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

Andrew Wiggins and Jayson Tatum

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In Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the Warriors defended the home floor to take a 3-2 lead in the finals over the Boston Celtics. Largely, this is because Boston was careless with the basketball. The Warriors tallied nine steals and forced 18 turnovers by the Celtics. In contrast, the Warriors only got the ball stolen twice and turned the ball over just six times Monday night. While Stephen Curry was guarded ferociously and was held to just 16 points on 7-of-22 shooting (and 0-9 from downtown), his teammates stepped up.

Andrew Wiggins had another huge double-double, scoring 26 points (12-23 FG) and hauling in 13 rebounds. Finally, if the Celtics hope to win in Game 6, they will need to stay awake in the fourth quarter. Over the last two games, Boston has fallen asleep at the end of the game while the Warriors managed to sneak away with two consecutive victories.

Let's take a look at some of tonight's best bets for this huge NBA Finals Game 6.

Please Note: All betting odds were correct today as of 2:00 pm EST from Caesars Sportsbook

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Best Bets of the Night

Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics -4 (GSW Leads 3-2)

NBA Finals Best Bet #1: Boston Celtics -4 (-110)

It’s difficult to envision the Boston Celtics collapsing in the fourth quarter in three consecutive games. The Celtics may briefly watch the tape from Game 5 but they are going to have to shake it off and move forward immediately. Boston’s carelessness with the basketball Monday night should produce a much-needed wake-up call that will allow the team to make smarter passes and take fewer risks on offense against a Golden State defense that has surged over the last two games.

While Steph will likely score more than 16 points in Game 6, Jaylen Brown must have a bounce-back performance after going 5-of-18 for 18 points in Game 5. Though the Celtics shot above 40% from the field on Monday night, they turned the ball over at an uncharacteristic rate, finishing the night with 18 turnovers. Some of those were unforced errors while the Warriors earned nine steals as well.

At home in Game 6, the Celtics will play better and bring this 2022 NBA Finals series to a blockbuster Game 7 at the Chase Center. For NBA fans wishing for a seven-game series in the 2022 Finals and bettors looking to cash in on Game 6, Boston will win by at least four points at home in a win-or-go-home scenario. Jayson Tatum has yet to play his best basketball this series with Andrew Wiggins playing lethal defense but tonight will be the night that he finally drops 30+ points. Although Steve Kerr seems to think his squad is ready to close out the series, he may have to think again given how well Boston has bounced back from losses this postseason.

Don’t forget that the Celtics were in a three-game to two-game deficit against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals yet found a way to come out victorious. They may not be able to win two straight against Golden State but it’s tough to imagine the Warriors defeating the Celtics in three consecutive matchups. Boston wins by a few possessions: 110-104.

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NBA Finals Best Bet #2: Over (O/U) 210 Total Points (-110)

Though only 204 points were scored between both teams in Game 5 (BOS 97 - 107 GSW), Game 6 will be a higher-scoring contest for multiple reasons. First, Jaylen Brown will have a bounce-back night. After being held to 18 points on 27.8% shooting from the field on Monday, Brown will almost certainly play more efficiently and score more in Game 6. Additionally, Boston had way fewer scoring opportunities due to their whopping 18 turnovers. Ima Udoke will make sure his starters take care of the ball in a game that can decide Boston’s fate. Marcus Smart and Al Horford have come up huge as role players but Tatum needs to really shift into an entirely new gear. Don’t be surprised if that happens tonight.

The story through Games 4 and 5 has been the same. Golden State has stepped it up on defense, managing to out-rebound the Celtics in both contests. Robert Williams III might have something to say about that tonight. In Game 6, the Celtics should be more cautious with the ball and therefore have more opportunities than they did over the last two contests. Meanwhile, the Warriors are always expected to drop at least 105+ points.

