Super Bowl Sunday: Cincinnati Bengals vs Los Angeles Rams

Just like that, the big game is here! It’s the one that everyone has been waiting for and the one everyone wants to win. Ninety-Nine Yards writer, Owain Jones previews the Super Bowl LVI.

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The Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams will contest in the Super Bowl LVI! An unlikely matchup, this year’s Super Bowl will be one of the most anticipated and exciting in years. For the Rams and the Bengals, a place in NFL history awaits. No pressure then.

Both the Rams and the Bengals entered the playoffs at 4th seeds, as Super Bowl 56 sees the lowest-seeded matchup in Super Bowl history. While the Rams are the early favourites, this year’s Super Bowl promises to be a close one, in one of the most unpredictable playoffs in memory.

While everyone focuses on the on-field matchups, it could be the matchup on the sidelines that also decides this game. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor was Rams wide receiver coach then quarterback coach from 2017-2019 working under Rams head coach Sean McVay. McVay, 36, and Taylor, 38 are the two youngest coaches in the NFL.

Last year’s Super Bowl was watched by over 96 million viewers, as Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl 55. Who will get their hands on the prized Vince Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl 56?

CINCINNATI BENGALS

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The Cincinnati Bengals head into Super Bowl 56 looking for their first ever Super Bowl win. This is their third trip to the Super Bowl and their first appearance since 1989.

Buoyed by their LSU Tiger duo Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Burrow, Cincinnati have defied the odds to get to the Super Bowl. The Bengals decided to draft Ja’Marr Chase 5th overall in last season's draft to attempt to recreate the connection he had with Burrow in a record-breaking year in college.

That decision has changed the culture within the organisation. But how the rookie star receiver deals with Rams, star corner Jalen Ramsey will be key to this game. He has faced many good corners. None at the standard of Ramsey.

But the Bengals also have weapons to beat you outside of Chase. Tee Higgins went for over 1000 yards as a number two receiver. Tyler Boyd has also had a good season and the receiving threat of running back Joe Mixon out of the backfield gives Joe Burrow a quick escape option.

That passing attack will be even more important as the LA Rams are especially hard to run against. Only allowing four yards per carry in the regular season and a low of 2.5 yards per carry against the 49ers in the NFC Championship.

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The Bengals ran on 59% of first downs in the AFC Championship game against the Chiefs. That averaged less than four yards whereas when the Bengals pass on first down that average goes up to more than eight yards. More dynamic play-calling on first down will be vital if the Bengals are to win their first ever Super Bowl.

This will be especially key as the Bengals look to play a quick pass game. Possessing one of the worst offensive lines, Cincinnati has struggled all year to protect Joe Burrow. It doesn’t get any easier for them as they face off against one of the most fearsome defensive lines in football. Joe Burrow will have to get the ball out quick and with pace to avoid the inevitable pressure. Burrow was sacked 51 times in the regular season, the most of any quarterback.

But Joe Burrow deals well with pressure. Both the type coming from Aaron Donald and company along with the mental pressure of playing in the big one.

Another player who isn’t affected by pressure is rookie kicker Evan McPherson who is 12-12 in the playoffs including two walk-off field goals.

LA RAMS

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For the LA Rams, they enter a home Super Bowl! They become only the second team to play at home in the Super Bowl after Tampa Bay won their home Super Bowl last year.

One of the keys to Super Bowl 56 will be how the Rams defence slows down the Bengals high powered passing game. Luckily, they have one of the most frightening defensive lines in football that combines Leonard Floyd, Von Miller who has had seven sacks in his last seven games and one of the best players in all of football Aaron Donald who has seven sacks in his last eight games. They will need to pressure Joe Burrow upfront, but they also have playmakers in the secondary. The Rams defence has at least one turnover in 10 straight games.

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If this game is to really open up for the Rams, it will be with their very own passing attack. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp hit almost 2000 yards in the regular season, scoring 17 touchdowns to lead all of football. Despite knowing what's coming, no defence has been able to cope with him in the 2021 season.

If the Bengals do somehow manage to slow down Cooper Kupp, Matthew Stafford and the Rams now have Odell Beckham Jr on the other side. He went for over 110 yards in the NFC Championship game.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has loved having these weapons to throw to, but he will have to take care of the ball and get the ball out quickly himself. The Bengals defensive line, led by free agent signing Trey Hendrickson, has been productive and sacked Patrick Mahomes four times and combined for five quarterback hits in the AFC Championship game. If the Bengals front four can get home and make Stafford force things, they will be confident they can create turnovers. They have had two takeaways in all three of their playoff wins.

HALFTIME SHOW

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While all eyes will be on the football, there will be millions that tune in for 20 minutes for the Super Bowl Halftime show. This year’s halftime show is a star-studded event that will feature, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Dr. Dre, and Mary J. Blige. The NFL has spared no expense on this halftime show, which is one of the most anticipated for years.

For the LA Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals immortality awaits. Who can etch their names into NFL history?

Buy your tickets to watch the Super Bowl LVI at Belushi’s Bars across the UK & Europe. Get your general admission tickets for London Bridge, Shepherds Bush, Greenwich, and Shepherds Bush, Camden in advance.

Don’t forget you can follow @Owain_Jones_ and the @NinetyNineYards team on Twitter for the latest in NFL conversation, and of course, keep an eye out on the blog for fresh content from the team.