Super Bowl 56 Betting Preview: Odds, Lines, Predictions

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 MixonJoe 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

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