The last couple of rounds of the playoffs have not been so kind to us. Some tough beats and overall we have probably failed to take the Bengals seriously enough. Well, I can tell you that ends now. The final game of the season in what has been an absolutely epic postseason I suspect will live up to the billing.
This is where legacies are made and the outcome of this game will have a significant impact on all of those involved in it. There are no guarantees we see either of these teams back anytime soon, although I could make the case for both. That’s just the way it goes. That is the finality of the situation and there are any number of future Hall of Famers who would tell you that once they reach this level they thought they would be back time and time again. The reality for most of them is these opportunities were fleeting. And at this moment in time I find myself leaning to the team that probably doesn’t even realize the magnitude of what it has accomplished to this point and that in my estimation is most likely to be the looser and more freewheeling of the two teams.
Bengals +4 vs. Rams
Give me the points here, especially since it’s more than a field goal. I get that this is the home stadium the Rams play in, but I am less than convinced that this will be a true home-field advantage and I also think having to play at home ramps up the expectations for an L.A. team that started to look a little desperate and out of sorts in the NFC Championship Game at home. I’m not sure that this will bring out the best in the Rams and again I think the Bengals are already the team that’s playing with house money.
I’ve been following logic to this point and handicapping these Bengals games and figuring that their protection deficiencies would lead them to lose. However, the officials are letting a lot of things go in this postseason. We’re not seeing a ton of holding calls and Joe Burrow has proven to be very adept at getting away from pass-rushers. I actually think the best defensive line he faced was at Tennessee, and I would give them an overall edge over this Rams group — and even being sacked nine times wasn’t enough to put Burrow out in that one. I also expect Bengals coach Zac Taylor to activate his running backs fully and for them to have upwards of 40 touches in this game to mitigate the damage Aaron Donald can do, relying on a screen game and keeping the clock going on the ground.
The Bengals are going to have to be more efficient in the red zone and I think they can be. I also think from their spread formations they will be able to find some success against the Rams group of safeties. Even if Jalen Ramsey does the job on Ja’Marr Chase, options will abound for Burrow. All of these games scripts have basically put this thing down to special teams, and I would not bet against the Bengals rookie kicker Evan McPherson, nor would I continue to bet against Burrow at this point. The Bengals have something special going on here. The win at Arrowhead will only further their belief and determination and I think they have one more upset in them.
Prediction: I say Bengals 31-30.