Super Bowl LVI conveniently falls on “Desperation Day” on the eve before Valentine’s Day. Love may be in the air, but the fog of desperation is creeping in over the clear skies of SoCal this weekend.
The LA Rams traded their first-round picks, their souls, their first born, and shares of bitcoin to get to this very moment. A steep price to pay but one that has paid off in the short term. The visitors from the East want this just as bad. The Cincinnati Bengals have been a down-on-their-luck franchise for over 30 years. It took the swagger of one baby face Ohio kid and the second coming of Jerry Rice in Ja’Marr Chase to get their shot of redemption. Here is what I’m looking out for in what has the makings of a Super Bowl classic.
Can Matt Stafford do this thing? – Stafford must be counting his blessings after being saved from the Island of Misfit Toys near the North Pole in Detroit. Will he make the most of it? His play has been inconsistent at times, throwing interceptions that would make Jameis Winston and Nathan Peterman blush. He has also had his moments with Cooper Kupp, OBJ and company as his supporting cast. This team on paper should break 30. However, you give this Bengals team an inch, and they’ll take a mile. Just ask Kansas City. Limit the mistakes. Win the crowd (Gladiator reference). Where else can you find a Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Gladiator reference in the same article?
Will Cincy’s O-line hold up?– The Bengals offensive line nearly got Joe Burrow killed against the Titans. They were a little more composed against the Chiefs but they still got their hits on Wonder Boy. It’s a good thing Burrow is a cool guy. Imagine if Aaron Rodgers played behind that line? Can Cincy hold up against the likes of Aaron Donald and Von Miller? They better hope so or Burrow will be in street clothes by halftime.
Did Sean McVay learn from his previous failure? – McVay led the Rams to a Super Bowl 3 years ago against the Patriots in what was easily the least entertaining Super Bowl in league history. He was outmanned and outcoached. The good news is Tom Brady is not walking out of the opposing sides locker room. The bad news is the quarterback that is has Brady like qualities. McVay must get Stafford going in this game early but also mix in the run to keep the ball out of Burrow’s hands. Will he capture this moment? Or just let it slip(…again)? Man, that’s going to be an entertaining halftime show.
Cooper Kupp vs. Ja’Marr Chase– I have found myself this postseason asking the same question about these two: HOW DO YOU GET SO WIDE OPEN? Both players made key catches late in the divisional round to set up a game winning field goal. Both followed up those performances with touchdown grabs in the championship. The storyline may be Burrow vs. Stafford, but this is the real matchup to watch.
Here at “The Message Pitch” we hope you enjoy the end of football season with good eats and better company. I also would like to take this time to make a special shout out:
Get your *#$% together. I will not be stuck with basketball and hockey all Spring and I will certainly not accept the Atlanta Braves as reigning champs 2 years in a row. FIX IT.