NBA Player Props

Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics -4 (GSW Leads 3-2)

Prop #1: Andrew Wiggins To Record a Double-Double (+225)

Throughout these NBA Finals, Andrew Wiggins has been on an absolute tear. Just over the last two contests where he finished both with double-doubles, he’s recorded 29 rebounds and 43 points. He has adapted his style of play and is spending more time down low in the post to help the Warriors out on the glass. Wiggins is putting significant pressure on Robert Williams III, Al Horford, and Jayson Tatum to rebounds the ball more efficiently. Not only is Wiggins keeping his scoring numbers up, he’s drastically improved on the defensive end to record 49 rebounds (9.8 rebounds per game in the Finals) through the first five games of this series. Wiggins’ shift to focus on rebounding and keeping the pressure down low has worked brilliantly for the Warriors over the last two games, both of which they won. In Game 6, expect him to continue to do what has been working, giving him a great chance to produce a third consecutive double-double in the NBA Finals. Perhaps he can even win the NBA Finals MVP Award if he continues to play at this level. Wiggins has been the true x-factor for the Dubs in this series.

Prop #2: Jaylen Brown Over 24.5 Points (-110)

After a rough shooting night in Game 5 where Brown only converted on five of his 18 shots from the field, he should wake up and score 25+ points in Game 6 at TD Garden. While you may want to stick away from three-point shooting props involving brown right now, he’ll hit the over in points tonight at the TD Garden. Brown has only scored over 24 points in one of five games this series (27 points in Game 3) but the Celtics do much better when Brown and Tatum perform like the perennial All-Stars that they are.

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Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

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In Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Finals, Stephen Curry and the Warriors executed exactly where they didn’t in Game 3 to tie up the series 2-2. Notably, Golden State dominated down low Friday night after being outrebounded and suffocated by the Celtics in Game 3. As a team, the Warriors recorded 16 offensive boards for a total of 55 rebounds for the night. For instance, Draymond Green struggled Wednesday night to finish the night with only four rebounds and three assists before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

In Game 4, Draymond dominated down low for eight rebounds, eight assists, and four steals without getting himself into foul trouble (only three PFs for Green in Game 4 after fouling out in Game 3).

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors - 4 (-110)

Similar to Game 3, both teams shot the ball rather evenly. The Warriors finished the night with 44% shooting from the field, and 34.9% from downtown. The Celtics converted 40% of the field goal attempts and 39.5% of their shots from deep. One factor which helped Golden State keep up with the Celtics throughout the game was terrific rebounding. Andrew Wiggins stepped it up off the glass to produce a 17-point and 16-rebound double-double. What really caused the Celtics to lose in Game 3 was a complete offensive collapse in the fourth quarter.

With seven minutes remaining in the game, the Celtics had a 91-86 lead over Golden State. That means Boston was outscored 21-6 in the second half of the fourth quarter to lose Game 4 107-97. With Golden State back home, expect their offense to shoot better than they did on the road and secure a home victory in Game 5.

Bet: Golden State Warriors -4 (-110)

Throughout the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the Warriors shot 49.4% from the field and 40.7% from downtown in 11 games played at home. For their nine road games, the Warriors were less efficient on average averaging 47.2 FG% (2.2% less efficient from the field) and 34.9% (-5.8% less efficient from 3PT range). The numbers reveal clearly that for the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the Warriors have been more efficient scoring. With the prospect of taking a 3-2 lead over the Celtics, its likely that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have another big night in front of the home crowd.

Bet: Over (O/U) 212.5 Total Points (-110)

While only 204 points were scored in Game 4, expect Game 5 to be a much higher-scoring game. In addition to the Warriors shooting much better from the field, the team seems to have found some efficiency against the bigger Celtics down low. These two factors could push the Warriors to score 120+ points in Game 5. In turn, Jayson Tatum who scored 23 points (8-23 FG) will bounce back to have a 30+ point game. Both he and Steph are scoring big these NBA Finals.

While the defense was the main story of Games 3 and 4 at the TD Garden, scoring buckets will be the principal feature of Game 5 at the Chase Center. With him and Stephen Curry averaging more than 34 PPG through these finals, you can count on Game 5 in Golden State to be a high-scoring game.

NBA Player Props

Game: Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors - 4 (-110)

Prop: Jayson Tatum, Over 26.5 Points

Jayson Tatum, like the rest of the Celtics, started hot but finished ice cold. If it wasn’t for the fourth quarter where Tatum shot the ball multiple times unsuccessfully. This negatively impacted his shooting numbers from Game 4 where he finished the night with 23 points (8-23 FG) converting only 34.9% of his shots taken. After a disappointing Friday night, Tatum will shoot more efficiently in Game 5. Since he still scored 23 points on an off-night, you can count on Tatum to score 30+ points in Game 5 even if the Warriors defeat the Celtics.

