Super Bowl LVI predictions: Gov. DeWine among many picking Bengals

Guessing score of big game is a tradition as old as the game itself

Thirty three years ago, Randy “Macho Man” Savage predicted the San Francisco 49ers would beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII.

“I think Joe Montana is a winner, like I am,” Savage said.

Surgeon General C. Everett Koop didn’t want to commit to either team, saying the winner would be the team “with the least amount of smokers and tobacco chewers.”

Former President Gerald Ford expected a close game but predicted the 49ers would win 30-28. Talk show host Phil Donahue picked the Bengals because he got his start in Dayton, which is close to Cincinnati, and “anybody with a quarterback named Boomer has got to win.”

Garfield, the cartoon cat, speaking for his creator, Jim Davis, had no idea.

“Super Bowl?” he said. “Is that one of those all you-can-eat joints?”

All these predictions and many more — Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and even Dennis Quaid provided their best guesses for a game the 49ers won 20-16 — were published in the annual Scripps Howard Celebrity Super Bowl Poll. l learned of this tradition in 1999 when I interned at the Scripps Howard News Service in Washington, D.C. For 23 years now, I’ve sat on the idea of doing something similar — but at a local level — if the Bengals made the Super Bowl.

Now here we are — on the brink of Super Bowl LVI. The Bengals play the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.

The Celebrity Super Bowl Poll doesn’t exist anymore. It started in 1986, and David Nielsen ran it for many years until he left the Scripps Howard News Service in 2012. He said it lasted one more year after his departure.

Every year, Nielsen gave the Super Sage Award to the celebrity who picked the winner and the closest score. Arnold Palmer was the first winner. Penn & Teller, Pat Robertson, Joe Mantegna and Dennis Farina also won. Among the biggest celebrities to participate in the poll were: Elizabeth Taylor; Maya Angelou; Kobe Bryant; Michael Phelps; Jack Nicklaus; and Donald Trump.

Predicting the Super Bowl score and betting on the winner is a tradition that goes beyond the Celebrity Super Bowl Poll, of course. This week, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, made a bet with California Sen. Alex Padilla. Portman will win a pastrami sandwich from Langer’s Deli in Los Angeles and a pack of Golden Road Brewing’s LA Rams Whose House Blonde Ale Beer if the Bengals win, while Padilla will get a 6-pack of Hudepohl’s Hu-Dey lager beer and a few of Izzy’s world-famous Reuben sandwiches.

None of the brave souls listed below who sent me their predictions will win anything but respect. I sent a bunch of emails, text messages and direct messages to area high school and college coaches, media members, athletes and local mayors and even Gov. Mike DeWine to get their predictions for the big game. In tribute to a man who turned the Celebrity Super Bowl Poll into something that was often more exciting than the game itself, I’ll let Nielsen make the first prediction.

“As a Chiefs fan, I have to pick Cincinnati,” he wrote. “After all, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! Bengals 27, Rams 24.”

DeWine, as you might expect, also favors the Bengals and hopes they can make history for Ohio.

“The Bengals, like all championship teams, continue to find a way to win,” he said. “Super Bowl LVI will be no different, with clutch turnovers from the defense, Joe Burrow taking the team down the field, and Evan McPherson kicking a crucial field goal. Bengals win Ohio’s first Super Bowl and tenth NFL title!”

Here are the rest of the picks:


Brent Centers, Franklin mayor: I think (Evan) McPherson will get a couple field goals during the game that will ultimately bring the Lombardi (Trophy) home to Cincinnati. Bengals 34, Rams 28.

Brooks Compton, Centerville mayor: The Bengals have come through in the most pressure-packed games when it counts. Super Bowl will be no different. Bengals 35, Rams 27.

Nicole Condrey, Middletown mayor: I predict Bengals by 3! If I could predict Bearcats by 30, I would. Next best is putting our faith in Bengals’ special teams yet again!

Warren Copeland, Springfield mayor: I am going with my heart. Bengals 27, Rams 21.

Richard Herbst, Vandalia mayor: The Rams D-line will be putting a lot of pressure on (Joe) Burrow to prevent him from getting into a rhythm. The Rams should be able to move the ball with their aggressive play-calling. Look out for some trick plays. Rams 27, Bengals 16.

Pat Moeller, Hamilton mayor: L.A. starts off fast with (Matthew) Stafford and (Cooper) Kupp doing well, taking a 14-6 lead at the half. Bengals, led by Burrow, (Tyler) Boyd, and (Tee) Higgins outscore L.A. in the second half, and the defense shuts down the L.A. offense. (Ja’Marr) Chase is double-teamed, opening up Boyd and Higgins. Bengals 27, Rams 21.


Keith Byars, former Ohio State and NFL fullback: Bengals in a close one. Money McPherson at the gun. The Rams have the ability to blow the Bengals out, but if it’s close in the fourth quarter, the Bengals will win. Bengals 27, Rams 24.

DaRon Holmes II, Dayton Flyers freshman forward: I’m from Arizona, which is right next to L.A. I don’t want to say it, but I’ve got the Rams. But if the Bengals win, I’ll be excited for them, too, because I live in Ohio. Rams 17, Bengals 13.

