The Super Bowl is finally upon us. After the biggest season in NFL history, we’re down to two teams: the Bengals and the Rams. The two sides couldn’t be more different on the surface, one defying all odds to reach this point and the other realizing its on-paper potential. But they figure to make for must-see TV on the biggest stage in football.
As we gear up for Super Bowl LVI, here are 56 things to know for the big game:
1. Super Bowl LVI will be played between the Bengals and Rams, marking the first time these teams have met in a championship.
2. This is the Bengals’ first Super Bowl appearance since 1988, when they lost to the 49ers, 20-16.
3. Before this season, the Bengals had not won a playoff game since 1990, when they beat the Oilers (now the Titans), the longest drought in the four major North American sports.
4. The Bengals have appeared in three Super Bowls total, including this one. Their first two — in 1981 and 1988 — were both against the 49ers. They lost to San Francisco both times, and each time by one score.
5. The Rams, on the other hand, are making their fifth Super Bowl appearance, and their second in the last four years.
6. Los Angeles last appeared in the big game in 2018, when the Patriots defeated them, 13-3, in the lowest-scoring Super Bowl of all time.
7. The Rams last won the Super Bowl in 1999, when they beat the Titans, 23-16, in Super Bowl XXXIV to cap a drastic turnaround as the “Greatest Show on Turf.”
8. This matchup marks the first time in Super Bowl history that both teams entered the playoffs as No. 4 seeds.
10. Burrow is finishing just his second NFL season. At 25, he’s looking to become one of the youngest QBs to ever win a Super Bowl, behind just Ben Roethlisberger (23), Patrick Mahomes (24) and Tom Brady (24).
11. Burrow missed the final six games of his rookie 2020 season due to a knee injury. He’s just over a year removed from suffering a torn ACL and MCL, as well as PCL and meniscus damage.
12. This year, Burrow set the Bengals’ single-season franchise record for passing yards (4,616), touchdowns (34) and passer rating (108.3). He also led the NFL in completion percentage (70.4).
13. Just two years in, Burrow is drawing comparisons to former Jets Super Bowl champion Joe Namath, also nicknamed “Joe Cool,” complete with glitzy fashion — like a “JB9” diamond chain he wore after the AFC Championship.
14. Matthew Stafford, the Rams’ QB, is finishing his first season in Los Angeles. He spent the first 12 years of his NFL career with the Lions.
15. Stafford appeared in just three playoff games during his 12 years in Detroit, winning none of them. In his first year with the Rams, he’s gone 3-0 in the postseason.
16. Stafford, 33, set career highs in completion percentage (67.2) and passing touchdowns (41) this year. Only Tom Brady (43) threw more TDs.
17. Exactly one year before he led the Rams over the 49ers in the NFC Championship, Stafford was traded from the Lions in exchange for QB Jared Goff and three draft picks, including two first-rounders. The trade became official in March.
18. Goff, another former No. 1 overall pick, was the Rams’ starting QB the last time Los Angeles advanced to the Super Bowl.
19. Stafford is just one of several big-name veterans the Rams acquired this season. L.A. also traded future draft picks for former Patriots running back Sony Michel and former Broncos Super Bowl champion pass rusher Von Miller, and signed former Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
20. Stafford’s top wide receiver, Cooper Kupp, just finished a historic year for the Rams. His 145 catches and 1,947 receiving yards rank second all-time, behind only Michael Thomas (149 catches) and Calvin Johnson (1,964 yards).
21. Kupp broke the all-time record for most scrimmage yards by a receiver, with 1,965.
22. In the Rams’ NFC Championship win, Kupp also broke Michael Irvin’s 25-year-old record for most 100-yard games in a season, including playoffs, logging his 13th time eclipsing the century mark.
23. The Bengals’ top receiver, Ja’Marr Chase, was drafted fifth overall in 2021 out of LSU, where he played with Burrow. The rookie broke a franchise record with 1,455 yards on the season, the fourth-most among all NFL wideouts.
24. Of all receivers with at least 500 yards, Chase ranked second in the NFL in yards per catch (18), behind only the 49ers’ Deebo Samuel. His 13 TDs ranked third in the league.
25. The Bengals were the only NFL team besides the Buccaneers to have three different players top 800 receiving yards: Chase (1,455), Tee Higgins (1,091) and Tyler Boyd (828) topped their pass-catching corps.
26. The Rams’ No. 2 receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., spent the first six games of the season on the Browns. Cleveland released him amid a diminished role in its offense, as well as controversy surrounding rumored discontent with QB Baker Mayfield.
27. Rams coach Sean McVay, 36, is looking for his first Super Bowl win, and to become the youngest head coach to ever hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin holds that distinction for winning Super Bowl XLIII at 36.
