It’s time to go on file with a choose for Super Bowl LVI between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals. You’ll additionally discover three participant props, three group/sport props and three longshots that I like. Stats are courtesy of TruMedia and Pro Football Focus until in any other case famous.

Last week: 2-0
Season: 150-132-2

Cincinnati Bengals at Los Angeles Rams (-4.5) | 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday, NBC

When the Rams traded for Matthew Stafford final offseason, they have been committing to (at the very least) a two-year window to attempt to win the Super Bowl. Stafford went the primary 12 years of his profession with out experiencing what it felt wish to win a single playoff sport. Now he’s one win away from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Circumstances matter — even for quarterbacks.

Sean McVay has gone 61-29 as a head coach. He’s by no means had a shedding season, has made the playoffs 4 occasions and is already making his second journey to the Super Bowl. The Rams have embraced a very completely different team-building technique. They haven’t used a first-round choose previously 5 years. They’ve loaded up on picks within the center and later rounds. They’ve given up draft capital for gamers like Jalen Ramsey and Von Miller. And it’s labored.

When groups speak about belongings and rebuilding and long-term technique, the purpose is at all times to ultimately get a shot at successful the Super Bowl. There might be challenges for the Rams in future years, however they’re right here — within the spot that each different group is making an attempt to get to.

For the Bengals, this run looks like the beginning of one thing. There won’t be a greater match of quarterback and metropolis than Joe Burrow and Cincinnati. In his second season, coming off of a knee damage, he confirmed he’s able to working at a excessive degree even when the circumstances are lower than ideally suited. In some ways, that’s the definition of a franchise quarterback.

But this sport isn’t about taking part in with home cash. Few know higher than Bengals followers how arduous it’s to get to the Super Bowl. And the AFC is loaded with Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson and others. The Bengals might be within the combine for years to return. But each Super Bowl champ has to get just a little fortunate. And you by no means know when that luck goes to fall your method.

As we outlined in our big Super Bowl preview, the Rams have a big benefit on either side of the road of scrimmage on this matchup. Cooper Kupp has been unguardable just about each week. And Ramsey can match up with Ja’Marr Chase. The Rams are the extra gifted group on paper. And in some ways, it feels prefer it’s their time. It could be no shock if Aaron Donald pressured Burrow all sport lengthy, Stafford went up and down the sector, and the Rams gained decisively.

But typically sports activities are bizarre, and also you simply must journey the wave. The Bengals weren’t alleged to be right here. Their over/underneath for wins coming into the season was 6.5. But down the stretch, Zac Taylor (for probably the most half) determined to place the ball in Burrow’s arms and see what occurred. That was a clever resolution. Burrow and Chase put the offense on their backs at occasions, and the Bengals turned some of the enjoyable groups within the NFL. Defensively, a gaggle that was put collectively largely by means of free company performed with a constantly feisty demeanor. Lou Anarumo, one of many  NFL’s most inconspicuous coordinators, deployed good changes to decelerate the Kansas City Chiefs within the second half of the AFC Championship sport.

The Bengals have simply two losses all season that have been by seven factors or extra. They’ve been constantly aggressive. We know the stage shouldn’t be going to be too huge for Burrow. And we all know the protection gained’t keep on with a static sport plan. It will regulate as crucial.

It wasn’t alleged to occur this quickly for the Bengals. It was alleged to be a gentle, gradual construct with Burrow. But when franchises expertise lengthy droughts — and the Bengals have by no means gained a Super Bowl — oftentimes, the break comes at a wierd time when nobody is anticipating it.

That’s what I believe goes to occur right here. Burrow achieves legendary standing. Trey Hendrickson comes by means of with a late sack/fumble. And the Bengals hoist the Lombardi.

The choose: Bengals (+4.5)

Three participant prop bets I like …

1. Cam Akers underneath 64.5 dashing yards (-110)

Akers returned from an Achilles damage in Week 18. In 4 video games, he has 59 rushes for 154 yards (2.61 YPC) and a future of 15. He didn’t high 55 dashing yards in any of these video games. Could Akers break one on this sport? Sure. But there are a pair issues working in opposition to him.

One, McVay didn’t come this far to take the ball out of Stafford’s arms. I believe the Rams come out throwing. And two, Akers had a pair of fumbles within the divisional spherical in opposition to the Bucs. After that sport, he had 13 carries in opposition to the 49ers within the NFC Championship. How a lot is McVay going to belief him with ball safety on this spot? If the Rams construct an enormous lead, Akers will doubtless see loads of work. But if it’s a aggressive sport, I believe he falls beneath this quantity.

