SUPER BOWL SUNDAY: BIG CATS VS THE BIG HORNS
SUPER BOWL SUNDAY
This Super Bowl pick is important for your resident handicapper. If I call the right winner, I make the break-even percentage, (.525) for the year…
Truthfully, 2021 has been my best year of the 12 seasons I’ve been handicapping. I’ve smoked my best scores for Specials, Total, and Premium Picks—and managed to win four 3-legged parlays!
Keeping it real, though, I’m still a shy little puppy compared to some of these Sharks who bet 1000.00 units, equaling 5-15K per game or more…yikes…
I lack the bank account and the ‘Nads to wager that kind of money…
2021 Regular Season Overall Tally: 140 – 131 – 1 .517
Post-Season Tally 8 – 4 Cumulative Tally 148 – 135 – 1 .523
Playoff Totals 7 – 5 Cumulative Totals: 75 – 47 .615
Playoff Specials 6 – 3 Cumulative Specials: 43 – 37 - 1 = .538
GAME OF THE WEEK 11 – 10 LOCK OF THE WEEK 9 – 10 – 1
UPSET SPECIAL 14 – 6 O/U OF THE WEEK 9 – 11
PREMIUM PICK CUMULATIVE 118 – 84 – 1 .584
PARLAY WINS – 4
SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND
Las Vegas Raiders 10-7 @ Cincinnati Bengals 10-7 (-5.5, 49) LW [U]
New England Patriots 10-7 (+4.5, 44) @ Buffalo Bills 11-6 O/U
Philadelphia Eagles 9-8 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13-4 (-9, 46) [U]
San Francisco 49ers 10-7 @ Dallas Cowboys 12-5 (-3, 51) GW [U]
Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7-1 @ Kansas City Chiefs 12-5 (-13, 46.5) [O]
Arizona Cardinals 11-6 @ Los Angeles Rams 12-5 (-4, 50) [U]
DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF WEEKEND
Cincinnati Bengals (11-7) @ Tennessee Titans (12-5) -3.5 47 0/U
San Francisco 49ers 11-7 @ Green Bay Packers 13-4 -6 47.5 GW [O]
Los Angeles Rams 13-5 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13-4 (-5, 49) US [O]
Buffalo Bills 10-7 @ Kansas City Chiefs (-2 55) 12-6 LW [O]
Cincinnati Bengals (11-7) @ Kansas City Chiefs (13-5) (-7, 54) GW [O]
San Francisco 49ers 12-7 @ Los Angeles Rams 14-5 (-3.5, 45.5) US [O]
SUPER BOWL SUNDAY
CINCINATTI BENGALS @ LOS ANGELES RAMS (-4 48.5)
I started my usual in depth Super Bowl research and when I finished with the “Gil Brandt” method of determining who has the edge in 10-12 of the most important stats, a lot of doubt was removed.
My legion of readers knows I think Joe Burrow is going to win more Super Bowls than any QB playing the game today. His meteoric rise from the ashes of a rookie year torn ACL frames a great story and makes the kid easy to root for.
The Los Angeles Rams believe they can muddy Burrow’s destiny—and the Matt Stafford story of finally being in a consistently competent organization, and possibly cementing his future in Canton with a victory in SB LVI, is just as compelling a tale the Big Horns are very willing to tell.
If the Bengals iced vein rookie kicker, Evan McPherson, has a chance to win the game with a McPhield-goal anywhere under 60 yards, we know he will after a 28/33 regular season and a perfect 12/12 post-season. Unless, you traffic in the “hidden-vigorish” universe created by famed Bucco announcer, Bob Prince—the first commandment of which holds, “the odds of failure increase, the longer perfection is sustained.” In The Gunner’s terms, McPherson is “due” to bungle a kick because he’s been perfect too long.
Kicker Matthew Gay’s field goals for the Big Horns were made at a second best 94.1% in 2021—albeit not as lengthy. In fact Gay missed a 47 yarder against his former teammates in the NFCCG—a matter of technique not a lack of power.
