Super Bowl LVI Breakdown And Betting Analysis

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Super Bowl LVI

Los Angeles Rams vs. Cincinnati Bengals (+4, O/U 49.5)

After the conference championship games, I checked the sports books and made my picks. I already had in mind which team I liked, and where I expected total points to end up, and why I felt that way. Researching and analyzing the matchups, rankings, and trends only reinforced my preconceived notions.

The smart money has always understood that football games are won up front. Big marquee names like Odell Beckham Jr, Cooper Kupp, and Ja’Marr Chase get all of the headlines, but the big guys in the middle set the tone.

The game in the trenches looks to be a massive mismatch that favors the Rams.

During the divisional round, Cincy QB Joe Burrow was sacked nine times, and was constantly harassed by a very good Titans defensive line. A less potent Chiefs defensive front sacked Burrow only once. However, the Chiefs did pressure and flush Burrow from the pocket on several occasions. Also, with the exception of a few runs late, Cincinnati struggled to run the ball. 

Los Angeles has one of the game’s best defensive fronts, including at least two future hall of famers in Von Miller and Aaron Donald. The same Cincinnati O-linemen that struggled with Tennessee will now have to stop two all time greats. 

Here are some interesting stats I saw, courtesy of statistics expert Professor MJ on YouTube that illustrate the Rams’ dominance in the trenches. The Rams offensive line is 1st in the NFL in Pass Block Win Rate, leading to clean pockets for QB Matt Stafford. The Rams defensive line is 1st in the NFL in both Pass Rush Win Rate and Run Stop Win Rate. Simply put, the Rams are the best in the NFL in the trenches. Cincinnati will have to get creative to run the ball as well as to protect Joe Burrow.

Another important matchup will be rookie star receiver Ja’Marr Chase vs. All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey had one game all year where he surrendered more than 100 yards to an opposing receiver, and that was in the divisional round against Tampa Bay, most coming on one long touchdown catch by Mike Evans. Ramsey has allowed less than 20 yards to opposing receivers seven times this season. In the NFC title game, Ramsey allowed zero catches for zero yards to Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk on plays where he matched up on them.

As I will mention in a later article, this matchup will have some serious implications for prop bets.

The Bengals defense, particularly their secondary, has played very well during the playoffs. They were nothing short of spectacular in the second half and overtime of the AFC Championship game. The Bengals D held Patrick Mahomes to 8 of 18 passing, 55 yards, four sacks, no touchdowns, and two picks. Matt Stafford has been very good, but as we saw during the NFC Championship game, he can be mistake prone. If Stafford plays a clean game, the Rams are tough to beat. LA is 8-0 this season in games where Stafford does not throw an interception. If Cincinnati is able to force some mistakes and give their offense short fields, they have a very good chance to win.

Cincinnati deserves a lot of credit for making it this far. Make no mistake, they could absolutely win this game and I would not be shocked in the least. However, the Rams are one of the worst possible matchups for the Bengals because of the game in the trenches.

I like the Rams to win and cover four points. I really like the under. 20 points could easily win this game. I have a bet on the Rams to cover, but would bet that far more confidently if the spread fell to -3.

My final score prediction: Rams 23, Bengals 17.

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