28. McVay will be up against Bengals coach Zac Taylor, 38, marking the youngest pair of Super Bowl head coaches in the game’s history.
29. Taylor worked under McVay directly before becoming Bengals coach, spending one year as the Rams’ assistant wide receivers coach (2017) and one as the team’s QBs coach (2018).
30. Taylor is a former QB who went undrafted out of Nebraska in 2007, briefly spending time with the Buccaneers and in the Canadian Football League before transitioning to coaching.
31. Taylor went 6-25-1 in his first two seasons running the Bengals, replacing longtime coach Marvin Lewis, who led seven playoff runs in 16 years but never won a postseason game. Cincy’s march to the Super Bowl since 2019, when the Bengals finished 2-14, marks the most drastic two-season turnaround for a Super Bowl team.
32. McVay, who was hired by the Rams at just 30 in 2017, has led four playoff appearances in his five years on the job. His career winning percentage (.679) ranks 10th all-time, ahead of greats like Bill Belichick, Don Shula and Tony Dungy.
33. McVay and the Rams will play the Super Bowl on their own turf at SoFi Stadium, in Inglewood, California.
34. By playing at SoFi Stadium, the Rams will look to become the second straight team to win it all in their own stadium. Before the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida, to end the 2020 season, no team had ever done it.
35. The Rams are currently favored to beat the Bengals by four points.
36. All but one of the NFL’s six playoff games since the divisional round have been decided by exactly three points.
37. Both the Bengals and Rams finished 2021 with top-10 passing offenses. L.A. ranked fifth, and Cincy ranked seventh.
38. Both teams had bottom-half defenses, with the Rams ranking 17th and Bengals 18th.
39. L.A. boasts two of the game’s top defensive players at their respective positions, however, with Aaron Donald at defensive tackle and Jalen Ramsey at cornerback. The two have a combined 13 Pro Bowls, 10 All-Pro honors and three Defensive Player of the Year awards.
40. Ramsey was one of the current Rams regime’s first big-name acquisitions, joining the team via trade from the Jaguars in exchange for three draft picks, including two first-rounders, during the 2017 season.
41. The Rams are seeking their first Super Bowl win while playing in Los Angeles. Their last and only Super Bowl win, in 1999, came as the St. Louis Rams, their name/location from 1995-2015.
42. The Rams won two championships before the Super Bowl era, first as the Cleveland Rams in 1945 and then as the Los Angeles Rams in 1951.
43. Von Miller, one of the Rams’ top pass rushers, won Super Bowl 50 as a member of the Broncos, winning Super Bowl MVP. He’s logged seven sacks, including playoffs, since arriving via trade in November.
44. Bengals starting running back Joe Mixon starred as one of the NFL’s few featured backs in 2021, finishing third in rushing yards (1,205), fourth in TDs (13) and fifth in first-down runs (60).
45. Trey Hendrickson is another standout for Cincinnati. Signed to a lucrative deal in free agency after four years with the Saints, the pass rusher logged 14 sacks in 2021, fifth-most among all players.
46. Rookie kicker Evan McPherson has helped power the Bengals’ playoff run. After setting a team record for most 50-yard field goals in a season, he’s gone a perfect 16-for-16 on playoff kicks.
47. The Rams upset the defending champion Buccaneers in Tampa to advance to the NFC Championship, beating Tom Brady in the legendary QB’s final NFL game.
48. The Rams snapped a six-game losing streak to the 49ers by beating San Francisco in the NFC Championship.
49. The Bengals upset the AFC’s No. 1-seeded Titans in Tennessee to advance to the AFC Championship.
50. The Bengals upset the reigning AFC champion Chiefs, who had appeared in the last two Super Bowls, in Kansas City to win the AFC Championship this year.
51. The halftime show will feature a collective of longtime hip-hop artists: Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar.
52. Country singer Mickey Guyton will perform the national anthem, while R&B singer Jhené Aiko will perform “America the Beautiful” and gospel duo Mary Mary will sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” prior to the game.
53. NBC will broadcast the game, which kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET at Feb. 13. Streaming is also available on fuboTV.
54. NBC’s broadcast team for the game includes Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (color commentary), Michele Tafoya and Kathryn Tappen (sideline reporters) and Terry McAulay (rules analyst).
55. The Bengals, not the Rams, will be the official home team for Super Bowl LVI due to the NFL alternating the designation between conferences each year. This means they’ll use the Rams’ typical home-stadium locker room during the game.
56. As the official “road” team, the Rams will call the coin toss before the opening kickoff. The Bengals, as the “home” team, will choose which uniforms they wear in the big game.