• Here They Are: Pigskin Pundit’s Pre-Game Analysis, Picks: Super Bowl 2022

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    Surge Summary: Analysis of both championship-worthy teams from Pigskin Pundit … and his Pick for the winner of Super Bowl 2022.

    by Pigskin Pundit (Nate Clark)

    Super Sunday is upon us, and the road that has brought us the Rams vs. the Bengals has been convoluted and unpredictable all season.  This game will be no less hard to predict, as each of these teams very much deserves to be here.

    I hate to draw attention away from the greatest sports spectacle of the year, but the NFL has been so feckless in recent weeks (and years) at the executive and ownership level that they richly deserve having their biggest showcase significantly overshadowed by the poisoned fruits of their indefensible arrogance, stupidity and appalling bad judgment.  There’s no softer way to state it.

    The Brian Flores lawsuit is going to expose things about this league that are very unbecoming, bringing to light the character deficiencies and hypocrisy of the owners and their true lack of concern over their own racial biases making a mockery of the meaning and intent of the Rooney Rule, and indifference to CTE and general player welfare.  Money trumps morality.

    The Deflategate bomb released by Mike Florio this week reignites the whole sordid example of league corruption and ham-fisted coverup (Troy Vincent, Jeff Pash, Roger Goodell) combined with an idiotic failure to grasp basic 7th grade science.  More disturbingly, it demonstrates a willingness to lynch the reputation of the league’s greatest-ever player without any presented evidence, and then to BURY the actual scientific evidence gathered by their own late research because it contradicts the conclusions they jumped to previously.  The Patriots are owed a first-round draft pick, one million dollars, and an open and defenseless apology to Tom Brady for screwing him out of four games in the prime of his career and besmirching him as a cheater forever.

    Add to that the ridiculously vague rules of contact that generate bad, game-changing calls from mediocre officiating, and the sanctimonious kowtowing to ‘social justice’ causes and the inconsistent ‘enforcement’ of random Covid regulations, and we really see that the emperor has no clothes…or brains…or character.  This league is owed a vicious bashing by its fans, and perhaps a healthy dose of government policing (Daniel Snyder), since we can’t expect the perpetrators to tidy up their own den of iniquity.  The only thing having billions of dollars does is give these people a bigger stage from which to display their shameful moral, intellectual and character failings.  This is further exemplified by the thugs (Vincent, Pash) and toadies (Goodell) they hire to do their dirty work for them and take the heat.

    Wow, had to get that out of the way.  Here’s the pick.

    Offense
    The Rams narrowly escaped the 49ers, because the INT we knew Matt Stafford was going to throw at a critical juncture was dropped by Tartt, when the ball hit him squarely in the numbers, head on.  Missed opportunities like that decide big games.  My point is, Stafford threw the bad pick.  Akers and Michel are okay in the running game, but haven’t ignited anything this season.  Kupp is exactly what his numbers and awards say he is, and Beckham makes both of them better.  I don’t believe Tyler Higbee will see the field, as his knee injury looked serious, so there’s one less outlet/slot guy to cover for those critical 3rd downs.

    The Bengals are all about offense, with Burrow drilling passes to his multiple threats. Chase had a storied rookie season, finding ways to lose his coverage when it matters most, and then using breakaway speed to get extra gains.  Tee Higgins is like OBJ, as a second #1 to give corners and safeties fits.  He’s deadly across the middle about 25 yards out.  Then you have Tyler Boyd, who is due for a big game, especially with the other two getting all the attention.  Joe Mixon has been okay, not great, in the last three games, but he may be key in neutralizing Donald’s dominance by running at that ferocious pass rush.  Not to mention as an outlet pass catcher, which he is very good at.  Burrow took NINE sacks in Tennessee and still throttled the AFC’s top seed. Stafford gets rattled and his QB rating drops dangerously when he takes a few sacks …and he will.  Edge: Cincinnati.

    Defense
    The Rams have the most intimidating pass rush in the league, which factors as large as any aspect in this matchup.  Cincy’s O-line is softer than Charmin at times, which is why Big Throw Joe missed half his rookie season.  If LA is able to sustain that kind of pressure for 60 minutes, they can make any QB doubt his vocational choice.  Jalen Ramsey is elite…but he can still be had, and an elusive guy like Chase is going to have his chances.  Burrow is going to be watching for and exploiting those chances.  Trey ‘Dark’ Hendrickson (ask your flyfishing buddies) and Sam ‘Old Mother’ Hubbard have been bringing heat of their own to opposing passers, LB Logan ‘Wolverine’ Wilson has clamped the middle shut and the no-pass combo of Bates & Bell have made the downfield area of Cincy a tough place to find space.  Edge: Rams. 

    Special Teams
    Both kickers have proven to be lights out.  McFearless is exactly that, and his accuracy and distance are excellent.  Ditto for Pro Bowler Matt Gay.  Whichever guy kicks last will likely decide the outcome.  Edge: Even money.

    Coaching
    McVay has shown that he and his staff are capable of putting the talent they have in advantageous positions time and again.  Their schemes to maximize Kupp’s ability to find open field have been stellar all season.  Their use of the running game could be better.  Zac Taylor has shown an ability to keep his team focused in tough games, and he has been resourceful in making in-game adjustments, rather than getting stuck on one plan.  He has been willing to turn Borrow loose, which is how Joe plays best.  Edge: Cincinnati.

    Experience
    The Rams own this category.  Von Miller has a ring, Aaron Donald, Kupp, and a bunch of the other Rams have been to a Super Bowl, including McVay, while Cincinnati is straight out of nowhere, the definition of Cinderella.  New coach, new team, new everything.  Edge: Rams.

    Intangibles
    Cincy has gone on the road to beat the AFC top seed, and then staged a come-from-behind win against the ‘best team in the league’ Chiefs in the hardest place to win, so home field isn’t going to help the Rams.  The Rams don’t have home field advantage anyway, because they were gone from LA for 21 years and have only been returned in 2016, not to mention that LA sports fans are among the worst and least committed in pro sports.  Pressure is all on LA, because they are home, have been here before recently and lost, and have bet the farm and all the livestock for years to come on THIS moment in time.  Cincinnati is playing with house money, and they have already shocked the league with their resilience and resourcefulness.  In my opinion Kansas City beat themselves by getting too cute at the end, but it was Cincy’s red zone defense that put them in that position, and Cincy DIDN’T screw it up when they had the chance to win (Buffalo…cough cough).  At the end of all this calculating, I still think Cooper Kupp will find one small window of opportunity with which to make the game’s biggest reception, whether TD, big gain or crucial first down.  San Francisco has a very good defense, but showed that 5 seconds of lapsed coverage out of 60 minutes is all it takes for Kupp to make a game-changing play.  That and the Rams murderous rush cause me to favor my head over my heart.

    The Super Bowl turns Blue & Gold, as the Rams edge out a tenacious Bengal team.

    Thanks for sticking with me this season.  Enjoy the big game!

    -PP

    The views here are those of the author and not necessarily Daily Surge

    Image: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/; Erik Drost; https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrost88/11282338723

    Nathan Clark is a conservative commentator who resides with his wife in New Hampshire. He is passionate about preserving the vision of our nation’s Founders and advancing those tried and true principles deep into America’s future. His interests range broadly from flyfishing, cooking and shooting to pro sports, gardening, live music and fine-scale modeling.


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