With 284 games already in the books, only one is left in the 2021 NFL season: the Super Bowl. The 56th edition of the league’s title game features the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams, winners of the NFC.
The Rams, who are playing the game on their own turf at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood CA, are currently listed as 4-point favorites to take home the Vince Lombardi Trophy by DraftKings Sportsbook. It would be the franchise’s first Super Bowl win in Los Angeles: the Rams’ lone championship thus far came when the team was still playing in St. Louis.
The de facto home team being favored should not come as a surprise. Not only is home field advantage usually worth around three points against the spread, the Rams also have looked better during the playoffs thus far.
Los Angeles started with a blowout win over the Arizona Cardinals, followed by a victory over Tom Brady and the reigning champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The NFC was won in come-from-behind fashion versus the San Francisco 49ers: the Rams erased a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to advance to the Super Bowl for the second time in the last four years.
The Bengals, on the other hand, played some close games in the playoffs. Following a 7-point win over the Las Vegas Raiders, they won their next two games on Evan McPherson field goals: the rookie kicker lifted his team to victory as time expired against both the Tennessee Titans and the Kansas City Chiefs.
There has been no head-to-head battle between the two teams this season so far, but the positional matchups also seem to favor the Rams. While Cincinnati has an advantage at the quarterback position — Joe Burrow has been playing better football than Matthew Stafford down the stretch this season — the Los Angeles defensive line and wide receiver depth in particular could prove to be a challenge for the AFC champions.
Obviously, though, the only thing that will matter is execution for four quarters. That said, the Rams are the popular pick to come away victoriously not just among oddsmakers: according to SB Nation’s latest Reacts survey, 57 percent of fans regardless of team affiliation believe that the NFC champions will also crown themselves NFL champs.
Also picking Los Angeles to win is Kyle Van Noy. The New England Patriots linebacker took to social media to share his belief that the Bengals offensive line will not be able to handle the Rams’ talented defense:
I like Joe Buuurrrr but I got the rams winning similarly to what TB d line did to the chiefs O line in last years SB. I don’t think the bengals line can block Donald , Floyd , Von , and Gaines plus add J-day who comes back tonight for 60 min! Just don’t see it but I like JoeyB.— Kyle Van Noy (@KVN_03) February 13, 2022
There is one silver lining for Cincinnati, though. The team was listed as a road underdog against both the Titans and Chiefs. The Bengals were able to win both of those games.
Who’s to say third time will not be the charm again?