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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Super Bowl 56 feels like a game littered with lessons. 

    One? The parity the NFL likes to tout is pretty real. The Cincinnati Bengals hadn’t won a playoff game in 30-plus years and now, thanks primarily to one draft pick, they’re in the Super Bowl. 

    Two? Various approaches can work for any team, at any time. The Los Angeles Rams went all-in on sacrificing those heavyweight draft assets to assemble the roster. And not only is this an odd-feeling Super Bowl without a Tom Brady or other member of the old guard, it’s a continuation of the new wave of coaches as Rams coach Sean McVay takes on understudy Zac Taylor. 

    Perhaps more than anything else, it’s also just a rather unpredictable game between unorthodox opponents. Which, translated a different way, means it should captivate fans and be a fitting conclusion to the season. 

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Who: Rams vs. Bengals

    When: Sunday, Feb. 13, at 6:30 p.m. ET

    Where: SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles

    TV: NBC

    Live Stream: Peacock, NFL app, Yahoo Sports app

    Spread: Rams -4

    Total: O/U 48.5

    Money line: Rams -195, Bengals +165

    All odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Super Bowl 56 MVP Odds

    Rams QB Matthew Stafford: +100 (bet $100 to win $100)

    Bengals QB Joe Burrow: +225

    Rams WR Cooper Kupp: +600

    Rams DT Aaron Donald: +1400

    Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase: +1800

    Rams WR Odell Beckham Jr.: +2800

    Rams RB Cam Akers: +3500

    Rams LB Von Miller: +4000

    Bengals WR Tee Higgins: +4500

    Bengals RB Joe Mixon: +4500

    Full list of prop bets can be found at DraftKings Sportsbook.

    Quarterbacks have won the Super Bowl MVP in four of the last five years, with Tom Brady winning it as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a season ago. 

    After superb seasons by both Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford, it’s not hard to see why both are the favorites this year. Burrow, coming back early from injury, completed 70.4 percent of his passes with 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Stafford, in his first year with a new team, went 67.2, 41 and 17, respectively. 

    Just don’t discount somebody like Cooper Kupp, owner of 1,947 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns this year, nor breakout Bengals rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase after his 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns. 

    The smart play is a quarterback, but based on the payouts, Chase might be the right call. He’s been a big-play artist all year and the Rams will have to stretch thin to stop other Bengals weapons. Julian Edelman did it as recently as 2019 on 10 catches for 141 yards. 

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Of all the parlays and creative things would-be bettors can go after for this Super Bowl, the over/under looks like one of the biggest layups out there. 

    These are, after all, teams that have explosive offenses thanks to their quarterbacks. Yes, the defenses are good too for various reasons—the Rams have a great pass-rush via Aaron Donald and Co. and the Bengals are uncannily good at adapting in the second half to clamp down. 

    But the Rams have scored 30 or more in two of three postseason games now and the Bengals have been right behind them, scoring at least 26 twice. There are simply too many weapons across the field for both offenses directed by the next wave of offensive-minded head coaches for the defenses to pitch a low-scoring game. 

    In a last quarterback to touch the ball wins it-feeling sort of game, the over is the easy answer. 

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The final spread hasn’t moved a ton from the opening line because it’s just that close of a game. That the Rams are “home” (the Bengals are the “home” team as the AFC team this year) team and the line hasn’t moved much says it all. 

    And it might just say more about the Bengals. 

    Cincinnati has a unicorn-ish feel to this run. The offensive line that coughed up 51 sacks in the regular season and 12 more in the postseason hasn’t been that big of a factor. That’s a testament to Burrow’s pocket presence and big-play ability, but also his weapons. 

    Interestingly, while onlookers focus on big boundary names like Ja’Marr Chase and Odell Beckham Jr., the game’s probably won in the middle of the field. Football Outsiders’ DVOA ranked the Rams 29th in defending the middle of the field, where the Bengals will employ star slot wideout Tyler Boyd, tight end C.J. Uzomah and a big body like the 6’4″ Tee Higgins on crossers. 

    If the Rams can’t cover that in under three seconds, the pass-rush exploiting a struggling offensive line doesn’t happen. 

    Prediction: Bengals 27, Rams 24

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