The Bengals are due to face the Rams in Super Bowl 56 on Sunday, February 13th.
Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 PM ET at the Rams’ home ground, SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. The match will be televised on NBC.
Both teams made impressive comebacks on the conference championship weekend. Cincinnati gathered 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.
MORE: What you need to know about Super Bowl 56
This is just the second Super Bowl matchup between quarterbacks to be 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 playing their third Super Bowl appearance, and their first since the 1988 season. Cincinnati has gathered around Burrow, who led Cincinnati through the AFC playoffs with back-to-back highway victories in Tennessee and Kansas City following a home win 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 deal that sent Jared Goff to Detroit for Stafford was a big all-in moment for Los Angeles. Season’s Pickups Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. have become important contributors. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp and defensive tackle Aaron Donald are also at the top of a star-studded list.
Will the Rams win their second Super Bowl in franchise history? Or will the Bengals finish an incredible race? Sporting News takes an early look and offers a direct prediction:
Super Bowl 56 odds
- Dispersion: Rams -3.5
- Over under: 49.5
- Moneyline: Aries -200, Bengals +168
Super Bowl 56 picks, prediction
The relationship between McVay and Taylor is an obvious story. 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 division 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 of adapting to injuries along the defensive front. Hendrickson and linebacker Logan Wilson have been discriminating, and the secondary has held up.
Cincinnati gave up a game of 20 yards or more against the Chiefs. The defense is doing a good job of keeping the opponents ahead, which will be a challenge against the Rams.
MORE: How Chiefs Collapsed | How the Bengalis gathered
Stafford have reliable goals in Coup 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 with a shoulder injury, something worth keeping an eye on. If Akers can not 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 Ram’s cornerback Jalen Ramsey in man-wide situations will be a TV to watch. Yet it is the same story for Cincinnati. Joe Mixon must be a factor in the running game to offset the Rams’ pass rush. And like LA, Cincinnati suffered a major injury in its conference championship game: tight end CJ Uzomah (knee), who is one of Burrow’s favorite goals in the short passing game.
Ram’s defensive coordinator Raheem Morris will flash, but the key will be internal pressure from Donald. It could knock Burrow out of his pocket with Leonard Floyd and Von Miller coming over the edge. However, the pressure must land; Rams can’t let Burrow slip out of his pocket. He converted a couple 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 well known, but the result will still come down to the No. 1 choices. It took Stafford 13 years to reach this stage. Burrow is there in his second season. Which quarterback will be more composed on that stage? It’s a true vomit.
Burrow has shown the same toughness that made him a national champion at LSU. He will play big games despite the Rams’ furious pass-rush. Cincinnati leads at the break, but Los Angeles will rally behind Stafford, with Kupp and Beckham catching touchdowns in the second half. A late TD from the Bengals will cut the lead to three, but Los Angeles will hold on to its first Super Bowl victory in 22 seasons.
Super Bowl 56 final result
Rams 27, Bengals 24