Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

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Are you ready for the biggest game of the season?

Super Bowl 56 will feature two teams that everyone counted out. Although the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams were solid throughout the regular season, most pundits expected either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Green Bay Packers to represent the NFC. The Kansas City Chiefs were the favorite to represent the AFC, though many also backed the Bills. Almost nobody on the planet predicted a Super Bowl between these two franchises. Now, for the second consecutive season, a team will host and participate in the Super Bowl. Can the Los Angeles Rams do what Tom Brady and the Bucs did last season?

Although the Rams exceeded expectations, it’s not mind-blowing that they made it this far after acquiring Matthew Stafford in the preseason. This will be their second trip to the Super Bowl in the last four years. However, the Bengals have defied the odds throughout the entire season, particularly in the playoffs when they defeated the Las Vegas Raiders at home in the Wild Card Round before heading to Tennessee where they beat the top-seeded Titans in the AFC Divisional Round. Then, the craziest upset of them all occurred when Cincinnati overcame an 18-point deficit to beat Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrow Head. Nobody ever gave the Bengals a chance, yet here we are, with the big game just days away and Cincinnati slight underdogs in the game for all the marbles. This is Cincinnati’s first Super Bowl appearance since 1988. I wasn’t even born yet!

Enough of my salivating over what Zac Taylor and Joe Burrow have done with this Bengals franchise in just a short period of time. We are here to look at the odds, analyze the matchups, and make some cash-winning picks. This postseason, we are 9-3 overall against the spread and 10-2 on moneyline picks. Let’s finish this wild season with a bang as we gear up for our Super Bowl 56 betting preview.

Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals (+4.5)

Although the Rams are technically listed as the visitor, the Los Angeles crowd will be going crazy at SoFi Stadium. This is not a neutral stadium by any stretch of the imagination. The Rams are used to playing on this field and the fans will do everything they can to make Cincinnati’s offensive line commit false starts. That said, the Bengals are a well-coached organization in all three phases of the game and they are game-planning to deal with the noise. Cincinnati had to win their last two contests on the road to get to this point, including their last victory at Arrow Head, so I don’t think the Bengals’ offense will be flustered by the Los Angeles crowd.

Although the Bengals opened as 4-point underdogs, the spread has increased to 4.5 points at some sportsbooks after the majority of the money was backing the Rams. However, that half-point could make a significant difference when it comes to who will cover the spread. Many have been saying that “Super Bowl LVI is shaping up to be a classic ‘David vs. Goliath’ matchup,” but I don’t believe the Rams are the far superior team. Yes, they have the home-field advantage but plenty of Cincinnati fans will be in the stands. Yes, the Rams had the better regular-season record but the Bengals had a much tougher road to the Big Game. While some say the odds are stacked against the Bengals, I think this is going to be a dog fight that comes down to the final few minutes of the game. Anybody who thinks the Rams are going to blow the Bengals out hasn’t been watching Joe Burrow this year.

Let’s take a look at the moneyline, spread, and Over/Under numbers to better understand how to analyze this matchup.

Please Note: These numbers were updated on Wednesday, February 9 at 1:00 PM. Be sure to check for changes before submitting your wagers.

Interestingly enough, these teams have been almost identical when it comes to points scored and point allowed. Both scored 27.1 points per game in the regular season while the Rams allowed 0.2 fewer points per game in the regular season (22.1 to 21.9). The total, which opened at 50, has dropped to 48.5 following strong support backing the under. It makes sense that sportsbooks have set the total here considering each team averaged about 49 combined points per game during the regular season.

Although each team is much more efficient in the passing game than the rushing game despite talented running backs, there are some trends that suggest this won’t be the high-scoring affair that some pundits have predicted. Did you know that the Under has hit in each of Cincinnati’s last seven postseason games? Cincinnati has failed to hit the Over in five of their last six games as an underdog as well. Plus, in two of the three playoff games that the Rams participated in, the Under hit. Some may say these trends are just random facts. But studying these types of trends is exactly what led me to such a profitable postseason.

