A new Super Bowl champion will be crowned for the 17th consecutive season, extending the longest streak without a repeat winner in NFL history.
The Los Angeles Rams will face the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI (56) on their home field at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m local time) on Sunday.
Los Angeles is the second straight team to host the title game, joining Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers who won Super Bowl LV last year at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. In the first 54 Super Bowls, no team hosted the game.
Both teams are number four seeds, matching the highest combined seeding in the game since seeding began in 1975.
The chase for the Lombardi
Los Angeles, the NFC champion, is appearing in its fifth Super Bowl, second in the last four seasons. The Rams are seeking the franchise’s second Super Bowl title, but first in LA. The Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV against the Tennessee Titans in Atlanta when the organization was in St. Louis in 2000.
Meanwhile, AFC champion, Cincinnati, is making its third trip to the big game, first since the 1988 season. The Bengals started the 2021 season tied with the third-longest odds at 125-1 to reach the game, according to Caesars Sportsbook. Cincinnati has never won the Super Bowl.
As of Thursday, Los Angeles is a 3.5-point favorite to hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy.
More than 180 countries and territories will televise the game live. The contest will be broadcast in about 25 languages.
The starting quarterbacks
The starting quarterbacks, Bengals Joe Burrow and Rams Matthew Stafford, are making their Super Bowl debut.
Both were selected number one overall in their respective drafts, making this the second Super Bowl matchup between two number one overall signal callers. The first one was Super Bowl 50, Denver Broncos Peyton Manning and Carolina Panthers Cam Newton.
Just two seasons ago, Cincinnati finished with an NFL-worst 2-14 record. But for that futility, Bengals secured the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft and selected Burrow out of LSU.
Burrow is the first top overall pick to reach the Super Bowl within his first two seasons, and with a win, the 25-year-old can become the first quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy, a college national championship and a Super Bowl.
Cincinnati is the first team ever with a 4,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher (Joe Mixon) and two 1,000-yard receivers (Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins) each under the age of 26.
The dynamic duo of Burrow and Chase, who also went to LSU, will look to replicate their collegiate success when they take on a tough Rams defense.
Led by All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and Super Bowl 50 MVP and eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller, who was traded to LA in November, Rams defense had the third most sacks (50), allowed the second least passing touchdowns (17) and were tied for third in interceptions made (19) in the league during the regular season.
After 12 years with the Detroit Lions, Stafford was traded to LA on January 30, 2021. Exactly one year later, Stafford and the Rams beat the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game, earning a Super Bowl berth. Prior to this season, the 34-year-old never won a postseason game.
In the regular season, Stafford finished in the top five in passing yards, passing touchdowns, passing first downs and yards per attempt.
His main target, Cooper Kupp, was selected to his first Pro Bowl. Kupp became the fourth player in NFL history to win the receiving Triple Crown by leading the league in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
Stafford will also be relying on another in-season acquisition, Odell Beckham Jr. In eleven games with the team, including three in the playoffs, Beckham Jr. has 46 receptions for 541 yards and six touchdowns.
Youngest coaching matchup
This will be the youngest head coaching matchup in Super Bowl history.
Rams head coach Sean McVay, 36, is seeking his first Super Bowl win after losing his first, Super Bowl LIII to the New England Patriots in Atlanta after the 2018 season. In five seasons with LA, McVay is 55-26 in the regular season, 6-3 in the postseason.
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor, 38, is making his Super Bowl head coaching debut. Taylor was on McVay’s offensive staff from 2017-2018, appearing in the Super Bowl as quarterback coach. After going 6-25-1 in his first two years at the helm, Taylor led the Bengals to a 10-7 regular season record, 3-0 in the postseason.
In 2019, McVay beat Taylor in the only game they faced each other, a 24-10 Rams’ victory in London.
Sunday’s game will be played at the 3.1 million square-foot stadium So-Fi Stadium, the largest in the league and first open-air, indoor-outdoor venue.
The stadium can accomodate approximately 70,000 fans, and for special events, expandable up to 100,000.
The league said “65,000 or so” spectators are expected to attend on Sunday. Nearly 25,000 fans were at last year’s Super Bowl because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Los Angeles is hosting the game for the first time in nearly 30 years and eighth overall, third most behind Miami (11) and New Orleans (10).
‘An unforgettable cultural moment’
Hip-hop icons - Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar - headline the star-studded halftime show in what Dr. Dre says, “will be an unforgettable cultural moment.”
For the first time ever, the five multi-award-winning artists - who have 43 Grammys and 22 number one billboard albums combined - will perform together on stage.
This will be a homecoming performance for Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar who are from Compton, California and Snoop Dogg who is from Long Beach, California.
“Artists like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg were at the forefront of the West Coast hip hop revolution.” Todd Kaplan, Pepsi Marketing Vice President said in a statement.
“So to be able to bring them back to LA, where it all began alongside Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar will prove to be an epic, unforgettable celebration of the impact hip hop has today.”
Mickey Guyton, a multi-Grammy-nominated artist, will sing the National Anthem. Guyton’s 2021 debut album, “Remember Her Name,” earned her a Grammy nomination for best country album, the first-ever for a Black artist.