The NFL world is knocking on the door of Super Bowl LVI, which will feature the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals duking it out for the chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. If you’re anything like me, you’ve essentially been counting down the seconds leading up to the Super Bowl ever since Championship Sunday. I’ll even admit that I subjected myself to watching a flag football competition — otherwise known as the Pro Bowl — just to get my football fix. While we all still need to wait a few more days before this game actually kicks off, I do have the next best thing for you fine folks that’ll hopefully hold you over until Sunday — our CBS Sports sImulation of Super Bowl LVI! We sparked up Madden NFL 22, set up this Super Bowl matchup, and kicked back to see how the virtual action would unfold. And if you’re a fan of the Rams, you’ll likely be happy with what unfolded. If you root for the Bengals, just remember that it’s just a video game that did happen to predict the Buccaneers victory last year. The Rams were able to win their second Super Bowl title in franchise history and first since the move back to Los Angeles in rather dominating fashion, taking down the Bengals, 38-20. That score also doesn’t do justice to the first half shellacking that L.A. handed down en-route to a title.
After a quiet couple of series to begin the game by both clubs, the Rams got the scoring going in a pretty controversial way. On a third-and-12 situation from the Cincinnati 34-yard line, Matthew Stafford uncorked a deep ball to Van Jefferson on the left side of the end zone. Originally, the officials ruled that he was out of bounds, but a challenge by Sean McVay led to a reversal and the Rams going up, 7-0. In full transparency, it didn’t look like Jefferson got two feet in bounds, but the virtual officials felt otherwise upon further review (Maybe video games have become more realistic!). The Bengals did answer that touchdown drive by the Rams with a score of their own as Joe Burrow completed a pass to Tee Higgins to knot the game at seven, but L.A. quickly matched that score by driving down the field and Odell Beckham Jr. scoring a 7-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-7. It was at this point in the game that the Bengals started to get left in the dust.
The Cincinnati offense took the field following that Beckham touchdown and found itself in a third-and-9 situation from their 24-yard line. After rolling out to his right, Burrow was sacked by Leonard Floyd and the football came loose. Aaron Donald scooped it up and was able to rush it in for the touchdown to put the Rams up 21-7. Later in the second quarter, running back Cam Akers would cap off another touchdown drive for L.A. that would extend their lead to three scores. To their credit, the Bengals did show some fight in the first half even amid that scoring barrage by the Rams. They were able to find the end zone with just 50 seconds left before halftime to cut the deficit to 14 after Burrow connected with Tyler Boyd. However, in a similar vein to the Chiefs forcing overtime against Buffalo with 13 seconds left in regulation of the divisional round, the Rams were on the verge of a similar gut-punch. On the first play following that Bengals score and 46 seconds on the clock, Stafford completed a 73-yard touchdown to Jefferson to further give L.A. what proved to be an insurmountable lead.
Over the second half, the Rams milked the clock with the ground game while the Bengals offense stalled out and ultimately settled for some questionable field goals attempts and eventually brought us to a 38-20 final in favor of Los Angeles, who become the second team in Super Bowl history to win the big game at their home stadium. Aaron Donald was named Super Bowl MVP after a dominating performance. The star defensive lineman finished with 13 total tackles (four tackles for a loss) and that fumble recovery for a touchdown. Pretty much from wire-to-wire, this was a dominating game by the Rams, which they would certainly love to replicate in the actual game. Of course, that’ll be easier said than done as the Bengals will likely feature star receiver, Ja’Marr Chase, to a much higher degree than their video-game counterparts did as he didn’t record his first catch until midway through the third quarter.
In any event, if the actual Super Bowl is anything close to what our Madden simulation showed us, we’ll be in for an entertaining night.