What to Watch in the Super Bowl on Sunday
The final showdown of the N.F.L. season arrives Sunday with what fans hope will be a fitting climax to a wild playoffs, with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams facing off in the Super Bowl.
The Bengals are in their first Super Bowl in 33 years, led by the rising star quarterback Joe Burrow, who in college won a Heisman Trophy and a national championship with Louisiana State. The Rams have constructed a powerful team through trades and acquisitions meant to focus their franchise on winning this season, and are anchored on defense by the pass rusher Aaron Donald.
Here’s a look at some of the things to watch in Super Bowl LVI:
Fans can watch and stream on NBC, which is also broadcasting the Olympics.
In the United States, the game will be televised on NBC and streamed on Peacock and the NBC Sports app, with Telemundo providing coverage in Spanish.
Kickoff is scheduled for about 6:30 p.m. Eastern time — 3:30 p.m. Pacific at the site of the game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. The pregame festivities will begin on NBC at noon Eastern, with football coverage sandwiched by Olympic action from the Beijing Games.
Outside of the United States, some of the broadcasters worldwide include Seven Network (Australia), CTV (Canada), L’Équipe (France), DAZN (Germany), SportKlub (Macedonia) and the BBC (U.K.).
The Bengals believe the big-game experience among players will help.
A common refrain from Cincinnati Bengals players this week, including stars like Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, has been that this year’s Super Bowl is “just another game.”
Dive Deeper Into the Super Bowl
- Optimism and Anxiety: This year, SoFi Stadium in Inglewood will host the Super Bowl between the Rams and the Bengals. What does the event mean for the city?
- Home Advantage: The Rams will use their usual facilities and home stadium. Here is how they are getting ready.
- Cooper Kupp: The Rams receiver managed an All-Pro season, becoming a sure-handed catcher and the driving force behind the team’s success.
- Joe Burrow: The stylish quarterback has led the Bengals to their first Super Bowl appearance in 1989. But he still thinks about that playoff loss in high school.
“Obviously it’s not, there are only two teams left and it is for a ring, but I think the best way to go about it is to try to treat it like another game,” Burrow said after Friday’s practice, the last of the season.
Their opponent, the Los Angeles Rams, played in a Super Bowl just three years ago, a 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots. The Bengals, meanwhile, had not won a playoff game since the 1990 wild-card round. This year’s Cincinnati team is also the youngest Super Bowl roster ever, with an average age of 25.8 years, according to an analysis by the website FiveThirtyEight.
But despite their relative youth, Bengals Coach Zac Taylor pointed to the big-stage experience many of his players earned in college or on other N.F.L. teams. Taylor, 38, is in just his third season as a head coach but was the quarterbacks coach for the Rams in Super Bowl LIII.
He said that he and Duke Tobin, the team’s director of player personnel, intentionally built the team around players with postseason experience.
“They certainly are not overwhelmed by these moments — they have proven that over the last two months,” Taylor said. “It’s a lot of guys who have played in championships in college, whether it was at L.S.U. or Clemson or Alabama or Ohio State. And then a lot of these free agents we’ve signed, they have been a part of playoff teams before. So these guys, they know they belong on this stage.”
Nine Bengals players, including Burrow and Chase, won a national championship in college. Trey Hendrickson and Mike Daniels were among the free-agent signings who had playoff experience with their previous teams, the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers.
The Rams have some talented friends joining Aaron Donald.
When Von Miller, the former Denver Broncos linebacker, was traded to the Rams in November, he said cried tears of both joy and sadness.
Miller said in a news conference in November that on one hand, it hurt to leave the only organization he had been with after a decade. Then, Miller added, he realized he was going to play alongside Donald, the All-Pro defensive lineman who is one of the best players in football.
Donald and Miller have been an elite pairing since that trade, particularly in the postseason. In three playoff games, they each have a combined 32 pressures and four sacks, according to Pro Football Focus.
Blocking Donald and Miller will present a huge test for the Bengals’ offensive line, which is its weakest unit on offense. Burrow was the most sacked quarterback (51) in football in the regular season and has taken 12 sacks in the postseason.
On offense, the Rams are led by quarterback Matthew Stafford, who like Burrow is a former No. 1 overall draft pick with plenty of weapons to target. Stafford was acquired last off-season from Detroit and won his first N.F.L. playoff game four weeks ago.
The spectacle is fitting for the glitz of Los Angeles.
For some people, the biggest stars of this Super Bowl will come during the halftime show, with artists who could easily headline nearby Coachella or any other giant music festival.
Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar, rap titans who are well known for their ties to Southern California, will share the stage with Mary J. Blige and Eminem.
The timing of the halftime show, of course, will depend on exactly how long it takes to play the first half of the game. But fans can roughly expect it to happen about 8 p.m. Eastern, 5 p.m. Pacific.