The Cincinnati Bengals have completed one of the greatest turnarounds in the history of the NFL. From winning just four games a year ago to making it to the Super Bowl to take on the Los Angeles Rams is an incredible feat.
But just getting there isn’t the goal for Joe Burrow and company. There are no moral victories in the NFL and despite being nearly a five-point underdog, the Bengals know they have just as good a shot as the Rams do to hoist the Lombardi Trophy when all is said and done on Sunday.
They need a few things to go their way, but Cincy has the talent on the roster to pull off yet another upset. Here are some reasons why the Bengals will win Sunday night.
Defense creates turnovers
The Bengals defense has been stellar during the NFL playoffs. They forced two Patrick Mahomes interceptions in the AFC Championship Game and have five more turnovers in the other two weeks of the postseason. Those seven total postseason turnovers is tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the most of any team.
While Matthew Stafford has only thrown one interception since the playoffs began, the Rams put the ball on the ground a ton. LA has had four turnovers forced against them this season. Cincy will need to add a couple more to that number to come away with a win Sunday.
Kicking game is automatic
Rookie kicker Evan McPherson has been a revelation in the kicking game for Cincy this season. He hasn’t missed an extra point since Week 13 and hasn’t missed a field goal since Week 16. Over the last half of the season and playoffs, he’s 30/32 on field goal attempts and has been perfect on PATs.
That may seem like not that big of a deal, but against a Rams defense that’s one of the best in the NFL in all areas, even if the Cincy offense isn’t able to move the ball consistently well, they don’t really need it to in order to come away with points. Especially if that defense comes away with a turnover or two in Rams territory. Plus, McPherson has hit a game-winning kick in the final seconds in two of the last three weeks to get his team to this point, Even though he’s a rookie, the pressure clearly isn’t getting to him.
Joe Burrow is Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow had his detractors coming into the league, but he’s proven them all wrong during his second season in the pros. He’s battled back from an ACL injury that ended his season a year ago and has never looked better.
His numbers during the postseason don’t necessarily jump off the page, but the man has a knack for winning. Reuniting with his former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase has been nearly impossible for defenses to stop. The two have connected 81 times for 1,455 yards and 13 scores in the regular season alone. He’s had two 100+ yard games in the playoffs and caught a pivotal touchdown in the comeback win over the Chiefs.
Even when he’s not throwing it to Chase, Burrow is still able to make magic happen. Though he’s not going to be the most mobile QB — running for only 118 yards all season — he can extend plays in the pocket and make life tough for the defense. He’s also able to run when he wants to, getting three or four yards here and there for a pivotal first down, so he’s not a liability with the ball in his hands past the line of scrimmage either.