Feb 11, 2022
Gigantic Bowl LVI kicks off on Sunday at 6: 30 p.m. ET, with the Cincinnati Bengals going thru the Los Angeles Rams. The 2 groups every emerged from their convention’s No. 4 seeds after winning their respective divisions. The matchup represents the main time since 2003 that participant groups enter with a mixed zero or one Gigantic Bowl titles, and the 2 quarterbacks — Matthew Stafford and Joe Burrow — are every making an attempt defend their first Vince Lombardi Trophy in their debut postseasons with their groups.
Our NFL crew has you lined with every little thing you would ever are desirous to take dangle of for Rams-Bengals, together with crew previews, fearless predictions and recreation picks. We also provide making a wager advice from our ESPN Chalk experts, recreation-realizing breakdowns from our analysts and in-depth statistics from our ESPN Stats & Knowledge crew. We glimpse at the 2 quarterbacks, the pinnacle coaches, key novices and a few X factors as successfully. We even preview the officiating, halftime camouflage, damage file and top Gigantic Bowl MVP candidates.
Or no longer it is all here in a at hand one-stop cheat sheet. Let’s dive in, beginning with an define of the consuming matchup.
Preview | Picks | What’s at stake
Stats to take dangle of | Daring calls | QBs
MVP assign | Matchup | Inexperienced persons
Making a wager advice | Injuries | Coaches
Season overview | Officiating | Halftime
Previewing Rams vs. Bengals
Whenever you think of a standard Gigantic Bowl matchup, you think of two groups which respect dominated their competition and speed rampant thru the playoffs. This is no longer that matchup. Every groups trailed in their respective convention championship video games as the fourth quarter started. The Bengals wanted a dramatic comeback and a spectacular self-destruction from the Chiefs to approach. The Rams blew a 24-level lead within the divisional spherical against the Bucs and wanted 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt to tumble a gift-wrapped interception to spur their defend over the 49ers.
And but, these groups are here because their stars did huge name issues. Cooper Kupp and Ja’Marr Scoot made huge catches to situation up recreation-winning enviornment targets. Jessie Bates III started the divisional-spherical recreation vs. the Titans with an interception and sent the Chiefs’ offense to the sideline for the cool weather by increasing but every other. Aaron Donald executed Jimmy Garoppolo‘s 49ers profession with a power to power a respect. Joe Burrow ducked thru a clear sack to trot for a serious first down. These groups respect weapons on both aspects of the ball that would possibly perchance perchance singlehandedly resolve video games. Whichever crew stops more of these stars wins this recreation. — Invoice Barnwell, senior NFL author
Be taught more: Barnwell’s final preview … First glimpse at the matchup … How did Cincinnati produce this outlandish roster … Gigantic Bowl returns to its birthplace … FiveThirtyEight’s book … Tales of Gigantic Bowl nerves
What ESPN’s Football Energy Index (FPI) says
ESPN’s FPI predicts a Rams victory in 66.3% of its simulations by an moderate of 5.6 aspects.
Our matchup ranking grades Rams-Bengals as a 74.7 on a scale of 1 to 100.
The Rams had been No. 6 in FPI this season, whereas the Bengals had been No. 15.
In the preseason, the Rams had a 10.7% probability to construct the Gigantic Bowl per FPI, however the Bengals had been an 0.4% probability.
Who wins the recreation?
We asked 76 experts to weigh in on who will defend. The Rams had been picked by 43 of them (56.6%), whereas the Bengals claimed 33 votes (43.4%).
What’s at stake
The Rams are making an attempt to jot down the wonderful ending for their Hollywood script — winning a Gigantic Bowl in their home stadium after making an all-in effort. They’re going for the second championship in franchise history (1999) and first since their 2016 transfer encourage to Los Angeles, the put they’re aloof making an attempt to defend over a lukewarm fan unpleasant. It would be redemption for coach Sean McVay, who has lamented one of the significant crucial errors he made within the crew’s loss to Tranquil England in Gigantic Bowl LIII, and it might perchance perchance give Aaron Donald the one ingredient his résumé is lacking. Given how worthy the Rams mortgaged their future to defend this season, this can even seemingly be their finest shot at a Gigantic Bowl in a whereas. — Brady Henderson, Seahawks reporter (masking Rams)
Sam Acho and Dan Graziano dissect Odell Beckham Jr.’s speed to the Gigantic Bowl and the design that has changed the perception of his profession.