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While I do believe that each team will rely on their respective aerial attacks rather than the running game, there will still be a fairly balanced approach from each offensive coordinator. No team wants to become predictable in the biggest game of the season. Los Angeles has one of the most dominant and fearsome defensive lines with Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd, not to mention the mid-season signing of Vonn Miller coming off the edge. Burrow will need to get the ball out quickly if he doesn’t want to get chased around all night like Patrick Mahomes did last year against the Bucs.

Los Angeles' defense has been lights out this postseason, particularly against the run, allowing just 54 rushing yards per game. They will need to keep the pressure up against the talented Joe Mixon. Mixon, who finished third in the NFL in rushing yards (1,205) and fourth in rushing touchdowns (13), posted his best rushing game in two months, gaining 88 yards on the ground in the AFC Championship. Something tells me that Mixon won’t have the same type of success against the Rams as he did against the Chiefs. Kansas City was very vulnerable against the run while Los Angeles has shut down opposing teams running backs fairly easily as of late. In fact, Los Angeles has not allowed a running back to break 100 yards in 16 consecutive contests. For this reason, the Bengals’ passing game will need to be on point, especially if they give up an early lead.

Joe Mixon Joe Mixon, Cincinnati BengalsGetty Images

Ja’Marr Chase will see a lot of Jalen Ramsey in the secondary but the Bengals will find ways to get the ball into the hands of their most talented playmaker. Tee Higgins also erupted this season, so Los Angeles can’t forget about the dangerous second-year wideout. And Tyler Boyd is an underrated slot receiver who doesn’t get the attention he deserves given the athleticism of his teammates. It was also encouraging to hear C.J. Uzomah say that he will not sit out of this game despite spraining his MCL two weeks ago. He may not be at full strength, but the tight end has been a particularly dangerous weapon on third down and in the red zone. It is clear that Cincinnati will rely on their passing game but they have only averaged 24 points per game in the postseason. So don’t expect fireworks.

On the other side of the ball, Matthew Stafford has put his turnover struggles behind him with a 6:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his club’s three victories in the playoffs. He has even added two rushing touchdowns. Without Stafford, the Rams would not be here. However, the Rams will face a Bengals secondary that has forced six interceptions in the postseason. The Bengals’ defense has picked off a quarterback in four of their previous five outings. It’s not that the Bengals are that talented in the secondary, it’s more that they take advantage of mistakes. Stafford will have to continue to play mistake-free football if the Rams are going to lift the Lombardi Trophy. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rams won despite one interception thrown but Stafford cannot turn the ball over twice.

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Cooper Kupp will be the player the Bengals have to approach very carefully. Kupp had an unbelievable season, leading all wideouts in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. And he’s been just as unstoppable in the postseason with 25 receptions for 388 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Given all the attention that Kupp will garner, Odell Beckham has a great chance to impress in the biggest game of the season. Following Robert Woods’ season-ending ACL injury, Beckham has now caught a touchdown in six of the team’s 11 games. In the NFC Championship, he surpassed the century mark for this first time all year. Beckham is clearly gaining rapport with Stafford. Tight end, Tyler Higbee, could prove to be pivotal as well.

The Rams may have all three of their talented running backs healthy for the first time all season. Darrell Henderson seems to be on pace to return, Cam Akers has been back for a few weeks now, and Sony Michel continues to see some usage. Still, Akers fumbled twice against the Bucs in the Divisional Round and although he’s shown flashes of brilliance, he has also failed to surpass 55 rushing yards in any of his four outings since returning from what was expected to be a season-ending injury. Just like the Bengals, the Rams will rely heavily on the pass, though I think they will be a bit more balanced than the Bengals. However, due to Los Angeles’ propensity to turn the ball over, I think the Bengals will keep this game close.