Still, if it comes down to the kickers, Cincy fans will have more confidence.
Here are the stats where The Big Cats edge out Los Angeles:
· TO Margin per Game = +0.3 to Rams 0.1
· 1st Quarter Scoring Avg. = 4.3 to Rams 4.0
· Rushing YPG = 100.3 to Rams 98.3
· YPR Attempt = 4.0 to Rams 3.8
· Completion % = 69.13 to Rams 67.66
· Opp. Non Off. TDs Per Game = 0.1 to Rams 0.3
· Opp. FG Conversion % = 78.38 to Rams 87.18
I know what you’re thinking: “None of these statistics are significantly meaningful except the Opponents FG Conversion percentage—and that 11% difference is explained by the Big Horns playing indoors vs. Cincy outdoors mostly in cold weather."
And therein lies my point.
In every determinative stat—YPG…YPP…Scoring…. Sack%...QB Sack %...Passing YPG…Takeaways/Game; on both sides of the ball—the Rams enjoy an edge over Cincy.
Defensively, many of those edges become serious advantages—my pick ultimately turns on that statistical dynamic.
· L.A. is equal or better than the Bengals on offense & Special Teams…
· Cincy is outclassed in talent defensively by a significant margin—L.A. boasts more All- Pros, Pro Bowlers, and where it counts—in the trenches—higher PFF grades.
· The Bengals offensive line flat stinks and that isn’t going to change in the NFL’s ultimate game of the year…
In fact, in a Super Bowl, even Joe Burrow can’t hide the ugliness of that wart. A lot of pundits were singing Burrow’s praises after the Titans sacked him nine—as in “9” times. Take a look:
No fumbles, no injuries, and no picks—what are the chances Burrow stays that clean against Aaron Donald and company?
Check out this chart on how effective Aaron Donald is when double-teamed—the guy is literally nearly off the chart:
Don’t forget, Donald’s is beating double teams above the expected average by a margin not seen since the Next Gen stat industry was born—and his teammates, NT, Greg Gaines, DT, A’Shawn Robinson, and 3-time All-Pro Von Miller won’t be double-teamed.
If the Bengals have to keep Mixon or a tight end in to chip, that leaves four receivers against seven pass defenders. You better believe J’Mar Chase will be doubled even if Burrow has five WRs to choose from.
Pete Prisco over a CBSsports.com actually thinks the Bengals slot CB Mike Hilton will be able to ghost NFL OPOY Kooper Kupp for the whole game.
I’ve watched Hilton play DB with the Steelers and this year with Cincy—hell of a football player, one of the best blitzing DBs in the league—but if Zac—Not the Prez—Taylor thinks the Prisco gambit is a winning strategy, Joe Burrow better be looking to score 50 points. Scary thing is, that probably doesn’t faze the Tiger King one bit.
At this level of the sport, distraction, travel, or big game pressure are hardly ever the determinative factor.
Coaches and experience are. Even this edge goes to Sean McVeigh and the Rams, on both sides of the ball are the more balanced team…
But, hold on a minute…
GAIRZO’S SECRET STAT
I ran across this stat at teamrankings.com: In their last three games, all playoff games, Cincy is an amazing +1.7 in Turn Over Margin, per game…It could be the key if the Striped Cats pull out the victory. Seems the Bengals are playing defensive looks they didn't use in the regular season.
Cincy DC Lou Anarumo has made an impact wherever he has coached including as the Marshall Thundering Herd’s Special Teams Coordinator and DB coach in 2003—impressive stuff:
His in-game and halftime adjustments against Vegas, Tennessee, and the Arrowheads, held those three squads to a grand total of 19 second half points
Taylor and McVeigh field two of football’s most disciplined teams and each has gotten the most out of the considerable talent they have. Super Bowl LVI will be a clean, hard fought physical game.
The Rams defense will make the pivotal play in the fourth quarter.
Lay the four points; play the Over.