Cincinnati has lost both previous journeys to the Gigantic Bowl — losses to the 49ers in 1982 and 1989. If the Bengals can obtain but every other upset defend within the postseason, Cincinnati will join the 49ers as the wonderful groups that went from worst within the NFL to Gigantic Bowl champs within the span of three seasons, in step with the Elias Sports Bureau. With a younger core that aspects quarterback Joe Burrow, Cincinnati must aloof be enjoying for the Lombardi trophy commonly. The Bengals are in their 54th season, which would perchance perchance perchance be basically the most by any franchise sooner than winning its first championship in NFL history, per Elias. — Ben Toddler, Bengals reporter
Key stats to take dangle of
In accordance to ESPN metrics powered by NFL Next Gen Stats, the Rams ranked first in pass plug defend rate this season. The Bengals, meanwhile, ranked 30th in pass block defend rate, and they had been 25th or worst in pass block defend rate at every space (the five OL spots, TE and RB). And this would be the third Gigantic Bowl matchup that comprises an offense sacked 50-plus times at some level of the regular season (Bengals) and a protection that racked up 50-plus sacks (Rams).
Rams defensive address Aaron Donald (127, first) and Bengals defensive pause Trey Hendrickson (107, third) notorious within the pinnacle three in first pressures this season, together with the playoffs. Hendrickson became 11th in pass plug defend rate (21.9%), and the Bengals’ power rate fell from 33% with him on the realm to 21% with him off it. Donald, though, had the second-absolute most life like pass plug defend rate this season (26.7%), regardless of being double-teamed at the sixth-absolute most life like rate within the NFL (64%). Genuinely, Donald’s 23.1% pass plug defend rate when being double-teamed became the identical as sack chief T.J. Watt‘s general price. And when both Donald and edge rusher Von Miller are within the pass plug, the Rams respect a pass plug defend rate of 54.2% (together with the playoffs).
Together with the playoffs, receivers Cooper Kupp (Rams) and Ja’Marr Scoot (Bengals) are Nos. 1 and 2 in receiving yards this season, making it the main time the pinnacle two in that category respect met within the Gigantic Bowl. They’re also the wonderful two receivers with out a longer no longer as a lot as 1,200 receiving yards exterior the numbers in a season since 2007. Kupp led the NFL in receptions (145), yards (1,947) and TDs (16) this season. And now he has a handful of single-season playoff recordsdata inside of reach. He wants 161 receiving yards to pass Larry Fitzgerald‘s 546, seven catches to transfer previous Travis Kelce (31) and three TDs to tie Fitzgerald’s seven. One apartment the put he stood out this year became downfield. He had more catches (28 vs. 25) and touchdowns (seven vs. five) on vertical routes this season than in his previous four seasons mixed. After which there is Scoot, who had 81 catches for 1,455 yards and 13 TDs this season. His 279 receiving yards within the postseason are already basically the most among novices in a single playoffs, and he’s the wonderful rookie receiver to respect a couple of 100-yard receiving video games in a playoffs. And admire Kupp, he makes the vertical recreation a threat: Burrow and Scoot connected on 14 deep fade routes for 517 yards and 6 TDs — all of which had been basically the most by a duo over the final five seasons.
Laura Rutledge breaks down the total intricate stats for what you are going to be in a neighborhood to rely on between the Rams and the Bengals in Gigantic Bowl LVI.
This is the second Gigantic Bowl between groups that every executed within the backside 10 in speeding yards (2008). Nonetheless Cincinnati working encourage Joe Mixon became third within the league in speeding with 1,205 yards, and his 16 total touchdowns tied Pete Johnson for the second most in a season in franchise history.
Per NFL Next Gen Stats, Bengals safety Jessie Bates III leads the NFL in ball hawk rate (26%) for the explanation that launch of ultimate season, together with the playoffs and among players who saw no longer no longer as a lot as 75 targets.
