Well fans, another NFL season comes to a close on Sunday with Superb Owl 56. Curious thing about the SB is that the average fan treats it as if there were no NFL champions prior that fateful day in January of 1967 when the Packers stomped the AFL Champion Chiefs in the “NFL-AFL World Championship Game.” So technically, the Packers were already the NFL Champions before the game began. That game was also played in Los Angeles at the venerable Coliseum. Although it drew a very respectable TV audience of 60 million, the stands were about half empty with fans being put off by the exorbitant $12 ticket price. The game was broadcast on CBS and NBC as networks for the two competing leagues. The game itself was competitive until halftime but a total snooze in the second half as the Chiefs looked overmatched. Rarely used Packers wideout Max McGee (who by his own admission was badly hungover from a night on the town) was the true star of the game catching 7 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns. McGee had caught only 14 passes all season as the backup to Bowd Dowler. And it was not until Superb Owl 3 that the game took on that official moniker. But it is as if NFL Championships before the 1966 are discounted. There is no denying that the SB put the NFL on the road to the sports dominance that it enjoys today in the US (with a big assist of late from fantasy football), but do we really want to forget the hard earned championships of the Akron Pros (1920), Canton Bulldogs ((1922-23, Frankfort Yellow Jackets (1926) or Providence Steam Roller (1928) or the dominance of the Cleveland Browns in the 1950s – not to mention the 3 championships won by the Detroit Lions. Well, perhaps we do. Red for one has always found the very name Super Bowl to be more than just a little stupid but Red has been out of touch with popular opinion since Carter was president.
On to the game at hand:
Rams over Bengals.
Red doesn’t like this pick one bit, but he is of the mind that there will be a home-field advantage of sorts for the Rams. Realistically these days probably 80% of the crowd are corporate bigwigs, NFL hangers-on and other high muckety-mucks with the actual fans of the teams getting squeezed out or priced out. Note: tickets on the resale market are topping $50,000 in some cases. But being at home all week and playing in your home stadium has a plus. Not that the Rams have been all that great at home (5-3). And 4 of their 5 wins were against Jacksonville, Detroit, Seattle and Chicago. The only playoff team they beat in LA was the Bucs. In fact, during the regular season the Rams only beat two playoff teams – the Bucs again and the division rival Cardinals. And the Rams had a relatively easy playoff schedule with the sagging Cardinals, the overrated Bucs and the overachieving Niners. Red thinks the Rams chance rest entirely in the hands of the league’s best receiver this season – the incredible Cooper Kupp. If Kupp is over 110 yards receiving, the Bengals are in trouble. The smart money says that the Rams will make the Bengals account for the run and that will be the key. Red thinks that the Rams will throw early and often and use that to open up the running game if they get the lead. The Bengals should be able to contain the Rams running game unless they have to chase Kupp & Co. all over the field.
Meanwhile in Ohio, the Bengals were up an down in 2021 – putting together one 3 game win streak all season long – a convenient 3 game winning streak to end the season. They had 4 wins over playoff teams – Stealers twice, Raiders and Chiefs. Their path to the SB was considerably more difficult having to best the No. 1 and 2 seeds on the road. The Bengals have a much more balanced offense with a dynamic running game. Joe Mixon is far and away the best running back on the field on Sunday. JaMarr Chase isn’t Kupp but he can match him on a good day. If the Bengals can run and keep Stafford off the field, they certainly have a chance.
As far as the defenses go, there is no question that LA is the superior unit. Defense wins championships – except when it doesn’t. Although Red has tried mightily to talk himself out of this one, the Rams’ defense and home field advantage carry the day.
As for betting, excluding SB Uno in which there is no record O/U available, the betting boys tell us that to this point the O/U is 27 -27. Talk about your toss up. The last 3 games have all fallen short of the line (including the Patriots 13-3 stinker over the Rams in 2019 – please God, spare us from a repeat of that punt fest). The latest O/U is 48.5. Red is totally ambivalent about that number but if he had Kyle Rittenhouse pointing an assault rifle at him he would take the over (and then try to kick that little piece of shit’s ass). The Rams are a 3.5 favorite as Red writes. Red thinks this is a 3 point type of game either way. If this season’s playoff history holds true – one team is kicking a game winning field goal as time expires. Red’s call is Los Angeles 27 Cincinnati 24.