LOS ANGELES — The AFC and NFC championship games were good to me. I went 2-0 with my ATS picks, 0-2 straight up, but was a scorching 4-1 with my Best Bets.
My straight-up record drops to 175-108-1, but that raises my ATS record to 149-132-3, and my Best Bets record for the season is now 69-60.
That 69-60 tops the Pick-Six Podcast group, but I won't finish first in either of the other two categories. But the interesting thing about the Super Bowl is that my colleague, Will Brinson, has a chance to tie me in the CBS Sports Expert Picks standings.
Brinson trails by one game after a nice late-season rally. That means the Super Bowl will decide whether he ties or loses.
Since I know his pick is the Rams, I could have picked them and assured myself of victory. Could I do that? Will I do that?
On paper, the stars play for the Rams, so it should be an easy pick. It's always stars that win, big games, right?
Not this time.
There is something special about this Bengals team. Before the 2021 season, former Saints coach Sean Payton mentioned to me that there is something to be said about a team getting on a roll at the right time as the formula to win a Super Bowl.
It happened last year with the Bucs.
It's going to happen this year with the Bengals.
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The Rams, like the Bengals, came into the postseason as a No. 4 seed, so they are on a little run as well. But they won their way into the Super Bowl on their home field, while the Bengals won on the road.
That makes the Bengals on more of a roll. Plus, who saw this coming, while the Rams built a dream team?
The key to the game will be how the Bengals handle the Rams defensive front. Can they block Aaron Donald and Von Miller and Leonard Floyd. The Bengals have a bad offensive line, especially the right side.
That will be make it a premium for Joe Burrow to speed up his clock and get the ball out. Look for a lot of quick throws, something Burrow did in the second half against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game.
The Bengals and Burrow operate well in the quick game out of empty sets, so look for a lot of that. Against the Chiefs, they didn't do enough of it on early downs. My gut is they will in this one, which will lead to big plays in the passing game. They will dictate tempo.
As for the Rams, they will get theirs as well. The Bengals defense played well against Patrick Mahomes, dropping eight and changing up their looks. I think Cincinnati will do much of the same to Matt Stafford to try and slow him down.
Then Stafford will hit his shots down the field off play-action.
I see a lot of points in this one. Both teams can score. Both quarterbacks are capable of putting their teams on their right arms and letting it rip.
In the end, I am going to go with Burrow to outplay Stafford to get his first ring in what will truly be an amazing ending to their season. Burrow will drive the Bengals to a game-winning field goal by Evan McPherson in the closing seconds as the theme of the playoffs continues.
From two wins two years ago to Super Bowl champs?
There is hope for all.
Pick: Bengals 31, Rams 30