Will Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey shadow Scoot? His absolute most life like shadow charges of the season respect all approach since Week 12 and had been against elite receivers, however the wonderful occasion of Ramsey shadowing a player more than 60% of the time became the divisional spherical (Mike Evans, 69%).
Rams receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is coming off his handiest 100-yard receiving time out in his previous 34 video games. His six receiving touchdowns with Los Angeles, together with the playoffs, are tied for the second most by a player with a crew that he joined at some level of the season. He would possibly perchance perchance tie Amari Cooper (Raiders, Cowboys) for basically the most if he catches one on Sunday.
Since 2000, there had been nine trades bright a couple of first-spherical picks being exchanged for a player, and the Rams memoir for two (Matthew Stafford and Ramsey). They’re handiest the second crew to construct the Gigantic Bowl with such players (2002 Buccaneers with Keyshawn Johnson). Stafford became the 10th quarterback received for a couple of first-rounders within the final draft generation, and his three playoff wins are as many as the diversified nine had mixed on that crew. He’s also the main to construct the Gigantic Bowl.
Rams defensive address Aaron Donald would possibly perchance perchance respect two sacks, and the Rams would possibly perchance perchance respect four as a crew. There will not be at all times in actuality a more evident mismatch in this recreation than Los Angeles’ defensive front against the Bengals’ offensive line. Donald became second within the league in pass plug defend rate at some level of but every other customarily dominant season, and the recreation’s finest defensive player will at some level purchase over Gigantic Bowl LVI to construct sure he gets his elusive ring. — Henderson
Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd would possibly perchance perchance respect seven catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. Cincinnati’s slot receiver would possibly perchance perchance obtain some favorable matchups with the Rams desirous to dangle the Bengals’ exterior receivers. Boyd also offers Burrow a short, loyal option, as Cincinnati will strive to contend with the Rams’ league-main pass plug. — Toddler
Bengals working encourage Joe Mixon would possibly perchance perchance respect more than 90 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. Six consecutive Gigantic Bowl champions respect had a working encourage post these numbers. Mixon’s speeding totals respect elevated all thru the playoffs, and he has a reception for no longer no longer as a lot as 15 yards in every of these video games. He led his crew in yards from scrimmage (115) within the AFC Championship Game, and in Sunday’s huge recreation — the put the Bengals will must alter the tempo to defend the Rams’ offense off the realm — Mixon would possibly perchance perchance as soon as more be the beneficiary. — Stephania Bell, NFL analyst
Bengals receiver Tee Higgins would possibly perchance perchance be the Gigantic Bowl MVP. He has a 53% steal rate and is averaging 7.9 yards per arrangement against man-to-man protection this season, but these numbers rocket to a 72% steal rate and 10.8 yards per arrangement against Quilt 2, Quilt 3 and Quilt 4. Why is that connected? Handiest two defenses had been in zone more customarily than Los Angeles. A huge name within the making, Higgins is centered about as customarily as Scoot and already has two huge video games at some level of the playoffs. He’s in space for but every other. — Mike Clay, NFL analyst
The quarterback matchup
Matthew Stafford, Rams
Stafford, 34, spent 12 years in Detroit sooner than joining the Rams by a transformation final offseason, and he executed 67.2% of his throws for 4,886 yards and 41 touchdown passes in twelve months 1 in L.A. And now he can join Tom Brady (2020) and Trent Dilfer (2000) as the wonderful QBs to defend the Gigantic Bowl in their first seasons with a crew. He would possibly perchance perchance also radically change the third quarterback to defend his first Gigantic Bowl after no longer no longer as a lot as 10 seasons (John Elway, Steve Young). He excelled throwing vertically this season, averaging 8.4 air yards per strive and connecting on 65 passes that went for no longer no longer as a lot as 20 yards. Nonetheless he also struggled with turnovers. He would possibly perchance perchance join Eli Manning as the wonderful regular-season interception leaders to defend the Gigantic Bowl, after he tied Trevor Lawrence with 17 this season. — ESPN
Joe Burrow, Bengals
Burrow, 25, has the probability to radically change the main football player to be drafted No. 1 general and defend a Heisman Trophy, a nationwide title and a Gigantic Bowl — and he can attain all of it in a three-year span. He led the NFL in completion percentage (70.4%) and yards per strive (8.9) this season, making him the youngest to achieve it in both classes within the identical season. Plus, his 10% off-arrangement percentage became the bottom within the NFL over the final five seasons. And after going 0-for-13 on passes thrown 30-plus yards downfield final season, Burrow has 13 such completions this season, together with playoffs, and his seven TDs on these throws respect him tied with Stafford for basically the most within the NFL. In all, Burrow threw for 4,611 yards, 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions this season, his first corpulent NFL campaign after tearing his ACL at some level of his 2020 rookie season. — ESPN
Ryan Clark discusses how Joe Burrow is unfazed enjoying in these excessive-stage playoff video games.