Robert Landers, Wayne grad and former Ohio State defensive tackle: It’s going to be low scoring because Cincinnati’s O-line has struggled all season, and this is the best D-line they will face in both aspects of playing in the trenches. Cincinnati’s wide receiver group, of course, is loaded, but I will say the Rams win by a field goal. Rams 24, Bengals 21.


Rick Chamberlin, Dayton Flyers head football coach: I am a Browns fan but pulling for the Bengals. The Bengals have a winner at QB and an outstanding kicker. When you have that combination, you’ve got a chance to win. Bengals 20, Rams 17.

Jim Collins, Wittenberg football head coach: The Bengals defense has been playing really well. Burrow seems to always find a way, even when he is under duress, to make the big play. And if it comes down to a game-winning field goal, McPherson has been clutch all year. Bengals 24, Rams 21.

Chuck Martin, Miami RedHawks football head coach: (Rams head coach) Sean McVay is a Miami guy, and I am rooting for him to get a Super Bowl. Rams 23, Bengals 16.

Rob Linkhart, former Wittenberg assistant coach and principal of Northridge Middle School in Springfield: This team just seems to have it. As the great Jake Taylor once said, ‘I guess there is only one thing left to do win the whole thing.’ Bengals 23, Rams 20.

Ryan Wilhite, Springboro football coach: What would this season be without one more walk-off field goal for a Super Bowl Championship?! This has been an NFL playoff season for the ages! Bengals 31, Rams 28.


Jason Arkley, Athens-based sports writer for and Burrow expert: The legend of Burrow grows thanks to a fourth-quarter TD drive. Stogies for everyone! Bengals 27, Rams 20.

Marty Bannister, news and sports director for iHeart Media radio stations in Chillicothe, Washington Court House and and Hillsboro: As special as Burrow has been in the postseason, it’s the defense that has saved the day. I’m counting on the defense to have one more great game in it. Bengals 28, Rams 24.

Michael Cooper, Springfield News-Sun contributing writer: Burrow already has several great nicknames — Joe Cool, Joe Shiesty, Joe Brrr. On Sunday night, he’ll add a new title to his collection — Super Bowl champion — thanks to another game-winner from Shooter McPherson. Bengals 31, Rams 28.

Mo Egger, sports talk host on ESPN1530, 700WLW and ESPN Radio: Before each of the last three playoff games, I’ve made the same prediction: that if the Bengals turn it over once or less, they’ll win. Pretty high-end analysis if you ask me. When the Bengals don’t turn it over, they don’t lose. They’re 12-1 when they don’t lose the turnover battle, including wins in their last six games that actually meant something. I worry about how the Bengals will block Aaron Donald, and I’m intrigued by how Jalen Ramsey impacts what the Bengals do with their passing game, but I’m not sure I’d bet on Burrow giving the ball away. Bengals 30. Rams 27.

Kevin Goheen, former Cincinnati-based sports writer: I‘m taking the Bengals because they have an X-factor in their favor: I’m not covering them. I own a dubious 0-6 record in playoff games while on the beat (not to mention 0-5 for the Reds), so this Super Bowl is theirs for the taking. Seriously, though, expect another tight game. The Bengals have done a tremendous job of not beating themselves with turnovers. They’ll have to continue that trend. Finding a way to cover Cooper Kupp wouldn’t hurt, either. Bengals 24, Rams 22.

Mike Hartsock, retired sports anchor for WHIO: I covered the first two times the Bengals came up short. I won’t be at this one, maybe that will be a good omen for the stripes. Bengals 31, Rams 30.

Andre Johnson, sports reporter for Dayton 24/7 Now: I think it’ll be more defensive than people expect. Cincinnati’s defense is on fire, but I also expect Von Miller and Aaron Donald to be a problem for that Cincy offensive line. Bengals 21, Rams 16.

Justin Kinner, sports talk radio host for 1410 WING-AM: The Bengals have proven me wrong going all the way back to the draft when they selected Chase over Penei Sewell. So I think I’ve learned my lesson picking against them. The Rams have the bigger “stars” on paper, but outside of the Bengals bad O-line, I think that both teams overall are evenly matched. McPherson will cap off perfect playoff run with the Super Bowl game-winning kick. Bengals 31, Rams 28.

Scott Leo, radio voice of Wittenberg University athletics and Columbus Clippers: (The Bengals) are young, and they don’t probably know the magnitude of what they’re doing and what they’re about to potentially accomplish. They don’t back down from anybody unlike other Bengals teams that seemed to wilt in the big moments. This team seems to shine in those moments. Bengals 31, Rams 28.

Chick Ludwig, sports talk host on 700 WLW and former Bengals beat writer for Dayton Daily News: It’s a home game for the Rams, who are loaded with star power. But there’s no way I can pick against the team I’ve been following since 1968. The Bengals keep their poise and the young guns get it done. Bengals 31, Rams 28.

Hal McCoy, Hall of Fame baseball writer: Joe Cool will light up the Rams and then light up a cigar. Bengals 34, Rams 21.

Laurel Pfahler, Bengals beat writer for Dayton Daily News: The Bengals defense has been solid all postseason, and the offense is due for an efficient red-zone performance. They made it this far. They are winning it all! Bengals 28, Rams 21.

Bill Swaim, retired publisher of Springfield News-Sun: McPherson strikes again at the end of a hard-fought game. Burrow will be hoisted on shoulders once more. Bengals 31, Rams 28.

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