My guess on Super Bowl LVI: Los Angeles 27, Cincinnati 24. In my opinion, any number above 3 is too high for this matchup. Bookmakers are making Rams bettors lay a premium because they know the public will head in that direction.
The public hasn’t quite accepted the fact that the Bengals are going to the Super Bowl. They bought into the story that Mathew Stafford elevates the Rams before the season started, and they’re not backing away.
The pros like any spread north of 3 because they back numbers, not stories.
Better quarterback: Joe Burrow is the real deal. After eliminating the Raiders, he overcame a nine-sack pummeling by the Titans and then led a second-half rally for the ages against the heavily-favored Chiefs. Go back and watch his tying touchdown and the two-point conversion in Kansas City. The touchdown was a repeat of the previous play after a conversation with Ja’Marr Chase following an incompletion. The conversion seemed effortless. As Tom Brady waves farewell, here comes his possible successor. I like Stafford, too. A feel-good story, but he threw the 49ers what would have been a gift interception in the fourth quarter if the defender didn’t let it drop to the turf. An interception at that point might have had us talking about a Bengals-49ers Super Bowl for the third time.
Kicking machine: Despite the math nerds, field goals matter in the NFL. Ask Andy Reid if he’d take three more points at the end of the first half against the Bengals, leading 21-10, instead of a clock-killing reception short of the end zone. Bengals rookie kicker Evan McPherson is 12-for-12 so far in the playoffs. He has ended the last two Bengals games, beating the Titans and the Chiefs.
Due a raise: You might not recognize the name Lou Anarumo, but he’s the defensive coordinator for the Bengals and responsible for shutting down Patrick Mahomes in the second half.
Mahomes’ first half: 220 yards, three TDs.
His second half: 55 yards, two INTs.
Anarumo repeatedly rushed only three and dropped eight into coverage. The strategy rattled Mahomes. Obviously, the Rams won’t be surprised. They’ll work against the scheme in practice, and it doesn’t figure to rattle Stafford or his receivers.
My action: Back in December, I bought the Rams to win the Super Bowl at + 1200. A value play. When the spread against the Bengals moved to -4.5, I immediately bet the dog. Obviously, I’m pulling for the Rams to win by a field goal or four points, but I’m basically playing with house money.
Prop action: Props are fun. I always bet the coin toss (tails, please) and pick one player from each team to score first. Obviously, the shortest prices will be on the Rams’ Cooper Kupp (hit for me in the NFC title game) and the Bengals’ Chase. But maybe take a shot on the Rams’ Odell Beckham or the Bengals’ Tee Higgins.
And always bet the QBs to throw an interception. With Stafford, that's easy money.
Good luck. Cashin’ tickets is what it’s all about!