3.9k Share this
It all comes down to this.
The Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams square off today for a championship at Super Bowl LVI, with kickoff set for 6:30 p.m. ET.
The Bengals are technically designated as the home team, but with the game being played at SoFi Stadium—the Rams’ home field in Inglewood, California—they could be at a disadvantage.
That’s not the only thing the Rams have going for them. It starts with their financial situation, as the fourth-most-valuable team in football. Their owner, Stan Kroenke, runs a sports empire valued at $10.5 billion and has a net worth of $10.7 billion, according to Forbes estimates. (His wife, the Walmart heiress Ann Walton Kroenke, has a separate $8.7 billion fortune.) Meanwhile, the Bengals are a family business, cofounded by legendary NFL coach Paul Brown and now controlled by his son Mike. The team ranks second to last in Forbes’ NFL team valuations, at $2.3 billion.
The contrasts don’t end there. The Rams are playing in the Super Bowl for the second time in four years and have reached the playoffs in four of the last five seasons. They are hoping to add a second Super Bowl title to their résumé, after their January 2000 win over the Tennessee Titans. The Bengals, who have never won a championship in their 54-season history, hadn’t won a playoff game in 31 years, going 71-153 in a particularly abysmal stretch from 1991 to 2004.
The Rams have a star-studded roster, featuring Odell Beckham Jr., Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, Von Miller, Jalen Ramsey and Matthew Stafford, who was acquired in a seismic off-season trade with the Detroit Lions. The Bengals have a talented but young group, led by second-year quarterback Joe Burrow and rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase on offense and veteran defensive end Trey Hendrickson on defense.
The Rams’ fearsome defensive front, led by Donald, could cause trouble for Burrow and his underwhelming offensive line. Don’t count out Cincinnati, though. Burrow has already shown some magic and could soon be one of the NFL’s top stars, on and off the field. And rookie kicker Evan McPherson has been flawless in the playoffs, nailing 12 field goals.
There is one thing the teams have in common. At 38 and 36, the Bengals’ Zac Taylor and the Rams’ Sean McVay are both under 40, the first such coaching matchup in Super Bowl history.
This story will be updated.