2. Joe Mixon underneath 62.5 yards (-115)

The Bengals typically function like they’re a very good working group. But they don’t seem to be a very good working group. They rank 19th in rushing DVOA, whereas the Rams’ protection ranks fourth in opposition to the run. In the NFC Championship, the Rams held the 49ers to 50 dashing yards on 25 makes an attempt. The 49ers are a greater dashing group than the Bengals. There’s an opportunity right here that Cincinnati comes out with a run-heavy sport plan prefer it did within the AFC Championship, however even then, until Mixon breaks one, I believe the Rams can maintain him in examine.

3. Tyler Boyd over 40.5 receiving yards (-110)

Boyd was his traditional productive self within the common season, ending with 67 catches for 828 yards (51.8 yards per sport). He’s had a quiet postseason with simply 62 yards in three video games. Burrow confirmed within the AFC Championship that he’s keen to go elsewhere if defenses gear as much as cease Chase. In that sport, Tee Higgins was his go-to goal. The Rams are excellent at limiting opponents’ downfield passing assaults. That may imply room within the intermediate a part of the sector for somebody like Boyd.

Three group/sport prop bets I like …

1. Bengals over 23.5 factors (+110)

As I discussed earlier, I can see a state of affairs the place Burrow is pressured all sport lengthy. But guess what? He’s used to that. He simply will get again up time and again and strikes on to the following play. No one actually thinks Burrow goes to turtle on this sport, do they? The Rams’ protection is excellent. But they gave up 27 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers within the divisional spherical and 27 to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 18. They are usually not a juggernaut. Burrow goes to play nicely on this sport, and Evan McPherson is near computerized. They can get to 24 and have the firepower to blow previous this whole.

2. No group to file three or extra unanswered scores (+175)

Sometimes you must make nonsense bets simply to really feel alive. That’s what the Super Bowl is for. I’ve completely no information to assist this one. Three consecutive scores simply looks as if so much, and I believe that is going to be a back-and-forth sport. Is that adequate for you? C’mon. Think of how enjoyable it will likely be to brag to your mates if this one hits. This is why I subscribe to The Athletic.

3. Shortest TD over 1.5 yards (-110)

Is this one other foolish one? Why sure, sure it’s. So to win, there can’t be a landing scored from the 1 yard line or nearer. The Rams have scored seven touchdowns in 20 video games from that shut in. The Bengals have scored six. Think of how enjoyable goal-line stands are anyway.

Now image a state of affairs the place Mixon will get stuffed on fourth-and-goal from the 1. You leap off the sofa, pump your fist and begin yelling. Your associates take a look at you confused and assume that you’re a closeted diehard Rams fan. Hanging your head in disgrace, you must clarify that that’s not the case. That you’re excited since you had over 1.5 yards for the shortest TD. This is exactly the way you convey life to an in any other case uninteresting Super Bowl get together. You must consider me right here.

Three longshot bets I like …

1. Aaron Donald to win MVP (+1200)

Quarterbacks have gained MVP in seven of the previous 10 seasons. The award has gone to a defensive participant twice in that span. There’s a really practical state of affairs the place Donald is within the combine right here. One, he’s a foul, dangerous man able to fully destroying something and every part in entrance of him. Two, the Bengals’ offensive line (as you may need heard) is their weak point. And three, it’s totally potential that Stafford has a turnover or two. If that occurs and Donald notches a number of sacks and the Rams flip in a dominant defensive efficiency, he’ll have an opportunity. I’m not saying it’s doubtless. But at +1200? Sure.

2. Cooper Kupp TD and Bengals win (+400)

If you’re like me and suppose the Bengals may win this sport, you may take the cash line at +165. Or you may dwell just a little! Close your eyes and movie the Rams taking part in a soccer sport. What do you see? It’s Kupp scoring a landing. He’s discovered the tip zone in eight of his previous 9 video games. He has 20 touchdowns in 20 video games. Scoring touchdowns for Kupp is like respiratory for you and me. So why not mix a Bengals win with a Kupp TD and take the +400?

3. Both groups to attain 25+ factors and Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford to every go for 250+yards (+450)

At first look, this looks as if a no brainer, however the first half shouldn’t be that straightforward to attain. Only three of the final 10 Super Bowls have seen each groups rating at the very least 25 factors. Having stated that, I just like the over (48.5) on this sport, and I believe it’s going to be aggressive. I believe each groups are going to maneuver the ball, and each quarterbacks will put up numbers. Stafford has averaged greater than 289 passing yards per sport, and Burrow has averaged 287. I believe each quarterbacks will hit the 250+ mark. Maybe we don’t get there with each groups scoring 25+, however at +450, I prefer it.

(Graphic: Wes McCabe / The Athletic; picture: Lindsay Wasson / Getty Images)

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