Don’t be fooled, the Cincinnati Bengals are still the underdog

Cincinnati Bengals' quarterback Joe Burrow speaks during a media availabilty at UCLA ahead of Super Bowl LVI against the Los Angeles Rams in Los Angeles, California on February 11, 2022. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals' quarterback Joe Burrow speaks during a media availabilty at UCLA ahead of Super Bowl LVI against the Los Angeles Rams in Los Angeles, California on February 11, 2022. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images) /

While the Cincinnati Bengals have received an endless barrage of coverage at the Super Bowl, they are still underdogs heading into their bout with the Rams. 

Throughout these last two weeks, the Cincinnati Bengals have experienced the type of coverage that they haven’t seen in over 30 years. Maybe because they are in the Super Bowl for the third time in their franchises’ long history? Also, because they still are looking for their first-ever title?

Specifically, the coverage around quarterback Joe Burrow and his style and bravado are worthy of being heavily mentioned in the press. It has been received positively by some. For others, however, it seems a bit too much. So much so that several Los Angeles Rams fans, including award-winning Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke, are resigning to believe that L.A. will “dominate” on Sunday.

Plaschke penned two columns throughout the last few weeks. One cited that L.A. “dodged a bullet” by facing Cincinnati instead of Kansas City. It’s a column, so taking one side is understandable. However, another column emerged on Saturday, citing “foolproof evidence” that Cincinnati would lose to Los Angeles.

"” The Rams have the bigger swing. The Rams have the stronger jab. The Rams areheavyweights. The Bengals are not. Quite simply and rather quickly, the Rams are going to knock them out. Rams 38, Bengals 10. All the hype this week has been about the Bengals’ cool quarterback Joe Burrow and hot receiver Ja’Marr Chase and a surprisingly stifling defense. All the trendy narratives have the Bengals making every big play, peaking at the right time, a teamof destiny.”"

All the hype this week? Not exactly. Yes, Burrow has taken a lot of headlines for how he brought the Cincinnati Bengals, a franchise that has a history of falling apart at the wrong time, to one win from a dream that so many fans in Queen City have been only dreaming about. But what was neglected to be mentioned was how Los Angeles was a 3.5 point favorite to start the game before the spread went up to 4.5.

Plaschke isn’t alone in his assessment, at least not when it comes to whom he believes will win. On Friday, various networks and television shows gave their predictions. Shows like First Things First, Undisputed, The Herd, Speak for Yourself, Keyshawn, JWill & Max, First Take, Get Up, and NFL Live. Again, this is a sample size.

By looking at just this sample size alone and focusing strictly on the members on the Friday edition, a shade of over 70% is picking Los Angeles to win. So much for headlines, right? Just ask USA Today, who polled seven of their most prominent writers, excellent writers, by the way, and asked them who they are picking to win. All seven chose Los Angeles. Think otherwise? Take a look at this Bengals fan’s tweet that has the graphic.

FanDuel reported their findings on February 8th and found Los Angeles as a big favorite. Additionally, ESPN polled over 70 individuals, 76 to be exact, and saw 43 Rams victories and 33 Bengals victories. Just over 56%. A pretty close margin in this regard, but still a clear winner.

Headlines tell one story, but the Cincinnati Bengals are still the underdogs, whether accepted or not

Here’s the reality of the situation. It’s not about what the polls say or what players take the field, or even who people believe will win the game. It’s about coming out and showing whether or not you are the best team and what you do at that moment. The pregame talk may have an effect to some degree, but it’s not the main story.

The story is also not just about the game. It’s about the fans and how passionate they are to support their team. Recently, Cincinnati’s NBC affiliate WLWT posted a story about how a Bengals fan printed 800+ T-shirts with pictures of fans who passed away without seeing a title. They were brought to Los Angeles for the big event on Sunday.

Sure, the city is not necessarily among the country’s wealthiest areas, but there is a passion that may not appeal to those who prefer glitz and glamour. It appeals to others who can relate to what they are going through. Watching their favorite team win for a family member or friend who did not live long enough to see it come to fruition. Just think of how it would feel for the city.

Overall, Burrow may get the headlines, and so be it. The guy has proven he can win, and yes, he has done well this year. But he’s still not favored to win the Super Bowl. The odds show it, as do the issues with the offensive line of Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Bengals weren’t even supposed to be here, and it’s their first trip in almost three decades. Apparently, Kansas City was a better option, but they didn’t make it, so it’s Cincinnati instead.

You can’t say “act like you’ve been there before” because they haven’t. The Rams have a great team, a great arsenal, a great stadium, great fans, and a heavy barrage of supporters of those who cover the game. The Bengals? They are still an underdog, and it’ll always be that way regardless of what coverage appears to show. They can change it if they win. Again, IF they win.