The Bengals will face the Rams in Super Bowl 56 on Sunday, Feb. 13.
Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 pm ET at the Rams’ home field, SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. The game will be televised on NBC.
Both teams pulled off impressive comebacks on conference championship weekend. Cincinnati rallied from a 21-3 deficit to beat Kansas City 27-24 in overtime in the AFC championship game. The Rams rallied from a 17-7 deficit to beat the 49ers 20-17 in the NFC championship game.
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This is just the second Super Bowl matchup between quarterbacks who were selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft: Joe Burrow (2020) and Matthew Stafford (2009). Both are looking for their first Super Bowl ring.
The Bengals are making their third Super Bowl appearance, and their first since the 1988 season. Cincinnati has rallied around Burrow, who led Cincinnati through the AFC playoffs with back-to-back road victories at Tennessee and Kansas City after a home victory over Las Vegas.
Burrow is part of an exciting young cast that also includes Pro Bowl selections Ja’Marr Chase, Joe Mixon and Trey Hendrickson. Third-year coach Zac Taylor has a chance to lead the franchise to its first Super Bowl victory.
The Rams are in the Super Bowl for the second time under fifth-year coach Sean McVay. The offseason trade that sent Jared Goff to Detroit for Stafford was a big all-in moment for Los Angeles. In-season pickups Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. have become key contributors. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp and defensive tackle Aaron Donald are also at the top of a star-studded roster.
Will the Rams win their second Super Bowl in franchise history? Or will the Bengals finish off an incredible run? Sporting News takes an early look and offers a straight-up prediction:
Super Bowl 56 betting odds
- Spread: Rams-3.5
- Over/under: 49.5
- Moneyline: Rams -200, Bengals +168
Super Bowl 56 pick, prediction
The relationship between McVay and Taylor is an obvious storyline. Taylor was an assistant under McVay in 2017 and 2018 and was the quarterbacks coach when the Rams lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl 53.
The Bengals have a tough defense that limited Derrick Henry to 62 rushing yards in the divisional round and shut down Patrick Mahomes in the second half of the conference championship game. They have forced seven turnovers in their three playoff games. Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo has done a good job adjusting to injuries along the defensive front. Hendrickson and linebacker Logan Wilson have been difference-makers and the secondary has held up.
Cincinnati gave up one play of 20 yards or more against the Chiefs. The defense does a good job of keeping opponents in front of it, which will be a challenge against the Rams.
MORE: How Chiefs collapsed | How Bengals rally
Stafford has reliable targets in Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr., who combined for 20 catches, 255 yards and two touchdowns against the 49ers. Stafford has completed 72 percent of his passes in the playoffs, but Los Angeles cannot be one-dimensional against the Bengals. Cam Akers left the NFC championship game with a shoulder injury, something that is worth monitoring. If Akers can’t go, then Sony Michel will be on the spot.
Burrow also has a dynamic receiving tandem in Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, and the matchup between Chase and Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey in man-coverage situations will be must-see TV. Yet it’s the same story for Cincinnati. Joe Mixon needs to be a factor in the running game to offset the Rams’ pass rush. And like LA, Cincinnati suffered a key injury in its conference championship game: tight end CJ Uzomah (knee), who is one of Burrow’s favorite targets in the short passing game.
Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris will blitz, but the key will be interior pressure by Donald. That can knock Burrow off the pocket with Leonard Floyd and Von Miller coming off the edge. The pressure needs to land, though; the Rams cannot let Burrow slip out of the pocket. He converted a pair of critical third downs against the Chiefs on scrambles.
MORE: Beckham shares emotional postgame moment with 49ers’ Samuel
The recipe for success on both sides is a familiar one, but the result will still come down to the No. 1 picks. It took Stafford 13 years to get to this stage. Burrow is there in his second season. Which quarterback will be more composed on that stage? It is a true toss-up.
Burrow has shown the same cool that made him a national champion at LSU. He will make big plays despite the Rams’ furious pass rush. Cincinnati will lead at halftime, but Los Angeles will rally behind Stafford, with Kupp and Beckham catching second-half touchdowns. A late TD by the Bengals will cut the lead to three, but Los Angeles will hold on for its first Super Bowl victory in 22 seasons.
Super Bowl 56 final score
Rams 27, Bengals 24
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.