A Bengals vs Rams line would have been very different than the Super Bowl at the start of this season.
While we know the Bengals vs Rams line now, we can also look back and see how market perception of these teams has evolved. What would a Bengals vs Rams line have been in Week 1? In the middle of the season? At the start of the playoffs?
Using estimated market power ratings, we can provide an answer to these questions.
How The Bengals vs Rams Line Would Have Looked At Different Times
If you aren’t familiar with estimated market power ratings, refer to this article. The gist of it is that using betting lines, we can estimate how the market perceives each team relative to every other, not just the one they are playing that week.
Since the betting market reflects values of all prediction models, it’s an extremely powerful way to judge relative team strength, much more so than any analytical metric or a team’s record.
It’s an inexact science, sure, but it’s as good as you’ll find in a probabilistic world.
Here’s what the market says about the Bengals-Rams spread on a neutral field:
|Week 1||Week 11||Start of Playoffs||Actual Spread|
|Rams -8||Rams -4||Rams -4||Rams|
We noted in the midseason power ratings article that the Bengals were one of the most upgraded teams relative to their preseason numbers. The market bumped them higher than every team besides the Cowboys. Even coming off back-to-back losses, it was clear Cincinnati had a solid football team, playing competently on both sides of the ball.
Meanwhile, the Rams had just gotten pasted in back-to-back nationally televised losses to the Titans and 49ers. Sitting 7-3, they were off to a slightly disappointing start given the magnitude of those losses to two of the stronger teams on their schedule.
Both teams finished the season 5-2 in games they tried to win, so it’s no surprise nothing really changed after that.
What might surprise, is what has happened since. While the Bengals have made a high-profile charge through the AFC, winning twice as decent-sized underdogs, the perceived difference between the teams hasn’t budged. Shouldn’t they have received even more of an upgrade?
Perhaps they have.
Don’t Forget About Home Field
For the second straight season, an unusual situation has occurred — how’s that for a paradox? — as a team has advanced to play in the Super Bowl in its home stadium. Last year’s Buccaneers took down the title on home turf. The Rams will attempt to do the same.
While home-field advantage in the Super Bowl doesn’t figure to make the same sort of difference it makes in the regular season due to the mechanics of ticket distribution, it should still help the Rams slightly. Sleeping in your own home, keeping your usual routine and not disrupting your circadian rhythms probably counts for something.
How much, exactly?
Well, BetMGM’s Christian Cipollini told TheLines that it’s likely worth about a point.
So, the market probably has the Rams closer to -3.5 or -3 against the Bengals now.
Should These Bengals-Rams Lines Affect Your Super Bowl Bets?
Do the Bengals deserve a half-point or more bump relative to the Rams based on the way these teams have played in the playoffs?
How you answer that question can inform some of your thought process on how to bet Super Bowl LVI. Of course, you have to consider factors like injuries, coaching, matchups and style of play as well. But, big picture, the market is telling you that despite beating the Chiefs and top-seeded Titans on the road, the Bengals have not impressed enough to earn a significant bump compared to the Rams.
Keep in mind that during this three-game stretch, the Bengals have been outgained in every single game by yards per play. That’s not typically a sustainable formula for success, and that stat weighs heavily in models projecting future performance. Such models, in turn, weigh heavily in creation of market prices.