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Super Bowl LVI Pick: How is This Going to End?

We have one game left to pick and we made sure we did our research on this one! Here’s how we’re deciding on Super Bowl LVI.

"SoFi Stadium June 26, 2020" by Don Norris- is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Super Bowl LVI Pick: How is This Going to End?

Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

It is all going to come down to this game. I am not talking about the Rams or the Bengals. I am talking about what’s most important.

My playoff picks’ legacy.

We stand at .500 after having split the Conference Championship games.

The Super Bowl is going to determine how we view this postseason run. Will we pick wrong and spend the next six months feeling like a failure? Or will we pick right and head straight to Vegas because a 7-6 playoff record means we have this gambling thing figured out?

We need to examine this game from multiple angles to hopefully steer us in the right direction.

Let’s get to the four things I’m looking at to help my pick, followed by the choice for the big game!

Conference Championships = 1-1

Playoffs-to-Date = 6-6

Cincinnati Bengals @ Los Angeles Rams (-4)

Last Matchup = Los Angeles won at Cincinnati 24-10 in Week 8 of the 2019 season

There isn’t a ton from this game that should influence our pick considering how long ago this game was. It also featured a Jared Goff vs. Andy Dalton QB matchup. Still, it’s interesting to at least take a look at what happened.

The main takeaway is Cooper Kupp went off with seven catches for 220 yards and a touchdown, while the Rams defense sacked Dalton five times. My expectation is for the Rams to win this Super Bowl they’ll need similar production from Kupp and their defense. So it’s nice to see they have at least done it once before vs. the Bengals.

Coaching Comparison

Here are a few interesting nuggets about the performance of head coaches in the Super Bowl.

  • Record of coaches in their 1st Super Bowl = 28-30
  • Record of coaches in their 2nd Super Bowl = 16-9
  • Record of coaches in their 2nd Super Bowl vs. coaches in their 1st Super Bowl = 7-2

Experience matters, which is why Sean McVay looks to have a distinct advantage over Zac Taylor in this game. McVay also has a .679 winning percentage in his five seasons with the Rams. Taylor has a .337 winning percentage during his three seasons in Cincinnati.

Fun Fact: The two times a first-time Super Bowl coach beat a second-time coach involved four coaches named Mike. Mike Shanahan’s Broncos defeated Mike Holmgren’s Packers in SB 32, and Mike McCarthy’s Packers beat Mike Tomlin’s Steelers in SB 45.

Team Performances

These teams were almost scarily similar this season in terms of rushing/passing yardage, both on offense and defense.

Rushing yards for23rd25th
Rushing yards against5th6th
Passing yards for7th5th
Passing yards against26th22nd

This tells a story that both teams struggle to run, while they don’t let up many rushing yards from opposing teams. In terms of passing, both can air it out but also struggle to limit the pass offense of their opponents.

If this game looks to be trending towards two very busy quarterbacks, we need to go deeper on how each team performs for and against the pass.

Passing TDs for7th2nd
Passing TDs against13th2nd
Sacks made11th3rd
Sacks allowed30th8th

Now this showcases a clear advantage for the Rams. While Cincinnati did a great job keeping Joe Burrow upright vs. the Chiefs, we must acknowledge Kansas City was 29th in sacks this season. How many times did Burrow get sacked when the Bengals faced the Titans (9th in sacks made) in the Divisional Round?

This Rams defense boasts one of the most feared pass rushes in the league, and they didn’t even have Von Miller for a full season.

Historical Factor

Defense-adjusted Value Over Average is one of the better statistics we have in sports. DVOA “compares success on each play to the league average based on a number of variables including down, distance, location on field, current score gap, quarter, and opponent quality.”

The worst ranked SB winners in DVOA history are:

  • 2007 New York Giants (14th)
  • 2011 New York Giants (11th)
  • 2001 New England Patriots (11th)

The average finish for the last 10 Super Bowl champions was ~5th.

The Rams finished the 2021 season ranked 5th, while the Bengals ranked 17th. Cincinnati would be the “worst” SB winner in DVOA history.

The Bengals also had seven losses this season. A Super Bowl win would tie them with the 2011 Giants for the most losses in a season by the ultimate league champion.

The Pick…

For me, my pick is coming down to three main factors:

  • I think Sean McVay is a better coach than Zac Taylor and I think the SB LIII loss to the Patriots will fuel the Rams getting the best McVay performance possible
  • I think the Rams having such a good pass rush and the Bengals having such bad pass protection will dictate how this game goes
  • I think when the game is over, we’ll look at the Bengals being a below average team in DVOA and wonder why we ever thought they even had a chance

This is all why I’m going with Los Angeles.

That is going to do it for us this season. I want to thank everyone who followed along and apologize to anyone who expected the picks to make them rich.

But for those who did expect to get absurdly wealthy off these picks, and for the Cincinnati Bengals, there’s always next year!

Terry is from Massachusetts and is a passionate fan of the Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox and Bruins. He also will admit he only pays attention to Syracuse basketball when they're good. If there's a Twitter trade rumor even remotely associated with one of his teams, he's likely fallen for it. Finally, he believes 100% that if the Celtics had beaten the Heat in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals they would have swept the Thunder in the Finals.

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