Around the NFL: America's Team, Different Paths, Why Did Super Bowl Logos Get So Boring? NFL Awards, More

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Around the NFL: America’s Team, Different Paths, Why Did Super Bowl Logos Get So Boring? NFL Awards, More

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We’re just days away from the most remarkable sporting event of the year, the Super Bowl! Today’s installment of ATNFL is Super Bowl heavy, with plenty to take with you and read in the days leading up to the big game on Sunday.

America’s Team, Who Dey?

Everybody loves an underdog, especially those whose favorite team missed the playoffs. The Cincinnati Bengals are that underdog. They’ve been the underdog all season and throughout the playoffs, and they’ll be the same this Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. So, are the Bengals America’s team this weekend? Pat McAfee certainly thinks so.

And why not, right? The Cincinnati Bengals aren’t a team built through exorbitant amounts of money spent in free agency. They’re not a team built through shrewd maneuvering in the trade market. They’re a team that was 2-14 just two years ago and came into the season pegged to finish last in an always competitive AFC North division. They’re led by a quarterback who was deemed not good enough to start at Ohio State but proved everyone wrong when he threw for 5,6oo-plus yeards and 60 touchdowns at LSU, and place where he orchestrated an undefeated season and a CFB National Championship for the Tigers.

Joe Burrow and the Bengals are the unlikely heroes that we all needed this year, a true underdog that anyone outside of Los Angeles can get behind and root for. You couldn’t buy a Joe Burrow jersey right now if you wanted to. They’re gone. Sold out everywhere. That was such the case just hours after the Bengals upended the Kansas City Cheif’s quest for a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance in the AFC Championship game.

The Athletic’s Jon Greenberg and Brody Miller spent last week talking to those closest to Burrow to put together a terrific must-read leading up to the Super Bowl on everyone’s new favorite signal-caller.

Once again, the Cincinnati Bengals will play the role of their underdogs this Sunday, but while Vegas doesn’t see the Bengals as the eventual champions, there’s a massive segment of football fandom that will be behind Joe Burrow and the Bengals as they try to shock the world again. Burrow and the Bengals ride to Super Bowl LVI reminds me a lot of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots run to Super Bowl XXXVI twenty years ago, regarding how the football world rallied around the underdogs and a polarizing new quarterback. Not lost on me is the irony that Tom Brady and the Patriots had to beat the heavily favored Rams in the Super Bowl to complete their all-time excellent underdog story, just as Burrow and the Bengals will have to in a few days.

A Different Way of Doing Things

As I eluded to already, the Los Angeles Rams took a very different path to Super Bowl LVI than the Cincinnati Bengals. The Rams have been built through high-profile signings and an ultra-aggressive approach to the trade market by GM Les Snead.

Rams stars like Matthew Stafford, Odell Beckham Jr., Von Miller, and Jalen Ramsey arrived in Los Angeles via trades. Les Snead traded their 2016 1st-round pick, two 2016 2nd-round picks, a 2016 3rd-round pick, a 2017 1st-round pick, and a 2017 3rd-round pick to trade up and draft Jared Goff in 2016. Jared Goff is now in Detroit because while the Rams got close, they didn’t win it all. Les Snead and Sean McVay targeted Matthew Stafford to answer that problem, so they sent Goff, a 2022 1st-round pick, a 2023 1st-round pick, and a 2021 3rd-round pick to the Lions for Matthew Stafford.

That’s a total of four first-rounders, three third-rounders, and a pair of second-round draft picks (plus Goff) invested in getting the QB position right in the last five years. Say what you will, but the Rams are not afraid to identify their target and do whatever it takes to get it.

In the past five years, the Rams have traded seven first-rounders, four third-rounders, three second-rounders, a fourth, and a sixth on Jared Goff, Brandin Cooks, Jalen Ramsey, Von Miller, and Matthew Stafford.

The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue penned a great story on the Rams’ rise to Super Bowl LVI that, again, is a must-read before kickoff on Sunday:

Again, say what you will about the Rams’ disregard for cash and draft picks; they’re making their second Super Bowl appearance in the last four seasons under the direction of Sean McVay and Les Snead.

PFF’s 40 Facts for Super Bowl LVI

Whether you’re looking to win some money on Sunday, or you just want to soak in all the background you can before kickoff, Pro Football Focus put together a can’t miss post packed with information on the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams that you’ll want to add to your reading list this weekend.

Comeback Player of the Year?

From torn ACL to AFC Champion, that’s the last year-plus for Bengals’ QB Joe Burrow. Will it be enough to be named the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year tonight? Keegan-Michael Key will host the 11th edition of NFL Honors, which will air live nationally on ABC at 9 p.m. ET from YouTube Theater in Los Angeles. The annual event features the announcement of The Associated Press awards and the newest class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Speaking of Super Bowl participants who might hear their name called tonight …

Extra Points …

•   We’ll find out tonight who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Chicago Bears fans will be waiting anxiously this afternoon to see if Devin Hester gets his name called on his first time on the ballot. Adam Hoge outlined the (easy) case for the greatest kick returner of all time:

•   Jonathan Taylor and Cooper Kupp both won some folks their fantasy football league’s this season as they both put on a show all year. Who’s got the edge for the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year?

•   A sight for sore eyes if you’re with me in the opinion that the Super Bowl logos have stunk the last decade or so:

•   I mean, seriously, look at some of these gems:

•   This is probably the greatest Gridiron Heights that B/R has ever made 😂:

•   Let me tell you something, my kids are about to learn a few things about their parents during the halftime show!

•   If you were a fan of the ManningCasts this season, you’re in luck as they will be back next season and through the 2024 season, according to Adam Schefter:

•   I love statistical symmetry:

•   I’ll leave you today with this. Have a laugh, and enjoy the Super Bowl!

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.