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Analysis: Super Bowl LVI

By Rodrigo Verney, February 13 2022—

A year of the best football on the planet has passed and the world prepares itself for the biggest sporting stage in recent history: The Super Bowl. Completing its 56th edition, the National Football League’s (NFL) finals will be held at the SoFi stadium in Inglewood, California, this Sunday, Feb. 13.

The stadium will hold the battle between the National Football Conference (NFC) champions Los Angeles Rams and the American Football Conference (AFC) champions Cincinnati Bengals. Making this the consecutive and also second time a team will play in their own stadium. This time around the fresh new faces bless the field and their hunger for the Vince Lombardi trophy is at an all-time high.

The Cincinnati Bengals are the fish out of water in this edition. A team that is accustomed to feeling like the younger brother since its inception, given their proximity to the Cleveland Browns, had to fight to create the image they now holds with pride.

Once being accused of sharing the same colours and resemblance to the Browns, the Bengals made their names with the tiger stripes — a symbol to any team that sought to stand in their way. They ended up going to two Super Bowls, one in 1991 and the other in 1998. Even with the chance to raise the Lombardi so close in their grasp, they lost twice to Joe Montana and the 49’ers.

This time around with them out of the way, the Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow — their strong pocket, and, consequently, O-line — don’t plan on going home empty-handed.

However, the Los Angeles Rams won’t let the Bengals claim the throne so easily. The Rams look absolutely unstoppable. The team that once housed the fearsome four reclaimed their glory with a barrage of high caliber mid-season acquisitions, and they are here to steal the show. The hard heads of Los Angeles are enjoying their home advantage, sitting comfortably at home for the finals.

Not only that, but the team has had extensive Super Bowl experience, claiming one in four appearances. Being led by 2009’s first pick Matthew Stafford with the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp receiving, Ram’s house will be louder than ever.

The two teams will head into the Super Bowl with an amazing conference championship victory. The Bengals faced off against the team that many judged impossible to lose, the Kansas City Chiefs, absolutely nullifying their pocket.

B.J. Hill will live in Patrick Mahomes’s dreams for months to come. D.J. Reader on the defense is and will be an immovable object. All of these defensive plays culminated in an amazing upsetter and a comeback from down 18 points in the first half. This win granted some respect to the Bengals name and it was just the type of magic we hope to see this Sunday.

The Rams, on the other hand, came into the postseason with the trademark LA confidence. They knew what Los Angeles stood for and they delivered. Stopping Tom Brady’s run dead on its tracks, the Rams were almost seen as the season’s villain had it not been for Brady’s retirement. The Rams have always been a go-hard or go-home team and this year was no different.

In exchange for many first-round picks, they acquired so many names throughout the season that paid off exactly how they wanted to. Matthew Stafford proved to be a catapult with legs and Beckham Jr. is a problem even with some cover. All that’s left, is the trophy.

It is impossible to talk about a major sports event, much less the major sports event, without mentioning the betting odds. This time around, the odds seem to indicate that the Rams are the clear winners by 65.3 per cent.

This statistic has been higher, but the Bengals have been considered the underdog in pretty much every game they played, so they became more likely to win once they found themselves in that position. This feels more like a protective measure than the actual result since the Bengals are looking like the clear loser in this situation.

In the end, the Lombardi trophy will have to go home with one of these two teams. If the Rams take it home this Sunday, the city will rejoice on what is another win at a major sport. This will propel Stafford’s career, which will, most likely, give him a bigger contract for more years.

The Rams will do anything in their power to maintain this squad as united as it can to try a back-to-back run. With Brady out of the way, the Rams’ chance seems to be greater than ever. Simply put, if they win, LA will be a city of champions once again.

If we witness a major upsetter, and the Bengals take the Lombardi to their trophy case, they may officially prove who runs Ohio and get some big names to join their squad. With so many teams rebuilding, the Bengals have a good chance to head into a fruitful postseason, however, a back-to-back title run seems unlikely. Whatever the case, one thing is for certain — Burrow will receive a, much deserved, improved contract.

The novelty of this year’s Super Bowl has been almost passed by football fans amidst a controversial year for the NFL. The announcement of one of the biggest names in sports history laying down his Buccaneers helmet after an impressive playoff run shook the foundations of this beloved sport. His legacy will forever be secured in the history books and in the hearts of every Patriot, Buccaneer and sports fan alike.

Although Brady will be missed, his success raises the bar for the next generation to reach even higher and produce a new age of legendary achievements. In other words, he completely changed the culture of the sport.

Considering all that was discussed here, my personal opinion leans towards the LA Rams. Powerful names and an incredible season summarize the reasons for this choice. The Bengals might have plans to suppress Kupp, but will leave Beckham Jr. open in the corner. Hence, they will have to be very creative to stop a Rams lineup that can advance 30 yards on a single stop.

It will be fun to see what Zack Taylor, the Bengals coach, will come up with and what Burrow will execute, but the LA Rams will be a threat from the moment they get their hands on the ball.  

With all said and done, this Sunday has the potential to be an amazing match. The Super Bowl has some incredible abilities. Sometimes it reveals names. Sometimes it reveals legends. It is truly a game that has to be felt — the atmosphere, the thrill, the weight of the world, all of this packed into 48 minutes of nonstop action.

The event is so much bigger than a final matchup, it is about the heart and passion of each player on and off the field. It is about making history. This is what we can take away from the Bengals versus Rams showdown. Regardless of what surprises await us Sunday, we will be witnessing history. 

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