The stage is set for Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium, and the NFL betting markets are in full flux for this battle of the unexpected vs. expected between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams – which is possibly one of the most fascinating matchups in the last decade.
The Bengals reach the pinnacle of the NFL playoffs having navigated a course in the last two rounds through a couple of the best teams in the AFC and defying the NFL odds in the process.
Only the highly-fancied, star-studded roster of Los Angeles’ glitterati Rams stand in their way of NFL immortality. Can the Bengals cap their miraculous playoffs run with a championship title at the expense of the Rams?
Los Angeles Rams vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday, February 13, 2022 – 06:30 PM EST at SoFi Stadium
Super Bowl LVI Odds and Lines
According to the NFL odds, the answer is a resounding no. Across the board, most sportsbooks went to press with the Los Angeles Rams priced at -3.5 or -4, and since opening on those numbers, the line almost unanimously climbed up to 4.5 points with all the top-rated sportsbooks, including Caesars, BetMGM and FanDuel, to name a few.
The total opened around 49 or 50 points but promptly dropped down to 48.5 with the majority of market operators.
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It seems that early public betting is on the Rams mainly – a trend that is the likely catalyst for the NFL lines moving with Los Angeles.
Approximately 73% of the public is with the Rams on the moneyline (best priced at -190 with Sugar House). Similarly, 54% of the public is with the Rams to cover as the favorites in point spread betting markets. The over edges the under with 53% of the betting up to this point.
Cincinnati Bengals Floating Dangerously
The Bengals are riding a six-game winning streak (excluding Week 18 when they rested their starters). Over the course of this run, they beat the upstarts Las Vegas Raiders, upended the No.1 seed Tennessee Titans and stunned the Kansas City Chiefs twice.
Cincinnati started the season as the quintessential longshots to win Super Bowl 56 with several sportsbooks recording odds of 125 to 1!
The Bengals’ stunning ascent in the league is down to the play of Joe Burrow, who took a relatively nondescript team on his back and carried it through the weeks of the regular season and the playoffs to reach this vantage point. Suffice it to say, few would have predicted it.
The Bengals have covered seven straight contests, twice as favorites and five times as underdogs. Arguably, their most impressive wins were a 34-31 win over the Chiefs in Week 17 as the 3.5-point home underdogs and their come-from-behind win over the Chiefs again in the AFC title game – erasing an 18-point deficit to come through as the 7-point road underdogs.
Burrow has done what many highly touted quarterbacks such as Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen and Justin Herbert have failed to do which is beat Patrick Mahomes twice.
Los Angeles Rams Carry Weight Of Expectations
The Rams have won eight of their last nine games to reach Super Bowl 56, with their lone defeat coming in Week 18 against the San Francisco 49ers.
Matthew Stafford was patchy down the stretch, doubling up on his penchant for interceptions in the last two months of the season to finish the regular season tied with rookie Trevor Lawrence on 17 INTs.
The Rams eliminated the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC title game, clinching their first win over the Rams in the last six games. Stafford played a big part as he orchestrated a come-from-behind win, erasing a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
Indeed, Stafford has been a different quarterback in the postseason as he negotiated Los Angeles’ run to Super Bowl at the expense of the Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 49ers. He’s managed his touchdown to interception ratio admirably, throwing six touchdowns to just one interception in three games.
The Rams are 6-3 ATS in their last nine games and 2-1 ATS in the playoffs, with only the 20-17 win over the Niners failing to deliver a cover. The Rams closed as the 3.5 point home chalk.
NFL Predictions and Picks
The Los Angeles Rams are the vogue NFL pick, the popular bet among bettors to come through with the victory in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.
On paper, the Rams should win. They’re the star-studded team with a stout defense and a veteran quarterback. Moreover, coach Sean McVay has been here before and that experience will be invaluable.
That said, a lot will depend on the play of Stafford on the day. Stafford has been riding the coattails of a ready-made, Super Bowl team built by McVay over the last few years.
Which Stafford shows up on Sunday night is anybody’s guess, but whichever one shows up is going to either sink or make the Rams.
The Cincinnati Bengals are tasked with the impossible, to beat the Rams on their turf. It’s safe to say, they’ll send seismic shockwaves through NFL betting markets if they pull off the feat.
It’s a longshot bet according to the top sports betting sites, though. Then again, if Burrow can rise to the occasion one more time – and there’s no reason to assume he cannot do so as he’s done it consistently to get here – he may well carry the Bengals over the finish line.
NFL Pick: Bengals +4.5 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook