On Feb. 13, the Cincinnati Bengals will be traveling to SoFi Stadium to play the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI. SoFi Stadium is located in Inglewood, California and is home to the Rams. This will be the second consecutive year that a team will be competing for the championship on their home turf. Last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosted the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Field and produced a monumental win, capturing the recently retired NFL legend Tom Brady’s seventh ring. Prior to the 2020 Super Bowl, no team had ever played for the championship at their home field.

Sports bettors have taken the Rams as the favorite in this match-up, but that kind of doubt is nothing new for the Bengals. The wild card victory against the Las Vegas Raiders snapped a 33 year playoff win drought for the Bengals and rebranded themselves as true championship contenders. Led by sophomore quarterback Joe Burrow, the Bengals high powered offense has been a force to be reckoned with all season. They have averaged 27.1 points per game, which is 5.2 points per game higher than the Rams at 21.9. They battled back to win the American Football Conference championship game against the Chiefs, and they show no signs of slowing down. Burrow is no stranger to big time games, having won the national championship with Louisiana State University before departing to the NFL. To deepen the competition for the Rams, he brought his number one target from college, Ja’Marr Chase, with him into the professional scene. Despite being a rookie, Chase has impressed many by ranking fourth in the league in receiving yards and third in touchdowns. Accompanying Chase in a standout rookie class for the Bengals is their star kicker Evan Mc'pherson. McPherson has knocked in two game-winning field goals this postseason against the Raiders and the Chiefs, and he currently holds the record for most field goals made in a single postseason without a miss. If he continues this high production he may even cement himself as a Bengals' legend, and there is no better opportunity to show his abilities than in the biggest game of the season. 

The Rams have their work cut out for them, but luckily they also have head coach, Sean McVay, who has seen this stage before. In 2019, the Rams lost the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots with a score of 13-3. The entire game was a battle of the defenses, but halfway through the fourth quarter Tom Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski for a 29 yard completion to set up an easy touchdown to Sony Michel. Michel, who scored the deciding touchdown for the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, will now be wearing the blue and gold for the Rams this time around. Another new face for the Rams in this championship contest is their quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was traded for Jared Goff this past offseason. Stafford spent 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions, who never came close to the playoffs, and he is now preparing for the game of his life. As mentioned above, Burrow and Chase have been one of the most electrifying quarterback-wide receiver duos in the league, but no one can deny the production seen from Stafford and his number one receiver, Cooper Kupp. Kupp has put together one of the best receiving years in recent history and became the first player since 2005 to complete the "triple crown" of receiving stats; meaning he ranks number one in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns this season. As for the defense in Los Angeles, their weapons on the defensive line and secondary may be scarier than their leading receiver or star quarterback. Headlining the Rams defense is three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, and five-time pro-bowler Jalen Ramsey. Donald and Ramsey have dominated for so much of their careers, and are joining talents the hopes of capturing a title that has eluded both of them. Donald was a member of the 2019 Rams Super Bowl loss, and Ramsey lost the AFC championship game against the Patriots in 2018 while still playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fortunately they don’t have to play Brady or the Patriots this time around, but the Bengals are no walk in the park.

With so much talent on both sides of the ball, this Super Bowl is set to be one of the most exciting sporting events of the year. The Rams came into the season knowing that the Super Bowl was obtainable for them as they put together a winning roster. The Bengals, in comparison, came into this season hoping to string some solid results together; even Burrow admitted that he was surprised to be in this position considering his initial view of the 2021 season. The Rams have had a clear road to the Super Bowl, but the Bengals may be the Cinderella story to snatch it away. Analysts, coaches, players, and fans can only speculate about who is going to prevail, but no matter the result this match-up is must watch television.