The stage is set for the 56th edition of the Super Bowl, with the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals set to decide what has been a 2021-22 NFL season to remember in Super Bowl LVI.
Held at the Rams’ home of SoFi Stadium, Sean McVay’s outfit will enter the match as the favoured side of the two teams, carrying a 12-5 record into the season decider from their campaign.
The Rams’ most recent Super Bowl appearance came in 2019, with McVay and then-QB1 Jared Goff falling to the New England Patriots 13-3. The Rams’ last Super Bowl title came in 2000 - Super Bowl XXXIV.
2019 was also the last time Cincinnati and LA clashed, with the Rams securing a 24-10 win over the Bengals, however, both franchises have undergone extensive changes to their rosters since.
The Bengals are 0-2 in their Super Bowl history, with their last appearance coming in 1989.
LA progressed through to the Super Bowl after securing an opening-week win in their post-season against division rivals Arizona, also at SoFi Stadium.
Their divisional playoff clash came against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where quarterback Matt Stafford helped lead his team to a thrilling three-point win to secure a spot in the NFC Championship game.
Facing another NFC West Division rival in the San Francisco 49ers, the Rams again edged their way to the next stage with a three-point victory, with Stafford passing for 337 yards and 2 touchdowns.
For the Bengals, their journey to Super Bowl LVI was just as thrilling. Cincinnati would open their post-season account with a seven-point victory over Las Vegas for their Wild Card Playoff fixture before securing a three-point win over Tennessee in the Divisional Playoff.
Quarterback Joe Burrow would pass for 348 yards for a return of no touchdowns, with Joe Mixon the only Bengal to pass the line while kicker Evan McPherson went four from four for his field goal kicking.
Their AFC Championship matchup would be Kansas City, who had their sights on a third successive Super Bowl appearance after claiming the 2020 title and falling short to the Buccaneers last year.
But Burrow (250 yards, 2 TDs) and defender Sam Hubbard (2 sacks) had other plans, putting in a ruthless display to record a 27-24 win in overtime, with McPherson again coming through strong to kick the match-winning field goal.
It Comes Down To This
The pathway for both the Rams and Bengals will reach its climax on the final Sunday of the season, with each lineup home to an array of stars that are set to define the game, and the championship.
Both quarterbacks in Stafford and Burrow frame as the leading options for the Super Bowl MVP honours for their respective sides, while there are no discounting wide receivers Odell Beckham Jnr and Ja’Marr Chase for LA and Cincinnati respectively.
On the defensive end, Rams superstar Aaron Donald is sure to be a menace for Burrow and his offensive line throughout all four quarters, with a Super Bowl victory and MVP honours sure to be in the ferocious defensive tackle’s sights.
For those fixated on the half-time show, viewers will be treated to a performance from Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar.
The Super Bowl will begin at 10:30 AM (AEDT) on Monday, February 14.