In a rare occurrence, Super Bowl LVI won't feature any of the top three seeds in the AFC or NFC. Instead, the No. 4 seed Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals will battle for the Lombardi Trophy. Such a surprising matchup deserves equally bold Super Bowl predictions.
All of the major storylines have been laid out. Matthew Stafford's redemption. The Bengals' susceptible offensive line. Joe Burrow's swag. But what are some outcomes you might not see coming?
Here are our 2022 Super Bowl bold predictions from our team of betting experts:
Top 2022 Super Bowl Bold Predictions
SEE ALSO: 2022 Super Bowl Expert Betting Picks
2022 Super Bowl Bold Predictions
Rams win by 10-plus points (-9.5 alt spread at +185 via DraftKings)
Listen, I love Joe Burrow, but I must bet against the cool guy here.
This is one of the most significant mismatches in recent Super Bowl history. Lost in the Cincinnati Bengals love affair is that the Los Angeles Rams are the superior team. The Rams rank in the top 10 in total offense, defense, and special teams, per Football Outsiders' DVOA rankings. The Bengals rank in the league's bottom half offensively (18th) and defensively (19th) per the same metrics.
In their Divisional Round game against the Tennessee Titans, the Bengals offensive line gave up nine sacks. Now they face a Rams pass rush that ranked seventh in sacks per game and the duo of Aaron Donald and Von Miller. Not ideal.
The Bengals faced one of the softest schedules of opposing defenses this season - now they square off against this Rams defense that graded out as the best in the league, according to PFF.
The Bengals' Cinderella story has been remarkable, but it's going to be a long day for Burrow and his teammates.
I assume next time I'm in Cincinnati, someone will dump a can of Skyline Chili on my head for this take, but I expect the Rams to win big. - Anderson
Kicker Will Win MVP Award for 1st Time
The Super Bowl MVP is a quarterbacks award for the most part, just like it is in the regular season. Thus, the Rams' Matthew Stafford is the -105 favorite for Super Bowl 56 against Joe Burrow (+220) and the Bengals. It's the first Super Bowl appearance for both and just the second time that quarterbacks chosen No. 1 overall in the draft have met in the big game.
Three position groups have never won Super Bowl MVP: Offensive line, tight end, and kicker/punter. There's no chance a punter ever wins the award, but I'm here to predict that one of the two kickers will. The odds for Cincinnati's Evan McPherson are at +15000 at DraftKings and +20000 for Los Angeles' Matt Gay.
McPherson is a rookie fifth-round pick out of Florida who already might be the second most-popular player on his team. He had a handful of game-winning kicks in the regular season and is 12-for-12 on field goals - 4-for-4 in each game - with two walk-off winners in the playoffs. The record for most field goals made in a postseason is 14 by Adam Vinatieri. If McPherson wins Super Bowl 56 on a late kick and breaks that record, he absolutely can win this award.
It will be tougher for Gay, who is 7-for-9 on field goals in these playoffs and had the walk-off winner in the Divisional Round against the Bucs. The Super Bowl MVP is largely a popularity award and Gay doesn't really have McPherson's profile, but that doesn't make it impossible for him to win this. We clearly will need a lower-scoring game, like the last time the Rams were in the Super Bowl, otherwise one of the quarterbacks will probably take home this award.
I haven't seen a DraftKings prop yet betting the MVP simply by his position (it should be up this week), but that would obviously be the best value play because then you don't have to worry about picking the right winning team/kicker. - Jordan
Odell Beckham Jr. to Win Super Bowl MVP (+2800 via DraftKings)
Wide receivers have won MVP seven times, most recently Julian Edelman just three years ago. Prior to that, Santonio Holmes won it in Super Bowl XLIII and Hines Ward in Super Bowl XL. All three players had at least 131 receiving yards and/or a touchdown. That is exactly the type of line that Odell Beckham can produce to win this game.
Most of the passing game attention appropriately goes to Los Angeles star wideout Cooper Kupp, who could very well be the Offensive Player of the Year. While he has erupted the last two playoff games, it is certainly reasonable to think the Bengals will focus their defensive attention on stopping Kupp. When looking at his +400 odds, it's an easy pivot to go to Beckham at over six times the odds.
Beckham has seen an increase in receptions and receiving yards in three straight playoff games, and has seen a 90% or higher snap share in four of the last six contests. The Rams running backs have failed to distinguish themselves in the postseason, especially with Cam Akers' fumbling issues.
There is a chasm of a difference between the Bengals' defensive efficiency against the run and pass. Cincinnati ranked 13th in run defense DVOA, per FootballOutsiders, and allowed the 10th fewest rushing yards to opposing running backs this season. Backing Beckham as the Super Bowl MVP has nice correlation value with the necessary offensive success for a Rams Super Bowl victory.
I love this bet as a long-shot play that actually has a reasonable path to pay off at +2800. - Randle
Where to Bet on Super Bowl Player Props
Here are our top-rated sportsbooks for betting on the 2022 Super Bowl: