Rams, Bengals brace for Super Bowl blockbuster

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The Los Angeles Rams put the finishing touches to their preparations for this weekend’s Super Bowl during training on Friday

A Los Angeles Rams team bristling with star-power will seek to deny the giant-killing Cincinnati Bengals a Hollywood ending in the Super Bowl on Sunday as an NFL season full of plot twists reaches its climax.

The first NFL championship game of the post-Tom Brady era sees the Rams play host at their gleaming $5.5 billion SoFi Stadium against a Bengals side chasing a first Super Bowl crown.

At the heart of a perfectly scripted season finale is a duel between two talented quarterbacks playing in the Super Bowl for the first time.

The Bengals, meanwhile, are led by the precocious Joe Burrow, who bounced back from a horrific knee injury that ended his rookie season in 2020 to carry Cincinnati to a first Super Bowl appearance since 1989.

Last season, the team finished with four wins and 11 defeats, only slightly better than their 2019 campaign, which ended in a dismal 2-14 record. Not for nothing were they ridiculed as the “Cincinnati Bungles.”

But under head coach Zac Taylor, and buoyed by the arrival of No.1 draft pick Burrow in 2020, the Bengals have become a team transformed.

While the 25-year-old Burrow delights social media with his penchant for cigars, flashy jewelry and fur coats, he has been laser-focused during this week’s protracted build-up.

“I’m tired of watching film I just want to go and play,” Burrow said, brushing off lofty comparisons to quarterback legends such as Joe Montana and Joe Namath.

Whether Burrow is afforded the time and space to craft another Bengals upset is another question altogether, however.

That is a stat that the formidable Rams defense, led by the human wrecking ball Aaron Donald, the best defensive player in the NFL, and veteran pass rusher Von Miller, will have taken note of.

On the offensive side, meanwhile, the Rams have more than enough weapons to puncture the Bengals defense.

As well as enjoying home advantage, the Rams also have the benefit of having recent Super Bowl experience.

That loss proved a chastening lesson for Rams coach Sean McVay, who was upbeat after overseeing a light workout in perfect weather on Friday.

“I’m excited to be able to go watch these guys compete to the best of their ability. 

The Rams will be playing in front of a packed 70,000 crowd, while the traditional half-time music concert will feature the likes of Eminem, Mary J.Blige and hip-hop icons Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar.

While the Omicron variant surge is in retreat in Los Angeles, authorities require all attendees on Sunday to provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test, with masking mandatory. 

Originally published as Rams, Bengals brace for Super Bowl blockbuster


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