Be taught/assign more: Burrow’s ever-rising selection of nicknames … Veteran Lions teammates residing vicariously thru Stafford … Why Burrow performs QB admire a linebacker … Stafford giving the Rams a shot … Joe Brrr and his swag … Manning breaks down Burrow … Manning breaks down Stafford
Who wins Gigantic Bowl MVP?
Jeremy Fowler, nationwide NFL author: Scoot. The Bengals are 6-1 when Scoot goes for more than 100 yards this season. If the Bengals purchase the Gigantic Bowl, Scoot would possibly perchance perchance be the catalyst.
Dan Graziano, nationwide NFL author: Burrow. The Rams’ front gained’t build it straightforward, but Burrow is slippery ample encourage there to construct performs against L.A.’s undermanned secondary and cap off a magical second season by handing over Cincinnati’s first title.
Mina Kimes, NFL analyst: Kupp. I’ve bought the Rams winning, which would perchance perchance perchance build Stafford the more obvious respect. Nonetheless I would possibly perchance perchance also envision Stafford throwing a respect or two that keeps the recreation shut. Kupp, the triple-crown receiver, will direct a camouflage-stopping performance that’ll invent him the award.
Jason Reid, The Undefeated senior author: Donald. One amongst handiest three players in NFL history to be a three-time Defensive Player of the twelve months, Donald will wreak havoc alongside the inside of of the Bengals’ offensive line and build issues depressing for Burrow.
Seth Wickersham, NFL author: Donald. The Rams will power the Bengals to be one-dimensional, and Donald will tee off on Burrow.
Of the 76 experts who weighed in, 30 picked Burrow to defend Gigantic Bowl MVP. Survey all of our experts’ picks.
Stafford is the making a wager favorite at +120 at Caesars Sportsbook. Burrow is at +220, whereas Kupp is +700 and Scoot is +1200. Donald is +1800.
Throughout the recreation realizing
I’m keeping my peek on Aaron Donald and Von Miller against the Bengals’ pass protection. With the Rams’ zone-heavy protection, there are matchup advantages for both Donald and Miller, and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris can design defined one-on-ones or exhaust twists and stunts to heat up Burrow within the pocket. The Bengals can exhaust the speed recreation and first-down play-movement to counter the pass plug, and lets assign more seven-man protection in dropback scenarios to defend Burrow engrossing. Cincinnati will need answers against a Los Angeles front that would possibly perchance perchance defend on the perimeters and contain inside of disruption. — Matt Bowen, NFL analyst
Damien Woody and Raise Ninkovich discuss how the Bengals can dangle Aaron Donald and offer protection to Joe Burrow on Sunday.
Rams X ingredient: Andrew Whitworth, OT
The Rams’ 40-year-frail left address is coming off a stellar season and must aloof be tasked with shutting down Bengals defensive pause Trey Hendrickson, who traces up nearly completely on the offense’s left facet. Hendrickson ranked ninth in pass plug defend rate at edge and is by some distance Cincinnati’s finest pass-speeding threat. Nonetheless Whitworth ranked third in pass block defend rate at address this season and must aloof doubtlessly neutralize him. — Seth Walder, analytics author
Bengals X ingredient: Mike Hilton, CB
Brooding about Cooper Kupp traces up out huge wonderful 31% of the time when working a route, per NFL Next Gen Stats, Hilton figures to line up opposite the huge name receiver many of the time. Hilton’s nearest defender numbers had been a mixed discover, as he allowed an above-moderate yards per protection snap but also held opponents to the second-lowest total anticipated aspects added among all slot corners (postseason included). Given whom he’ll customarily be marking, or no longer it is arduous no longer to procure so a lot hinges on Hilton’s play. — Walder
Beneath-the-radar affect player: Greg Gaines, DT, Rams
It has been oft-mentioned that the Bengals will must gradual down the Rams’ pass plug. Nonetheless whereas Donald and Miller are the household names, Gaines causes all styles of ruckus and had his finest profession year as a pass-rusher this regular season. Survey out. — Arena Yates, NFL analyst
Be taught more: Bowen’s recreation plans for the methodology every crew can defend … Five stat traits to take dangle of … Ranking the pinnacle 53 players within the Gigantic Bowl … Can the Bengals gradual Donald? … Bengals no longer skittish about offensive line’s mismatch … Ramsey lobbies to shadow Scoot
Ernest Jones, ILB, Rams
The early returns on the Rams’ 2021 draft class had been disappointing, however the player who has bought basically the most snaps is Jones. Regardless of struggling an ankle damage in Week 16, Jones has been productive in spots. The third-rounder had 61 tackles and two interceptions at some level of the regular season. — Jordan Reid, NFL draft analyst
Jackson Carman, G, Bengals
Scoot became too obvious, so I will highlight Carman, the Bengals’ rookie honest guard. He would possibly perchance perchance respect a huge activity in making an attempt to defend Burrow engrossing whereas blockading Donald and the the relaxation of the Rams’ inside of defensive front. Carman, a second-spherical respect in 2021, played in all 17 video games this season and had an 87.7% pass block defend rate. — Jordan Reid
The wonderful plot to wager Gigantic Bowl LVI
Total passing yards for Stafford: Over/below 280.5
Total passing yards for Burrow: Over/below 276.5
Total sacks by both groups: Over/below 5.0
Total touchdowns within the recreation: Over/below 5.5
Teams which respect lined the spread within the Gigantic Bowl respect gained the recreation outright in every of the previous 12 Gigantic Bowls, together with final year, when the underdog Buccaneers gained as a 3-level underdog. In Gigantic Bowl history, favorites are 27-26-2 straight up. Gigantic Bowl underdogs of no longer no longer as a lot as 3.5 aspects are 6-0 against the spread and 5-1 outright since 2007. The Bengals had been 125-1 to defend the Gigantic Bowl entering the season, making them wonderful the second crew 100-1 or longer to be triumphant in it within the previous 40 seasons (the 1999 St. Louis Rams had been 150-1).
Taking a glimpse at the over/below, the previous three Gigantic Bowls fell in need of the total, the longest below dart since four straight from 2004 to 2007. All time, or no longer it is 26 overs to 27 unders and a push (there became no total in Gigantic Bowl I). — David Bearman, ESPN Chalk
Be taught more: Handiest bets … Berry’s Esteem/Detest for making a wager the Gigantic Bowl … Most fashionable bets … The props playbook … Handiest player props … Greatest bets … Making a wager nuggets … The unlikely play that would possibly perchance perchance swing hundreds of hundreds … Most heavily wager recreation ever? … Printable prop wager scorecard
Who is in, and who is out?