I like the Under for all the reasons stated above, but what about the spread? The Bengals have covered the spread in seven consecutive matchups and are 5-0 in their last five games against the spread as an underdog. This bodes well for Cincinnati, especially since the Rams are 2-5 ATS in their last seven postseason games as the favorite.

That said, football is a game of inches and it is won in the trenches. I am worried about Cincinnati’s offensive line holding up against Aaron Donald and the rest of Los Angeles’ dominant defensive line. The Bengals could end up too one-dimensional for Joe Burrow to pull off another miracle. While I expect the Bengals to cover, the Rams life the Lombardi Trophy in front of their home crowd for the second consecutive year. I am following the "smart money" with all three of my game picks. Sometimes, I like to fade the public but it's clear that the big-money gamblers are thinking exactly the way I am, which is a good sign. Let's finish the season on a strong note with the picks below.

The Picks:

  • Under 48.6 Points (-110)
  • Bengals +4.5 (-110)
  • Rams ML (-199)
Prediction: 24-23 Rams

Bengals-Rams Game Information

  • Location: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CA
  • Date: Sunday, February 13, 2022
  • Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: NBC
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After three consecutive victories, the Golden State Warriors conceded Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals to the Dallas Mavericks. In Game 5, the Warriors will look to close out Luka Doncic and the Mavs in front of the home crowd. As a team, the Warriors were efficient from the field, converting 48.8% of their shots taken. One of the main reasons Golden State lost was a result of poor free-throw shooting. The Warriors missed nine of their 27 free throws on Tuesday night (65.4 FT%). In comparison, the Mavericks were full-throttle in Game 4 facing elimination. Dallas’ Reggie Bullock (18 PTS) and Dorian Finney Smith (23 PTS) combined for 42 points, adding to Luka’s 30.

Ultimately, no team has ever come back from a 3-0 lead in the playoffs, meaning that the Warriors will almost certainly be heading back to the NBA Finals. Let’s take a look at what the best bets are for tonight’s Game 5.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 2:00 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors -6.5 (GSW Leads 3-1)

Bet #1: Dallas Mavericks, +6.5 (-110)

We like Dallas to keep it close. Perhaps Dallas has a 10-point lead going into the third quarter which the Warriors could then overtake in the second half. Regardless of the scenario, the Mavericks won against a Warriors team that still put up 109 points in Game 4 on close to 50% shooting from the field. Dallas shot above 50% from the field in Game 4 and took many shots to get there just like they did in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semis against the Phoenix Suns. Even Jalen Brunson said in the post-game interview with the guys from Inside the NBA that his team needs to "take it one game at a time (...) like four Game 7s."

While the Warriors are in it to win it tonight, the Mavericks seem to perform best when facing elimination this 2022 postseason. While they might lose tonight, the Mavericks seem to play well under pressure. As a result, take them +7 tonight as the Warriors will have a bigger challenge on their hands than they anticipate.

Bet #2: Over 215.5 Total Points (-110)

In two of the series’ four games, both teams combined for at least 220 points. In Game 2, 243 points were scored while in Game 4, there were 228 points tallied. The Mavericks shoot more when facing elimination. This has been a trend we have seen throughout the postseason. In Game 7 of the Western Conference Semis, the Mavericks scored 123 points while in Game 4 against the Warriors on Tuesday, Dallas scored 119 points. Not much more needs to be said about the Warriors’ high-power offense that will likely outscore Dallas regardless of how many points they get on the board.

NBA Player Props of the Night

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors -6.5 (GSW Leads 3-1)

Prop #1: Dorian Finney-Smith Over 11.5 Points

Dorian Finney-Smith erupted for 23 points in Game 4 to help the Mavericks rally past the Warriors. Throughout the 2022 playoffs, he’s averaged 11.6 PPG shooting 46.5% from the field. He’s also seeing 38.2 minutes per contest this postseason. Expect Finney-Smith to score at least 12 points tonight after his 23-points in Game 4.

