Rams vs. Bengals is hardly the Super Bowl 56 matchup football fans predicted way back in the 2021 preseason.
In fact, Los Angeles carried the sixth-best odds to win the Super Bowl (+1500), according to the FanDuel Sportsbook’s odds going into Week 1, while Cincinnati was a true longshot at +12000, ahead of only the Jaguars, Lions and Texans (which make up the top three picks in the 2022 NFL Draft order).
Fast-forward five months and a Joe Burrow-led crusade established the Bengals as a true championship contender after upsetting the top two seeds in the AFC. And according to two of Sporting News’ NFL experts, it will end with Burrow and Co. hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in 2022.
Los Angeles (12-5) opened as a 3.5-point favorite to beat Cincinnati (10-7). That line has continued to shift toward the Rams, resting at -4 as of Monday, as the “home team” awaits the underdog challenger at SoFi Stadium. The SN staff also sees an offensive showcase surpassing the Vegas point total (49), with four of six writers projecting the over.
Below are all of our expert picks for Super Bowl 56, complete with explanations for each pick and score predictions for Rams vs. Bengals.
Super Bowl 2022 predictions: Expert picks for Rams vs. Bengals
- Location: Los Angeles
- Kickoff time: 6:30 p.m. ET
- TV: NBC
- Point spread: Rams -4
- Over/under: 49
- Moneyline: Rams -194, Bengals +162
Vinnie Iyer: The Bengals are in Super Bowl 56 because of their good fortune in landing Joe Burrow No. 1 overall in the NFL draft. His breakout second season and smashed expectations and beyond his excellent passing, his leadership, smarts and gritty playmaker have a great energetic effect on the entire team.
Cincinnati’s youth will serve it well to take down the Rams, who will make a few more mistakes with Matthew Stafford as Burrow’s opposite No. 9. The Bengals’ defense gets key takeaways to support Burrow, while Burrow makes the clutch plays vs. the Rams D late.
Prediction: Bengals 30, Rams 27
Bill Bender: The Bengals can pull off this upset, especially if the defense holds up. Cincinnati allowed just one play of 20 yards or more against the Chiefs, and if the Rams can’t find some success on the ground the pass rush will tee off. Joe Burrow, meanwhile, must continue to play mistake-free football against the Rams’ pass rush, which will be problematic up the middle with Aaron Donald. Which team wins the rushing battle? Even if they are modest numbers, it matters in a game of this magnitude.
Burrow will offer a glimpse of the future with Ja’Marr Chase, and the Bengals will lead at halftime.
That’s when Matthew Stafford, who is completing 72% of his passes in the postseason, will have his moment. Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. continue to stress the Bengals’ secondary, and Stafford throws a TD to each in the second half. The Bengals have a last-chance drive, but the Rams come up with the stop in the clutch in yet another three-point game to cap off a memorable postseason.
Prediction: Rams 27, Bengals 24
Matt Lutovsky: The Bengals have a “Team of Destiny” feel, but it’s tough to block out their one glaring weakness: Offensive line. They were able to overcome nine sacks in the divisional round against Tennessee, then handled Kansas City’s pressure with comparative ease in the AFC Championship game. The Rams, who finished third in the league with 50 QB takedowns this year, will be their toughest test yet.
With Aaron Donald and company consistently in Joe Burrow’s face, the Bengals’ talented trio of WRs will have a more difficult time ripping off chunk plays. Cincinnati could certainly grind out another win with well-timed screens and Joe Mixon’s tough running, but L.A. should be able to move the ball a little easier with its own stellar receiving corps and more creative playcalling.
As is often the case, turnovers will be key. If Matthew Stafford can avoid the big mistake in the biggest game of his life, the Rams should be able to hold down the Bengals just enough to earn their second Super Bowl title.
Prediction: Rams 24, Bengals 20
Joe Rivera: The Bengals have done the near impossible to get to this point: Knocked off the AFC’s No. 1 seed, beat Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs IN Kansas City and overcome some serious offensive line woes to get to their first Super Bowl in over three decades. That movie-cliché-type run comes to an end in Hollywood.
While SN’s Vinnie Iyer labels the Rams defensive line vs. the Bengals OL a myth, I don’t see it that way: If Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Leonard Floyd and the rest of the Rams D can put together a disruptive second half like they did vs. the 49ers (7 second-half points allowed), then Burrow may have another hill to climb, akin to the Tennessee game. The difference: Stafford and the LA offense have more than enough firepower to capitalize on that type of defensive dominance — even if Stafford throws a few “WTF?” balls like he’s done at different points this offseason.
Not to take away from what the Cincinnati Cinderfellas have done in the playoffs, but a lot of things had to break their way for them to get to this point. The clock will strike midnight in Super Bowl 56, and Matthew Stafford will shatter the glass slipper to get his first ring in his first Super Bowl appearance.
Prediction: Rams 30, Bengals 21
Jacob Camenker: Look, the Bengals have been a nice story and Joe Burrow seems highly likely to win a Super Bowl at some point in the future. It’s not coming this year.
The Bengals simply don’t match up well with the Rams. Los Angeles has one of the most fearsome pass rushes in the league, headlined by Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Leonard Floyd. Cincinnati’s offensive line allowed Burrow to be sacked 51 times during the regular season and another 12 times in the playoffs, so he will be under pressure a lot.
Cincinnati should still move the ball enough to keep this close, but ultimately, the Rams will make enough plays on defense to get the win. Matthew Stafford and the offense will have to start a bit quicker than they did against the 49ers, but Sean McVay should find a way to get Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. open often enough to win.
Prediction: Rams 26, Bengals 21
Edward Sutelan: The legend of Joe Burrow continues to grow. In his second season in the NFL, he has taken the Bengals from a four-win team to a Super Bowl team, now with a chance to bring home the franchise’s first title. But to complete the miraculous season, he’ll have to get past a team that has been built with one goal in mind: winning it all.
The clear mismatch in this game is the defensive line of the Rams vs. the offensive line of the Bengals. Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo make up the most formidable pass rush Cincinnati has faced this postseason, and Burrow won’t have as easy of a quick out to Ja’Marr Chase with Jalen Ramsey likely to be on the top corner. And the Rams have one of the best passing games in the league, having finished second in the league in total yards behind Cooper Kupp’s historic season and a resurgence from Odell Beckham Jr.
But the Bengals have more weapons than Chase and seem better prepared to cover the Rams’ passing game than vice versa. Cincinnati allowed the 15th-fewest passing yards to wide receivers this season, and have contained Tyreek Hill to under 80 yards in both games they played against the Chiefs. The Rams, on the other hand, have allowed the fourth-most yards to receivers this season, and they’ll be facing perhaps the deepest group of receivers in the NFL with Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd behind Chase. That’s to say nothing of Joe Mixon in the backfield, who has made more of an impact in the passing game as of late and has shown the ability to break out with big runs.
The Rams take a first-half lead over Cincinnati, but falter in the second half as Boyd and Chase each catch touchdowns to deliver the Bengals’ first Super Bowl title.
Prediction: Bengals 31, Rams 24