals will win the 2022 Super Bowl doesn’t come down to stats, or scheme, or really anything tangible. It comes down to the fact that Burrow just has “it,” in a way that few quarterbacks ever had.
He came into LSU like a bolt of lightning and led the team to a national championship. Then, he showed his talent, calm demeanor, and toughness at the NFL level by leading his team to the Big Game in just his second year while coming back from a horrific injury as a rookie.
The Rams may come out and jump all over the Bengals thanks to the NFC team’s decided advantage in individual talent. However, if the AFC side can keep the game close thanks to their defense, running game, and special teams, I’ll take Burrow over Stafford in the final four minutes without question.
And that’s the biggest reason the Cincinnati Bengals will beat the LA Rams in the 2022 Super Bowl.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference