America’s head and heart are on opposite sides when it comes to Super Bowl LVI between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams, according to new Morning Consult research.
U.S. adults were asked which team they believe will win Super Bowl LVI and which team they would like to see win
What the numbers say
- Thirty-eight percent of U.S. adults said they expect the Rams to defeat the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI, compared to 30 percent who said they expect the Bengals to win. Among those who plan to bet on the game, 55 percent predicted the Rams would win, compared with 38 percent who picked the Bengals. Most sportsbooks have the Rams, who will be playing in their home stadium, listed as 4.5-point favorites as of Wednesday. Nearly 1 in 4 respondents who said they want to see the Bengals win (23 percent) said they believe the Rams will win, while only 9 percent of respondents rooting for the Rams expect the Bengals to win.
- While Americans were more likely to pick the Rams to win Sunday’s game, a plurality said they will be rooting for the underdogs. Thirty-eight percent of adults said they want the Bengals to emerge victorious, compared to just 31 percent who plan to cheer for the Rams.
- In a survey conducted prior to the start of the NFL playoffs, public sentiment toward Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford and Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was similar, with both ranking among the top 10 most-liked skill position players in the league. Stafford was slightly more well-known than Burrow prior to the postseason, but Burrow has emerged as a popular figure during the Bengals’ improbable playoff run for his cigar-smoking, bling-wearing swagger. If Google Trends data is any indication, Burrow is likely now the fan favorite among the quarterbacks.
- Younger fans were significantly more likely than older fans to say they will be rooting for the Rams than their older peers. Adults 18-34 were the only age cohort with a larger share of respondents cheering for the Rams (41 percent) than the Bengals (34 percent). By comparison, just 31 percent of adults 35-44, 27 percent of adults 45-64 and 24 percent of adults 65 and older said they are rooting for the Rams. In the pre-playoffs player favorability survey, Rams receiver Odell Beckham Jr. ranked fourth in favorability rating and sixth in awareness among NFL skill position players with adults 18-34.
- White Americans are driving America’s preference for the Bengals. More than 40 percent of Black adults, Hispanic adults and those identifying as a member of another ethnic group said they’re rooting for the Rams over the Bengals. Among white adults, however, just 28 percent will be cheering for the Rams.
When viewers don’t have a vested interest in a particular game, conventional wisdom says they’re more likely to root for the team they view as the underdog. In last year’s survey, animus toward Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady was a key reason that a plurality of fans rooted for the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, even though the Chiefs were favored coming into the game.
Sunday’s game will be just the second Super Bowl since 2017 without Brady participating, and without the now-retired quarterback to skew opinion, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Americans are embracing this year’s plucky underdogs.
The Jan. 31, 2022 poll was conducted among a representative sample of 2,211 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.