We have finally made it to the big finale of the NFL season, and I'm not sure anyone expected these two teams to be fighting for the title of world champions, but against the odds, Joe Burrow and Matt Stafford are set to duke it out just hours from now.
I've gone through film, numbers, matchups, and used every resource at my disposal to get my play(s) correct here. I've gone through possible paths to victory for each team and run the model with adjustments for recent injuries, and with all of that being said, our play on the side is:
[Due to a recent lack of readers and an increase in listeners, the more in-depth discussions on the matchup can be found on our Super Bowl live streams on our Twitter that will be linked at the bottom of this article]
First of all, the Rams personnel is a horrible matchup for the Bengals' defense. Eli Apple lines up on the same side that the Rams like to line Odell and Kupp on when they run 3WR sets, which they run 84% of the time, most in the league. Both the 49ers and Tampa Bay got burned by this late in the game and let Cooper Kupp sneak behind coverage, if the Bengals have watched any film, Jessie Bates will be shadowing over to the sidelines more to protect Eli Apple from getting burned in that set, and that should open up the middle of the field for Beckham (expect him to have a big game), Jefferson, Blanton, Akers and anyone else that gets involved.
Secondly, the offensive line for CIN is terrible on the right side. The left side is fine with Williams and Spain, the problem is on the right side with Adeniji and Prince, who have the unfortunate task of taking on Aaron Donald and Von Miller. Aaron Donald is doubled over 70% of the time, which leaves the weakest part of the offensive line even weaker for Von Miller to attack. This is a BAD matchup for the Bengals and Von Miller has played very well since joining the Rams, and I'll remind you that he has the most Super Bowl experience of any player in this game, and he's won the award before (he's currently at +3600). This offensive line gave up 9 sacks to the Titans (the Chiefs game is an outlier as they have a TERRIBLE defensive line) and the Rams are a top 10 defensive line at the very least.
Third, the Bengals offense has been impressive, but they've had the second easiest schedule in terms of the strength of the opponents' defense according to Football Outsiders. If we exclude the Chiefs matchups (for the purpose of seeing how the Bengals play without a huge matchup advantage in terms of scheme) the Bengals are 0-2 this season vs top 10 teams (losses to the Packers and 49ers). I know this is the Super Bowl, not the regular season, but it is concerning that the Bengals have not played great defenses this season, even throughout the playoffs, and now have to face the monstrous unit led by Raheem Morris.
Lastly, the coaching staff for CIN seems similar to McVay's coaching staff in their SB against the Patriots, inexperienced. This is Zac Taylor's 3rd year, and his coordinators are both in their first year in their respective positions going up against a coaching staff that has seen the highs and lows of the league already, at least more so than Taylor's crew. McVay has not kept it a secret that his loss a few years ago has continued to eat at him, he has learned from his mistakes and now has the advantage in terms of coaching staff experience, which I see as a bigger factor than most believe it to be. In a time of crisis during the game, I want a coach that has seen it before and learned from past experiences.
The Bengals have been remarkable this season, there is no denying that and I like them a tremendous amount as a.great young core that can be lethal in the upcoming years and an annual playoff threat, but I don't think they have enough this time around when you look at the Rams advantages on both sides of the trenches, the coaching staffs and strength of schedule. McVay, Stafford, and the Rams are ready for this game and the Bengals' weaknesses in the secondary should be exploited by the 3WR sets that the Rams rely on.
RAMS -4 (3u)
RAMS -200 (3u)
Odell Beckham Jr OVER 66.5 yards -115 (1u)
Fun Props (0.5u MAX on each)
NO touchback on first kickoff -120
Von Miller to win SB MVP +3600
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