Prop #2: Klay Thompson Over 18.5 Points

Klay Thompson was held to 12 points scored in Game 4. Despite going 5-of-10 from the field, Klay was limited by Dallas on defense in 28 minutes on the floor on Tuesday night. He should definitely be taking more shots tonight and perform better overall being back home for a Game 5. Thompson should easily hit at least 20+ points tonight, and take a handful more shots from the field in this contest than in Tuesday’s.

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Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Tom Pennington, Getty Images

In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Bam Adebayo's 31-point and 10-rebound double-double led the Miami Heat to a 109-103 victory over the Celtics on the road. That was followed by a dominant second-half performance by Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins who led the Warriors to a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals.

Tonight, we'll get the first of these two matchups. Boston will look to come back in their second home game against a Heat team that is clearly not at 100% healthy. Tyler Herro has been ruled out for Game 4 while Kyle Lowry remains questionable. Here are some of the best bets for tonight's and tomorrow's big Game 4s.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 3:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

ECF Game 4: Miami Heat at Boston Celtics -7 (MIA Leads 2-1)

In Game 4, the Celtics rallied back from double-digits to make things interesting in the fourth quarter. However, Boston conceded Game 3 to the Miami Heat 109-103. On Sunday, Bam Adebayo was getting everything he wanted down low. He finished with 31 points, 10 boards, six assists, four steals, and one block. Ime Udoka will need to boost the presence of his big men down low, perhaps by extending Daniel Theis’ minutes or having him share the floor more with Al Horford. The major reason for which the Heat are considered the seven-point underdogs for tonight’s game is injuries. Tyler Herro has already been ruled out for Game 4, and the Heat have four or five other players in their lineup currently listed as questionable. This includes Max Struss, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, and P.J. Tucker. Butler is dealing with knee inflammation which sidelined him for the second half of Game 3.

Even if all of the players in the Heat’s rotation are good to go tonight (outside of Herro), Boston has not lost back-to-back home games since late October. Plus, Jaylen Brown is shooting much better than he did earlier in the postseason. In fact, he’s elevated his shooting to 50% from the field through the 2021-22 playoffs through 14 games played. Expect Boston to bounce back big in Game 4, with multiple players on the Miami Heat not at full strength.

The Pick: Boston Celtics -7 (-110)

WCF Game 4: Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)

Well, it’s looking like the Golden State Warriors are returning to the NBA Finals. With the emergence of Jordan Poole late this season and into the postseason, Andrew Wiggins’ First-Team All-Star season, and Klay Thompson’s return to basketball, Golden State has been simply phenomenal. Golden State is simply that good this year, with anyone on the team capable of stepping up. Stephen Curry erupted in Game 3, while it was Andrew Wiggins that caught fire in the second half of Game 4. Any given night, the Warriors have one or two guys who they can count on for scoring approximately 25+ points. Considering the Mavericks' struggles this round, particularly behind the three-point line, bettors should go with the Warriors as the slight underdog. Teams get swept sometimes. Just ask the Brooklyn Nets. The Warriors will bring out the brooms and sweep the Mavericks as they punch their ticket to the NBA Finals Tuesday night.

The Pick: Golden State Warriors ML -104

NBA Player Props

Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)

Prop #1: Stephen Curry, Over 27.5 Points

Stephen Curry has scored 31 points and 32 points over the last two games. He’s done so by converting at least 50% from the field in each contest. It makes sense that he would score at least 28 points in a series-clinching victory tomorrow night. Curry is averaging 27.1 PPG on 45.9% this postseason but has certainly put up more points and done so more efficiently over the last few games.

Prop #2: Luka Doncic, Over 3.5 Threes

Luka has drained nine three-pointers over the last two games. He’s knocked down at least four threes in three of his last four contests. Facing elimination and hoping to not let down the home crowd in back-to-back home playoff games, Doncic will convert at least four baskets from downtown in Game 4.