Coach Sean McVay did not paint an optimistic image of Tyler Higbee‘s draw when he stated Monday that he doesn’t mediate the crew’s No. 1 tight pause will discover this week. Higbee became listed as a non-participant all final week due to MCL sprain he suffered within the NFC Championship Game. (Change: Higbee is no longer going to play.) Safety Taylor Rapp, who has uncared for all three of the Rams’ playoff video games, appears to be not astray to return from the concussion he suffered in Week 18. — Henderson
Coach Zac Taylor remained hopeful that tight pause C.J. Uzomah will be in a neighborhood to play against the Rams. Uzomah has been going thru a sprained MCL in his left knee that he suffered within the AFC Championship Game against Kansas City. He hasn’t practiced, so even supposing he does play, he would possibly perchance perchance be on hand in handiest a dinky skill. (Change: Uzomah will play.) — Toddler
Meet the coaches
Sean McVay, Rams
McVay has the outlandish potential to be relatable and aloof retain americans responsible. What he has executed with Von Miller, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jalen Ramsey is noteworthy. Getting them to purchase in is a power multiplier and must aloof permit the Rams to remain competitive for years but to approach. McVay has 61 profession wins (together with playoffs), which is the third most by a coach in his first five seasons. And he would possibly perchance perchance surpass Mike Tomlin as the youngest coach to defend a Gigantic Bowl (36), per ESPN Stats & Knowledge research. — Mike Tannenbaum, NFL analyst
Zac Taylor, Bengals
Taylor spent two seasons as an assistant below McVay. I also labored with him in Miami, and he’s a tidy bid-solver who has huge power and competitiveness. The stage gained’t be too huge on Sunday, but he’ll must proceed to adapt as a strategist with the battles within the trenches. Taylor would possibly perchance perchance be the second-youngest coach ever to defend a Gigantic Bowl (38), per ESPN Stats & Knowledge research. — Tannenbaum
Be taught more: McVay, Taylor ready for reunion on wonderful stage
How the Rams, Bengals bought here
The Rams went 12-5 this season and gained the NFC West. They started the year 7-1, but November became rough for the Rams, as they lost three in a row. A Week 13 matchup with the Jaguars bought them encourage not astray for the main of 5 straight wins, together with a huge one over division-foe Arizona. In the playoffs, the Rams bought the Cardinals for a third time, beating them 34-11 within the wild-card spherical. A 30-27 defend over the Buccaneers within the divisional spherical bought them to the NFC championship, the put they beat the 49ers in beyond regular time, 20-17. They for the time being are searching for to affix final season’s Buccaneers as the wonderful groups to defend a Gigantic Bowl in their home stadium, and they’d perchance perchance radically change third franchise (Raiders, Colts) to defend Gigantic Bowls for a couple of cities after winning one in 1999 whereas aloof in St. Louis. — ESPN
Dan Orlovsky breaks down how the Rams respect heavily invested in a defend-now methodology and why a loss Sunday would possibly perchance perchance be a failure and an indictment of Sean McVay.
The 10-7 Bengals had been AFC North champs. Cincinnati hit its Week 10 bye at 5-4, but its 6-1 chronicle (together with playoffs) since Week 15 tied the Bengals with the Rams for a lot of effective chronicle within the NFL over that span. That involves an spectacular post-Christmas two-recreation stint whereby they beat the Ravens and Chiefs within the encourage of 971 passing yards from Burrow. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Cincinnati has five wins this season whereby the recreation-winning ranking came on the final play, together with playoffs — tied for the second-most such wins in a season for the explanation that 1970 merger. The Bengals saw beyond regular time four times, and all three postseason wins had been one-ranking video games. Cincinnati beat the Raiders 26-19 within the wild-card spherical, edged the Titans 19-16 within the divisional spherical and came from within the encourage of to beat the Chiefs 27-24 within the AFC championship. — ESPN
Survey: Turning Point
What to take dangle of in regards to the officiating
There is reason to mission no longer no longer as a lot as flags in this recreation. The Bengals and Rams committed the fewest and third-fewest penalties, respectively, at some level of the regular season. In six postseason video games, the groups had been flagged a entire of 31 times. And referee Ron Torbert’s regular-season crew threw the fourth-fewest flags (12.3 per recreation), and his mixed crew threw 10 flags within the divisional-spherical recreation between the 49ers and Packers. Nonetheless, referees are mainly accountable for roughing the passer and offensive keeping calls, and Torbert executed the regular season tied for the fourth-most roughing the passer flags (11) and fifth-most flags for offensive keeping (56). — Kevin Seifert, nationwide NFL author
Be taught more: Torbert to support as lead Gigantic Bowl referee
Who is enjoying the halftime camouflage?
— NFL (@NFL) January 20, 2022
Extra preview must-reads
Tranquil hungry for more Gigantic Bowl shriek? Take a look at out some more of our finest stuff from the previous two weeks.
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