This Sunday, the “David vs. Goliath” matchup we’ve been waiting for will hit TVs all across America.
No, we’re not talking about the head-to-head battles on Big Brother.
We’re talking about the Super Bowl LVI here, people!
We’ve got two fired-up teams, the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals, ready to claim the Lombardi trophy, but who’s going to come out on top?
In today’s blog, we’ll give you our unbiased opinion based upon the teams’ competitive advantages and our Super Bowl LVI competitive battlecards. Let’s dig in!
1. Season overview
Now, it’s important to start this blog off by pointing out the obvious–not many people expected the Rams and the Bengals to make it all the way to the super bowl.
Sure, both teams have solid competitive advantages, like Aaron Donald at defensive tackle for the Rams and Ja’Marr Chase at wide receiver for the Bengals, but these teams were not expected to beat out opponents like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers.
Looking at stats from the NFL’s regular season, the Rams won 70% of their games and the Bengals won 58%. For perspective, both the Buccaneers and the Packers had the same win rate of 76%. While the Rams win rate wasn’t far off, there’s no denying that the Bengals shocked the nation when they claimed victory week after week in their post-season games.
Quite frankly, this year’s super bowl is unprecedented, and that just adds to the excitement.
While Sunday’s game is practically a toss-up with both teams competing at their best, it’s important to point out that this is the first time since 2002 that the super bowl will not feature Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, or the 49ers (we’re a Boston-based company–we couldn’t not plug our beloved and newly-retired Tom Brady). It’s also the second time in NFL history that a super bowl contender is playing in their home stadium.
With that said, the winner isn’t an obvious one. That’s why we created battlecards to guide us in predicting a winner. Let’s dig in!
Imagine playing your first super bowl at your home field. Despite all of the pressure, you’re able to take your same drive to the stadium from your house, lace up your cleats in front of your personal locker, and watch your biggest fans settle into your stadium to cheer you on. There’s no doubt that familiarity and comfortability can be a huge bonus when faced with high-pressure games, and the Rams have that on their side this year.
The Rams also have the top pass rush in the league, known for their ability to get into the backfield. Outside linebacker, Von Miller, amassed more than 100 career sacks in regular season play and 7 1/2 in the playoffs alone.
This strength may prove daunting for the Bengals quarterback, Joe Burrow, as his offensive line consistently struggles with allowing sacks.
While the Rams strong pass rush may lead them to the gold, they may run into struggles with their offensive line and quarterback, Matt Stafford.
Stafford led the league in interceptions this year–you don’t see stats like that often for a super bowl quarterback. These consistent interceptions have led to many turnovers for the Rams. The Rams offense must hold off the Bengals long enough to give Stafford ample time in the pocket to execute.
While the Rams are known for their lineup of veterans, a total of nine players showed up on their weekly injury list for their super bowl matchup. One player in particular that stands out is tight end, Tyler Higbee, who’s out with a sprained MCL. Coach Sean McVay is worried, referring to Higbee as “one of those glue guys” and “a big part of this team.” Fingers crossed that Tyler can pull through for Sunday’s game–we know all Rams fans are rooting for him.
Also, this is Stafford’s first super bowl and his first time progressing through the first round of playoffs. When you compare him to someone like Tom Brady, there’s a clear level of inexperience. This achievement is huge for his career, but will he crack under pressure? Only time will tell.
How We Win:
Now, here’s how the Rams win.
First, the turnovers need to stop. Stafford needs to stay focused and keep his eyes scanning the field, ready to run with the ball if needed. There's no room for silly mistakes, or it’s a surefire way to lose the game.
Secondly, the Rams need to dismantle the Bengals offense early. The Bengals seem to always make a comeback in the second half. The Rams better get ahead from the get-go and keep their foot on the gas to break that comeback cadence.
I think we can all agree there’s something special about rooting for the underdog–that sense of accomplishment you know they feel and the way their storyline matches up with every sports movie … ever. The underdog mentality adds that extra bit of motivation and grit for the Bengals that could help them drive home the win. Burrow’s confidence is growing after beating the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship, and he recently said, “We beat, in my opinion, the second best team in the AFC twice in January. I think if we didn’t prove it today, I don’t know how else you prove it.”
Adding to the underdog mentality and the storyline we’re all familiar with is the Bengals strong record of late-game comebacks. They’re the team that’s consistently down in the dumps in the first half and then ramps it up in the second half to either win the game or bring it into overtime. At the Bengals last game against the Chiefs, they headed into the locker room at halftime with a losing score of 21-3. Somehow, they managed to tie up the game and win in overtime. If that happens on Sunday, it’ll be a monumental moment for the Bengals and all NFL fans.
The Bengals offensive line allowed the most sacks this year of all NFL teams. In the AFC Divisional Round game against the Tennessee Titans, Burrow made history–in a bad way. He was sacked nine times, tying Warren Moon and Len Dawson for the most sacks taken among quarterbacks in a single playoff game. Burrow, and the whole offensive line, better keep a close eye and improve this for Sunday, or they might end up the loser with the Rams defense plowing right through them.
This has a lot to do with their other shortcoming–the Bengals are a very novice team overall. They have some stars like Ja’Marr Chase and Logan Wilson, but they have a lot to prove and are young. That motivation may just lead them to victory.
The biggest landmines come from quarterback inexperience. There’s no denying that Burrow has crushed it so far in his career, but he has only been in the NFL for two years–with his first year cut short due to a torn ACL.
Comparing him to veterans like Stafford, with 13 NFL seasons, it’s hard to ignore he’s still considered a “sophomore” in the league. This is also Burrow’s first super bowl. Let’s hope his nerves don’t get the best of him.
How We Win:
To claim the Lombardi trophy, it’s all about momentum for the Bengals. They’ve got to continue their defensive momentum from the AFC championship to stop Stafford from getting the ball over to key players like Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp.
The Bengals also must provide Burrow with more time in the pocket and not let sacks dominate the flow of the game. They’ve got to keep moving the ball down the field and by giving Burrow more time to develop a play, they might just give themselves a strong lead from the get-go rather than bank on the second half.
Sunday’s game will be a true battle in the trenches. Experience-wise, the Rams are leading. Momentum-wise, the Bengals are. It’s a toss-up, but based upon our battlecards, the teams’ win rates, and their competitive advantages, it appears that the Rams might take the cake. They are a more consistent team with stars who are no stranger to the big stage.
But, not all agree with this prediction. Crayon put out a poll on social media asking for opinions on who will claim victory. The unanimous answer was for the Bengals! We had over 130 respondents, and 55% went with the Bengals, 32% chose the Rams, and 13% said they only watch for the halftime show.
This is the fun of football. Sunday will be a true head-to-head battle with no obvious winner going into it. The Rams and the Bengals better get their Gatorade ready–Sunday will be a game that goes down in history.
Keep eyes on your competitors’ movements to get ahead
There are quite a few parallels between B2B companies and football. To see success, you must have a deep understanding of your rivals’ strengths and weaknesses to get ahead, differentiate, and win. Plus, both B2B companies and super bowl contenders want to compete like they mean it, right?
If you liked our Super Bowl LVI battlecards, we've got some awesome, free battlecard templates you can download. Or, if you're looking for a battlecard step-by-step guide, be sure to click the banner below. These resources will help you claim victory in 2022!
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