The stage for Super Bowl LVI is set. On paper, the Los Angeles Rams come into this matchup as a consensus favorite against the Cincinnati Bengals. An old core of stars led, a young Sean McVay, and a frustrated Rams front office have decided to go all-in this season, and they’re one game away.
Since appointing McVay, he has successfully revived a franchise that has also navigated through a move to Los Angeles. However, in this new era, the Rams have already fallen short in the Super Bowl and suffered many early playoff exits.
Experience is a valuable asset in sports, especially in big games like the Super Bowl. Given the recent success, age of current rosters, and personnel, it’s easy to give them the advantage in that category; however, it is essential to look deeper.
When big games ultimately come down to the wire, you look to the men under center. Ram’s quarterback Matthew Stafford has been in the NFL since 2009 compared to Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow, who is only in his second year.
Despite this disparity, both quarterbacks have a shot at their first Super Bowl ring, and only one has a chance to add to their trophy collection.
Since the beginning of his senior year at LSU, Burrow has been nothing short of unbelievable when it’s mattered most. He is 7-0 in “must-win” games, including four in his National Championship run for LSU.
In those four games, Burrow threw for 19 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. In his last three games for Cincinnati, he has thrown for an average of 280.66 yards with a TD/INT ratio of two.
It isn’t easy to give Burrow the edge over Stafford in a quarterback comparison, but his relaxed nature and performances when it has mattered most suggest that he will rise to the occasion.
It will be critical for him to do so, as the Rams come into this game hankering redemption before it is too late.
Nothing to Lose
Burrow and the Bengals have nothing to lose as underdogs and can take a loss in this game more than the Rams can.
Acquiring veteran stars Odell Beckham Jr., Von Miller, and trading for Stafford indicated to the football world that it’s now or never for Los Angeles. With the pressure mounting and time fleeting, Burrow can come into this game as the more relaxed quarterback.
Whether Cincinnati’s defense can keep up the unbelievable standard they’ve attained, or if their offensive line can hold up, I genuinely don’t know; however, one thing that I do know is that they have a leader and a winner under center.
Who wins their First Ring?
Coming this far in the playoffs after the season they had last year is a monumental achievement on its own. It relays an unbelievable sense of belief, confidence, and ability that I am not convinced Stafford and the Rams have.
I expect this to be close, and given Burrow’s success when it’s mattered most, I like the Bengals to edge out the Rams. A young and exciting team against an aging and desperate Rams squad is a matchup from which I believe the former can thrive.
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