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Super Bowl LVI preview: Burrow's Bengals look to make history as Rams hope to party like it's 1999

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Jake Fish new author
Roar Rookie
9th February, 2022
12

Who would have thought?

After 272 regular season and 12 post-season match-ups we have our two teams vying to win the Super Bowl: the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals and the NFC champion Los Angeles Rams.

No one would have predicted this match-up, and in possibly the greatest post-season the NFL has ever had, it showed how open and even this year’s playoffs were after the four favourites, the NFC’s No.1 seed and my beloved Green Bay Packers, defending champions Tampa Bay, last year’s AFC champions Kansas City and the dangerous and highly respected Buffalo Bills all lost in surprising fashion.

The Rams enter the Super Bowl as favourites after defeating NFC West rivals Arizona and San Francisco, as well as defending champions Tampa Bay in the playoffs, and will look to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl since 1999 and first since moving back to LA.

Cincinnati are the Cinderella story. After finishing in last place in their division last season with four wins and having the No.1 overall pick the season before that after a two-win campaign, no one expected the Bengals to make the playoffs or win their first playoff game since 1990 and yet here they are, behind the remarkable play of quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.

The Bengals did it the hard way as the AFC’s fourth seed, having to defeat a resilient Las Vegas Raiders team at home before heading out on the road to defeat the AFC’s No.1 seed in Tennessee in a game Burrow was sacked nine times and into Arrowhead Stadium to defeat Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs for the second time in a month.

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

This year’s Super Bowl, which kicks off on Monday at 10:30am AEDT, will be held in LA at SoFi Stadium. The new multi-billion-dollar stadium the Rams call home will host the game for the first time after opening in 2020 and will mark the second year in a row a home team will be playing in the Super Bowl in their own building after Tampa Bay made and won the Super Bowl last year at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

Key match-ups

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Jalen Ramsey vs Ja’Marr Chase
Superstar record-breaking rookie up against the league’s best corner: this is the marquee match-up in this year’s Super Bowl. Ja’Marr Chase set all kinds of records this season after being taken fifth overall in last year’s NFL draft including NFL records in receiving yards in a game by a rookie (266), receiving yards in a post-season by a rookie (279) and receiving yards in a season including post-season by a rookie (1734).

He already has an argument for being the third best WR in football after Davante Adams and Cooper Kupp, who will be on the opposing sideline in Super Bowl LVI.

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Aaron Donald vs Bengals offensive line
The best defensive player since Lawrence Taylor (and yes, that includes Deion Sanders and Ray Lewis), Donald might go down one day as the greatest defensive player in NFL history. After another 1st Team All-Pro season with 12.5 sacks, 19 TFLs and a 93.6 PFF grade, he will be hoping to bring the pressure against a Bengals offensive line who allowed Burrow to be sacked 51 times, more than any other QB in the NFL this season.

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Matthew Stafford vs Joe Burrow
The first time two QBs who were drafted first overall will go face to face in a Super Bowl. The Rams will be hoping Stafford can lead them to the promise land after trading a haul for him last off-season, including first round selections in 2022 and 2023, along with QB Jared Goff and a 2021 third round pick.

Joe Burrow has become a transcendental, franchise quarterback in just his second season and is looking to become the first QB to win a Heisman Trophy, College Football National Championship and a Super Bowl.

Sean McVay vs Zac Taylor
The master up against the apprentice, Taylor was hired away from Los Angeles in 2019 after serving as McVay’s QBs coach. Taylor will be looking to replicate what Kirby Smart did in the 2022 National Championship game as his Georgia Bulldogs triumphed over former mentor Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide.

Final thoughts
Los Angeles enters this game full of confidence in their own building with a roster full of stars and deserve to be favourites but Cincinnati, behind the brilliance of Joe Burrow, have to feel like this incredible post-season run will take them all the way to Super Bowl glory.

My prediction
Burrow and Chase lead a late drive down the field to set up Evan McPherson’s game-winning FG as the city of Cincinnati celebrates its first ever Super Bowl title.

CIN: 34
LA: 31

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