Around this time last year (the extra week to the Regular Season ensured it wouldn’t be exact), I made a Super Bowl pick, as I try to do every year. At that time, I was terribly conflicted: Do I go with the powerhouse Chiefs or the Brady-led Buccaneers? I ended up wrong last year, though I take solace in knowing that my heart wanted to pick the Buccaneers.
This year, my brain and heart are saying the same thing. This year, I’m confident.
Before diving into my thoughts, some refreshers:
Current Super Bowl Pick ‘Em Record: 4-6
- Super Bowl XLVI – New England Patriots (L)
- Super Bowl XLVII – Baltimore Ravens (W)
- Super Bowl XLVIII – Denver Broncos (L)
- Super Bowl XLIX – Seattle Seahawks (L)
- Super Bowl 50 (lol) – Carolina Panthers (L)
- Super Bowl LI – New England Patriots (W)
- Super Bowl LII – New England Patriots (L)
- Super Bowl LIII – New England Patriots (W)
- Super Bowl LIV – Kansas City Chiefs (W)
- Super Bowl LV – Kansas City Chiefs (L)
The climb to .500 continues. A critical error last year in picking a Chiefs repeat ensured that that hike would be all the harder. I would need to be correct this year and next year to reach that mark now. It also ruined my streak of winning picks—two years in a row being correct doesn’t sound like much, but it’s the best I’ve been, personally. Ah well, at least I can say I’m 3-2 in the last five years.
Actual Pick and Analysis
Every year (or what feels like every year), I like to mention how certain teams just have that “It” factor. Teams that, despite not being super flashy on paper, have that sort of vibe or energy that makes them winners. Overcoming the odds and subverting expectations of fans everywhere. When the time comes, they seem to deliver every time.
Looking back, it’s kind of strange that I don’t pick the teams with this vigor more often. I feel I’m often too swayed by the more “stacked” options, the super teams with a lot of offensive firepower. After all, scoring points is the name of the game. They say defense wins champions, but… there have been quite a few Super Bowls recently that have accumulated over 50 points. (Only two of the last six had teams score 40 accumulated points or less.) Can you blame me for picking offense?
The Ravens, back nearly a decade ago, was probably the team that epitomized this feeling most. I was so confident in them that, after they defeated the Broncos, I was convinced they would win it all. And they did. They just had that mojo to them. Joe Flacco had a postseason for the ages, though few were going to mistake him for Joe Montana. A solid team, just not an amazing team. Still won it all.
Fast forward to now, the Bengals have that same feeling to me. I picked them to beat the Raiders, but thought they’d bow out against the Titans—once they proved me wrong, I became enamored. They’re going to win it all. Sure enough, I picked them to beat the Chiefs and they did. Now I’m picking them to beat the Rams.
Even if they don’t win, kudos should be delivered unto the Rams for the year they had. At one point during the Regular Season, they looked to be squandering, losing three in a row to the Packers, Titans, and 49ers. New quarterback Matt Stafford also had a propensity to throw picks in dire situations. To go from 7-4 to 12-5, and now 3-0 in their first postseason with a quarterback whose previous postseason record was 0-3, it’s vastly impressive.
Though it helps when you also have such a stacked offense as the Rams do. Perhaps not quite to the same level as the Buccaneers last year, they have weapons like reigning OPOY Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham, Jr., and Van Jefferson. Losing reliable tight end Tyler Higbee is a blow, though back-up Kendall Blanton performed admirably in his absence. Not to mention, they have debatably the best player in the NFL currently in Aaron Donald on the defensive side.
On paper, the Rams are clearly a “better” team. They are favored to win this game, too. No disrespect to Ja’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd, but they aren’t Cooper Kupp and OBJ. Trey Hendrickson may be a sack master, but he doesn’t demolish everything like Aaron Donald. Then Los Angeles also has All-Pro corner Jalen Ramsey, which will be a hassle for rookie phenom Chase.
The biggest concern for Cincinnati is its offensive line. Mr. Burrow, Cincinnati quarterback (and savior), was the most sacked quarterback in the NFL this season. Against the Titans, he was sacked nine times (NFL Postseason record). Their opponents have 50 total sacks on the season… and Leonard Floyd, Von Miller, and Aaron Donald. All have the capacity to wreak havoc. If the Bengals want to win, they need to hold up just enough.
Still, the Bengals have had extraordinary, close wins all throughout the postseason. Last-minute field goals, clutch defensive stands; they seem to find a way to win no matter what. That magic is what has me confident in them. To hold the powerhouse Chiefs to three points in the second half of a game is phenomenal. If they can beat the Chiefs, they can beat the Rams. I have all the confidence in the world.
Now watch Burrow get sacked 11 times and the Bengals lose 55-9.
Winner: Cincinnati Bengals
Thank you for your time. Have a great timezone.