Prop: Andrew Wiggins, Over 6.5 Rebounds

One of the major adjustments made by the Warriors in Game 4 was boosting their presence off the glass. Andrew Wiggins recorded 16 of Golden State’s 55 rebounds Friday night.

Through the first four games of the NBA Finals, Wiggins has recorded a total of 34 rebounds. That means Wiggins is averaging 8.5 rebounds per game in the 2022 NBA Finals. Especially because the Warriors know how effective he was producing much-needed rebounds in Game 4, Wiggins will look to have a similar presence down-low in Game 5.

Boston Celtics, NBA Finals Game 3

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In Game 3, both teams shot almost equally well from the field and from downtown. However, Boston took more shots from the field and dominated off the glass to take Game 3 116-100. Boston’s defensive energy was on full display Wednesday night as they outrebounded and drew countless fouls from the Warriors. Boston’s defense was the story of Game 3. Will Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry overwhelm the Celtics in Game 4?

Let’s take a look at some of tonight’s best bets for Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Finals.

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Best Bets of the Night

Game: Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics Game 4 (BOS Leads 2-1)

In Game 3, both teams shot virtually as efficiently from the field. The Celtics converted 48.3% of their shots (43-89 FG) from the field and went 37.1% from downtown. Golden State finished the night with a 46.2 FG% (36-78 FG) as a team, converting 37.5% from beyond the arc. The main reason for the Celtics’ victory was fantastic defense. For instance, Robert Williams III who isn’t 100% healthy, played 26 minutes to produce 10 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks. The Celtics dominated the Warriors off the glass to record 47 rebounds as a team with 15 of them recorded on the offensive end. In contrast, the Warriors totaled 31 rebounds on the game and only had six offensive rebounds. In addition, the Warriors committed 23 personal fouls allowing the Celtics to go to the line 24 times (Celtics were 17-24 FT) and had 16 turnovers as a team. For the Warriors to bounce back in Game 4, they will need to be more aggressive down low and less sloppy on the floor.

Bet #1: Golden State Warriors, +4 (-110)

The Warriors shot the ball well in Game 3, but were simply overwhelmed by the Celtics defense and the energy at the TD Garden Wednesday night. Golden State recorded 39 combined turnovers (16) and personal fouls (23) which demonstrates how sloppy they were with the basketball. This gave Boston a possession advantage throughout the game, ultimately allowing the Celtics to take 11 more field goal attempts and finish the night with seven more made FGs than the Warriors. Offensive efficiency is not the issue for the Warriors. Rather, they will need to ramp it up on defense in Game 4 to make the game interesting. Draymond Green fouled out of the contest after being shut down all night. Green was held to just two points, four rebounds, three assists, and two turnovers in 35 minutes on the floor before getting a sixth personal foul in Game 3.

Bet #2: Over (O/U) 215 Total Points (-110)

Though the Warriors were held to 100 points of offense on Wednesday night, they shot the ball well. Golden State was limited as a team for FGAs as a result of Boston’s defense. In Game 4, Golden State will have an answer to put up more points on the board than they did in Game 3. In turn, the Celtics will keep things interesting. Expect this Game 4 to be a high-scoring contest. Both teams have been scoring big throughout these playoffs, and that doesn't seem to be changing right now during the Finals.

NBA Player Props

Game: Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics Game 4 (BOS Leads 2-1)

Prop #1: Klay Thompson, Over 19.5 Points

Klay Thompson started the night shooting very well but cooled down towards the end. He went five for a whopping 13 attempts from downtown Wednesday night. He finished the night 7-of-17 from the field for 25 points. This comes after a terrible Game 2 performance where Klay went 4-of-19 from the field and only one-of-eight from beyond-the-arc. Tonight, Klay will shoot better tonight after an average Game 3 performance and bad Games 1 and 2.

Prop #2: Jaylen Brown, Over 2.5 Threes

Jaylen Brown has been knocking his shots from downtown as of late. In the last two games, he’s recorded at least three threes. He’s gone 7-of-17 (41.1%) from downtown through Games 2 and 3 combined. In the second of two home games at the TD Garden, it’s likely that Brown knocks down at least three buckets from beyond-the-arc tonight in Game 4.

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