We have come to the final game of the 2021 season. The Los Angeles Rams, playing at their home stadium, will face the Cincinnati Bengals for the NFL Championship on Sunday.
It’s an unlikely Super Bowl, not even at the start of the playoffs. The Rams were relatively unimpressive in the streak, picking up narrow wins against non-playoff teams and losing four of five to other playoff teams starting in Week 9. The Bengals finished an uninspiring 10-7, winning the AFC Central only because everyone collapsed.
Both proved the cliché that any playoff team can get hot and win it all. Cincinnati certainly warmed up, toppling the Raiders at Paul Brown Stadium before hitting the road and upsetting the top-seeded Titans and then two-time defending AFC champions. Los Angeles beat the declining Cardinals in the most lopsided game of the playoffs. Next came a stunning win over the defending champion Bucs in Tampa Bay, followed by a hard-fought home victory over division rival 49ers.
It sets up what should be a truly compelling game. The Rams are ready to win now. Trading for Matthew Stafford and Von Miller, signing Odell Beckham Jr. and putting all their eggs in Sean McVay’s 2021 basket brought them to the precipice of ultimate victory. It will be a disappointment if they don’t win.
The Bengals are there sooner than expected. Joe Burrow is only in his second season, with Ja’marr Chase as his main target as a rookie. Smaller offseason moves brought in Trey Hendrickson and Larry Ogunjobi, good players but not stars. It hasn’t mattered lately because of Burrow’s heroics and one of the league’s best-coordinated defenses gelling at just the right time.
It’s that defense, led by DC Lou Anarumo, that leads me to believe the Bengals will win. They have fewer offensive vulnerabilities than the Rams’ Burrow defense and Cincinnati’s offense. Los Angeles has top talent in Aaron Donald, Miller and Jalen Ramsey, but the rest of the defensive core doesn’t stand out. The Super Bowls always seem to come down to someone unexpected making a big play at a critical moment. I trust Bengals actors more than Rams actors. Having kicker Evan McPherson also helps keep the thumbs up in favor of Cincinnati.
Bengals 27, Rams 22
Bets on accessories
The Super Bowl is proof that you can bet on just about anything. Some of my favorite accessories and how I rely on them. Note that I don’t recommend betting money you can’t afford to lose on some of these frivolities, but if you have the bankroll, have fun…
Odell Beckham Jr. over/under 65.5 receiving yards: Below
Aaron Donald over/under 1 sack: On
Joe Burrow over/under 277.5 passing yards: On
QB with most completions: Stafford
QB with most passing yards: Terrier
Joe Mixon over/under 60.5 rushing yards: On
First tutorial: Van Jefferson
National anthem higher/lower at 1 minute and 39 seconds: Below
Will Any Scoring Record Take Less Time Than Anthem: Yes
Which song plays first during the halftime show: You lose
Which song is played last during the halftime show: california love
Will a player do the “Ickey Shuffle”: I really hope!
Will the show show Joe Burrow smoking a cigar: No
Enjoy the game!