Tyler Herro (Left), Bam Adebayo (Right), Miami Heat

Getty Images

Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and the Miami Heat held their own against the Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Likewise, Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Curry led the Warriors to a 112-87 blowout over Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Tonight, the Celtics play their second game on the road against the Heat. On Friday night, the Mavericks will look to bounce back after shooting horrifically in Game 1.

Let’s take a look at the best bets for the two NBA Conference Final Game 2 matchups set for 8:30 PM EST. tonight and 9:00 PM EST. tomorrow night.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 4:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)

After a nail-biting series with the Milwaukee Bucks that the Celtics won in grandiose fashion, Boston conceded Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat. Tonight, they play Game 2 of the series at the FTX Arena and hope to bounce back from Tuesday’s 11-point loss. One of the principal reasons for their defeat in Game 1 was the absence of Marcus Smart (foot sprain) and Al Horford (health & safety protocols). It remained a relatively close game until the third quarter in which the Celtics were outscored 14-3 to begin the second half. Derrick White filled in for Marcus Smart and was terribly inefficient from the field. He scored three points (1-4 FG) and had four assists in 29 minutes filling in for the Defensive Player of the Year. In contrast, Max Struss and Gabe Vincent did a terrific job of filling in for Kyle Lowry, combining for 28 points on 9-of-19 shooting. In addition, Tyler Herro had a good night with a pivotal 18 points (7-15 FG) off the bench. Fortunately for the Celtics, both Smart and Horford are expected to return tonight.

Head Coach Ime Udoka indicated to reporters today that Smart was probable to play this evening. Horford was cleared of health and safety protocols today making him available for tonight’s contest. For those of you who have watched the Celtics this postseason, Horford and Smart have upped their play and have been absolutely integral to the team’s success. Tonight, let’s take the Boston Celtics to take a game on the road in the same fashion that they took two road games from the Bucks in the last series.

The Pick: Boston Celtics ML +108

Tonight's Best NBA Player Props

Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)

Prop#1: Gabe Vincent Over 9.5 Points
In Game 1 without Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent scored 17 points in 34 minutes on 50% shooting from the field. As Kyle Lowry is out again for Game 2 tonight, expect Vincent to score at least 10 points. Vincent has performed admirably while filling in for the veteran. Even when Lowry returns, it's quite possible that Erik Spoelstra will give some of Lowry's minutes to Vincent.
Prop#2: Al Horford Over 9.5 Points
After five straight double-digit scoring performances, Al Horford scored eight points or fewer in the last three games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Bucks. He missed Game 1 of the Celtics' series against the Miami Heat after entering Health & Safety protocols. Since he was only out for one game, he shouldn't face any minute restrictions tonight. Horford should score at least 10 points in 30+ minutes on the floor.

Tomorrow Night's Best NBA Bet

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State -6 (GSW Leads 1-0)

Dallas was annihilated by Golden State in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. This comes after the Mavs blew out the Phoenix Suns on the road in impressive fashion, punching their ticket to the next round of the playoffs for a series against the Warriors. Golden State shot an impressive 56.1% from the field in the opening game and finished with 112 points. Just as important as the offensive production, Golden State clamped down on defense. The Warriors contained Luka Doncic, who converted just six of his 18 field goals on his way to 20 points. Andrew Wiggins did an excellent job guarding the young playmaker. Luka's teammates didn't help out much either as the Mavericks shot 36% from the field in Game 1, and 22.9% from downtown (11-48 3PT FG) for just 87 points on the night.

While I think the Warriors will win again on Friday night, expect the Mavericks to keep things more interesting after such an abysmal night shooting from the field. Dallas will make the adjustments needed to make this a competitive Game 2 in the Bay area.

The Pick: Dallas Mavericks +6 (-110)

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