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One prop we like at Sports Injury Central for a certain player to record a sack, but he’s not on the team you might think of first when it comes to defensive lines making an impact in the game.
Most of the talk leading up to the Super Bowl is the big advantage the Rams’ defensive front has in the game and for good reason. The Bengals’ offensive line remains the team’s biggest weakness, while the loaded Rams defensive front featuring Aaron Donald and Von Miller is arguably the best in the NFL.
However, don’t sleep on the Bengals’ defensive line. While it still doesn’t get a lot of love in the national media. Cincinnati’s defensive front is one of the most underrated units in the league and a big reason why the Bengals are playing in the Super Bowl. The most dominant pass rusher on that line is Trey Hendrickson, and he has a plus matchup on Sunday going against Rams LT Andrew Whitworth.
A mild MCL sprain/high ankle injury in his right leg kept Whitworth out of the Divisional Round win over the Buccaneers. He returned and played in the NFC Championship Game, although not up to his usual form. On tape, we noticed that Whitworth’s mobility was limited against the 49ers and Nick Bosa took advantage, finishing with 1.5 sacks and four quarterback pressures.
We do expect Whitworth to be close to 100% in the Super Bowl. According to ProFootballDoc David Chao, mild MCL sprains are typically a 1-2 week injury for linemen, meaning Whitworth should look more like himself in the Super Bowl. But keep in mind, with Tom Brady retiring, the 40-year-old Whitworth is now the oldest player in the NFL, and this is expected to be his final game.
Another factor could be depth. Whitworth’s backup, Joe Noteboom, was placed on IR Friday and won’t play in the Super Bowl. Should something happen to Whitworth, the Rams would be down to third-string tackle AJ Jackson. The rookie has only played 61 snaps this season.
Hendrickson may not be a household name like Bosa, but he is one of the best edge rushers in the NFL. The former Saint made a huge impact in his first season with the Bengals, recording 14 sacks, including 2.5 this postseason.
Over the last two seasons, Hendrickson has 27.5 sacks. That total ranks third in the NFL during that span, behind only the Steelers’ T.J. Watt (37.5) and the Browns’ Myles Garrett (28).
Whitworth playing in likely his final game against his old team with a Super Bowl title on the line is a great story. However, the reality is even if Whitworth is close to 100% healthy, he’ll struggle to contain Hendrickson over four quarters.
Sacks can be random but we expect Hendrickson to make a big impact as a pass rusher in this game. We like him to record at least one sack at -135.
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