The NFL is the largest entertainment conglomerate in the country, and it’s not close. Every year, when the ratings come out, there’s more evidence that even more people have watched, more money has been made, and as long as it owns our Sundays, it doesn’t appear that it will slow down any time soon. So, it’s fitting that this season, the longest and largest ever, ended in a fashion that epitomizes the entertainment capital of the United States: Los Angeles. From taking place in a James Cameron-esque billion dollar stadium, from having a completely west coast halftime show, to the seemingly endless amount of Crypto currency commercials (directly after the iconic Staples Center was renamed Arena), it was a storybook ending for the year to end with the star-laden Los Angeles Rams being crowned Super Bowl LVI Champions, beating the Bengals 23-20.

The actual game for the Rams could be summed up in two words: stars matter. Odell Beckham Jr. with his electrifying dyed hair and always-animated personality got off to a hot start from the beginning, grabbing a massive touchdown to go up right out of the gate, only to unfortunately go out for the rest of the game with an injury; it was his lack of star power that made the Rams offense look like it had a battery taken out of it- they had a total of 43 yards rushing, Matthew Stafford threw two interceptions, and they couldn’t get anything going on offense at all. 

So, what was the difference-maker? Their BIGGEST star, Cooper Kupp, stepped up when it mattered most. Coming off of a season where he won the triple crown (leading the league in receptions, yards, and touchdowns) and winning Offensive Player of the Year, the final drive of the game, Kupp had four receptions, a fourth-down run, and the game-winning touchdown to cap off a night where he had 8 catches, 92 yards, 2 touchdowns, and won Super Bowl MVP. 

Kupp and new-Ram Matthew Stafford apparently had breakfast together every morning this year to build their bond. Chemistry matters when building champions.

On the other side of the ball, the Rams’ defensive stars also made their big names felt- former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, who the Rams traded two picks to Denver for earlier in the year to get two months of, got two sacks on Joe Burrow. But the key to it all, Aaron Donald, who may be in the conversation now for the best defensive player ever, made the critical tackle on Samaje Perine and flung Joe Burrow to the ground on the final fourth down to win the game.

Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

While Stafford certainly didn’t have his best game by any means, they felt he was the missing piece to take them to the next level by trading Jared Goff and their remaining draft capital to go out and get a proven veteran, and he made enough plays that Goff might not have been able to make that was all the difference. 

As for the Bengals, while it was a heartbreaking end to what felt like a fairytale story, it was simply a case of reality catching up to them and the magic running out. The entire story of the game going in was whether or not Joe Burrow would survive behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL as they took on a team of stampeding caffeinated wildebeests on the Rams’ defensive front. To Joe’s credit, he is still with us, but barely: he was sacked 19 times this entire postseason and the most in a Super Bowl ever, 7 times. A weak offensive line has been the story of demise the last two seasons now, as the pressure Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes faced against Tampa Bay in 2021 was the story there as well. 

The Bengals had the opportunity to bolster their offensive line in the draft this year, and instead, Joe Burrow rallied the team around drafting Offensive Rookie of the Year and his favorite college receiver, Ja’Marr Chase. While the Bengals certainly wouldn’t have gotten to the Super Bowl without choosing to draft Chase, it just proved that they’re still a team in the midst of an unfinished rebuild. They now know that as long as they have Burrow, they have a seat at the table and can be considered a contender as much as anyone. For a team that won 6 games in the last 2 years to be an investment in an offensive line away from a Super Bowl is mightily impressive, and this incredibly young roster will be more motivated than ever to get back.

 After all the Rams gave up to go all-in on this season with their stars to avenge their 2019 Super Bowl loss, it was a star-studded gamble that paid off, and now the city of Los Angeles has seen a championship in all four major sports since 2014. The NFL wanted to go Hollywood, and they got their wish with this movie script.

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