Armando Salguero: Logic Says Rams Win Super Bowl LVI But Heart Loves The Bengals

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LOS ANGELES — There’s really no logical reason why the upstart Cincinnati Bengals got to Super Bowl LVI, and even with this underdog team here and fully vested in shocking the world, it’s still really hard to expect them to actually win.

The Los Angeles Rams, you see, are the better team.

They’ve got more stars.

They’ve got a more complete and experienced roster.

The key matchups all over the field — such as along the line of scrimmage — strongly favor the Rams.

And they’ve spent all week in their home town and will play Super Bowl LVI on their home field.

“We oozin’ with confidence as well,” Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey said. “Don’t forget about who we are over here.”

It’s impossible to forget. The entire Earth understands the Rams should win the Super Bowl on Sunday.

And I’m rooting for the Bengals, anyway.

This is not just because I’m a sentimental sap who roots for Hail Mary completions and longshot surprises. It’s just that, well, the Bengals are so much more likeable.

(Yes, the Rams are likeable, too, although a week in L.A. has educated me to the idea that this is still kind of a Raiders town and the Rams have a lot of work to do before they win everyone here over.)

I’m merely saying the Bengals are the more charming, engaging, regular-folk kind of team.


Let’s begin with ownership:

The Rams are owned by Stan Kroenke who got rich early on by marrying a Wal-Mart heiress and then multiplied his fortune through real estate. He owns through his own name, his Kroenke Sports and Entertainment firm or under his wife’s name, the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, Arsenal F.C. of the Premier League, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, the Rams and other teams.

The Missouri native, a billionaire 10 times over, was the one who moved the Rams out of St. Louis and back to Los Angeles

The Bengals are owned by Mike Brown, whose father founded the team in 1968. Brown is rich, yes, but not a billionaire.

The Bengals have the smallest personnel department in the NFL with only eight people in the department and just six full-time scouts. By comparison, the Rams have 26 people in the player personnel department.

This is already starting to feel like Samson versus a horde of Philistines.

Then we move on to the Bengals’ lack of organizational ego. It borders at times on a little self deprecation.

Earlier this year the public relations department and the organization as a whole were torched for not having a legitimate lectern or podium set up for coaches and players to stand behind during a press conference.

Someone rolled in a cart instead.

It looked utterly amateurish but instead of being defensive about the miscue, the Bengals answered with humor instead. They turned the cart into a celebrity.

And it’s worked.

The Bengals’ roster is similarly filled with some pretty cool people and characters.

(Again, that’s not to say the Rams’ roster doesn’t have cool people. Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth is the Walter Payton Man of the Year, for example, and Aaron Donald, Eric Weddle and Von Miller are absolute gems as people).

But Joe Burrow is tons of fun to watch.

All Burrow has done the past two or three years is win. He won the Heisman Trophy in 2020, then won the National Championship at LSU. He’s won the AFC Championship and now he has a chance to win the Super Bowl.

After all these major victories, that’s often him dancing with his teammates, or lighting up a victory cigar, or wearing some outfits that are Joe Namath throwbacks to press conferences.

His teammates love the guy and players around the league are noticing.

“I kind of like this young buck quarterback. He’s in the Super Bowl now: It’s Joe Burrow, man,” soon-to-be free agent tight end Rob Gronkowski recently told “I watched him in college. I just love the way he presents himself out on the football field. In the pocket he’s just so calm and he just slings it out on the field.

“I just love his swag, too. If I had to pick a quarterback it’d be the young buck Joe Burrow. “He’s killing it right now in the game.”

This is what Bengals star receiver Ja’Marr Chase, the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year, said this week about Burrow:

“I can’t ask nothing more from Joe,” Chase said. “I do whatever he tells me to do because, man, he’s like God to me, you understand what I’m saying?”

You might think that says a lot about Burrow’s standing with an emerging star receiver. I believe it says something about the emerging star receiver as well because there is absolutely no diva about him found in that statement.

When Chase was drafted by the Bengals in 2021 he knew exactly where he wanted to live. He went to Burrow’s house, then basically went door-to-door, asking the quarterback’s neighbors if they’d be interested in selling him their home.

And it worked. The two men are neighbors now.

There’s more. The Bengals are a team that has revived the careers of multiple players who failed or were no longer wanted elsewhere.

Cornerback Eli Apple has been a bust with three NFL teams — the Giants, Saints, and Panthers. But Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo saw Apple’s ability and a way to use it that others didn’t.

So Apple has not only started all but one game this season but his confidence is so high he’s reportedly begged Anarumo to cover Odell Beckham man-to-man because he knows his moves from their shared time with the Giants.

“It’s been a long journey with trials and tribulations,” Apple said. “I’m around great people now and all the hard work I put in is paying off.”

Confidence is good. And with the Bengals even the kicker has it with room to spare.

Evan McPherson’s nicknames are “Money Mac” and “Shooter.” And he’s talked this week about how he thinks like a sniper when he’s kicking because, “one shot, one kill, one opportunity, one kick.”

McPherson this postseason has connected on all 12 of his kicks, including game winners against the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs.

After the Titans’ win, Burrow shared a brief conversation he had with McPherson after a 19-yard pass in the final seconds got Cincinnati within a 52-yard field goal of the victory.

“He said,” Burrow recounted, “well, looks like we’re going to the AFC championship game.”

Love these guys.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero


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  1. I have to pull for the Who Deys? to win their first ring, and I think they have that “something special mojo” going on. Still, even if they lost, seeing Stafford win a ring after spending years in football purgatory in Detroit would also be great to see. Either way I’m eating a lot of chicken wings. Let’s get it on!

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