It’s finally Super Bowl LVI, and the Cincinnati Bengals promise to make it a compelling game against the Los Angeles Rams in their home stadium. The Rams, led by the former Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, are looking to win their first Super Bowl since 2001, while the Cincinnati Bengals are competing for their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has a chance to become the first player in football history to win the Heisman Trophy, a college National Championship, and a Super Bowl in his career.
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1. Cincinnati Bengals (+4 for the game)
The Los Angeles Rams are favored to win this game by four points currently, and I think that’s a little bit generous. The Cincinnati Bengals are in a prime position for an upset – they have the weapons, they handled a very tough, physical front in the Kansas City two weeks prior. Their defense is criminally underrated as well, not allowing anyone to score more than 24 points this entire postseason.
The Los Angeles Rams are certainly a formidable foe. I think even in their home stadium, the energy and leadership of Burrow is a serious difference maker. This is more of a gut feeling for me, but even in the case that the Rams win, I think it might take a last second field-goal to do it.
2. First Half – Los Angeles Rams (-3)
The Rams have been in the habit of picking up early game leads this season, outside of last week against the San Francisco 49ers. I would fully expect that to continue as sometimes the Bengals can start a little slow.
The Bengals should come out and try to run a quick screen offense with a lot of perimeter based attacks. They’re going to be looking for quick plays to try and keep Aaron Donald and Von Miller off of Joe Burrow. That’s potentially going to stall the Bengals offense while the high-flying Rams offense can generate points quickly with their ability to stretch the field vertically and horizontally simultaneously.
The point that’s been clear this year is that the Rams struggle with second half adjustments and the Bengals have made admirable second-half adjustments all season long.
3. Total Sacks In The Game – Over 5.5
The Cincinnati Bengals surrendered nine sacks to the Tennessee Titans in the divisional playoff, while going up against a tough defensive front. The Los Angeles Rams, so far this post season, are averaging two sacks per game, while the Bengals are averaging three per game themselves. Burrow has been sacked twelve times this postseason.
The Rams have Aaron Donald, who will undoubtably attract a lot of attention from the Bengals front. However, because of the attention that he creates, the Rams can generate a lot of pressure with Von Miller and Leonard Floyd, who have been nuisances off the edges all season long.
Don’t think that the Bengals won’t be able to get after Matthew Stafford. The difference this season has been when Stafford is protected, he’s almost flawless. When he’s pressured, he’s been awful. The Rams are currently uncertain if Andrew Whitworth will play on Sunday at left tackle, and Joseph Notebloom, his potential replacement, is doubtful with a chest injury.
4. Cooper Kupp, Ja’Marr Chase to have touchdowns, Aaron Donald 1+ Sack, Joe Burrow +12 Rushing Yards – Yes
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Cooper Kupp and Ja’Marr Chase are two of the favorites to score touchdowns at all in this game. Considering how difficult protecting Joe Burrow has been for the Bengals this season, it’s hard to imagine Aaron Donald being held without a sack.
Lastly, Joe Burrow will be running for his life at times in this game, so 12 rushing yards should be relatively obtainable. Burrow ran for 25 yards two weeks ago against the Kansas City Chiefs, and has passed over 12 yards in a game this season against the Detroit Lions and the Denver Broncos.
5. Will Joe Burrow Throw a 3rd Quarter Touchdown Pass – Yes
Joe Burrow’s third quarter stats are impressive this season, completing 73.7% of his passes, throwing eight touchdowns and compiling a 123.4 passer rating. I believe that the Bengals will have to make a statement to start the second half, and that’s what Burrow does best.
Yes, this is again more of a gut-check bet. Hell, most bets are if we’re being honest with ourselves. This one just feels right.