No. 1 stunners
Two former No. 1 overall picks — Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford — have led their teams to the Super Bowl.
Burrow was the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft after a record-breaking senior season at LSU, where he steered the Tigers to the 2019 national championship and a perfect 15-0 record. He was also the winner of the Heisman Memorial Trophy, presented to the top college football player in the country.
Burrow became the only rookie from his draft class to start the opening game of the 2020 season, but he ended the year on injured reserve after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee during a loss to Washington 11 games into his rookie campaign.
Despite the season-ending injury, it seems Burrow has rebounded in impressive fashion, setting a franchise record for most passing yards (4,611) and passing touchdowns (34) this season.
Stafford was the first overall pick by the Detroit Lions in the 2009 draft after a record-setting junior season at Georgia. He spent the first 12 seasons of his NFL career in Detroit before being traded to the Rams in 2021.
Although Stafford set several records during his time in Detroit, including becoming the fastest player to reach 20,000 career passing yards in NFL history, the Lions were 0-3 in the playoffs. Eager to find a team where he could win right away, Stafford was traded to the Rams in exchange for quarterback Jared Goff — the 2016 No. 1 overall pick — and future draft picks.
Stafford left Detroit as the team's career leader in passing yards (45,109) and touchdown passes (282).
In just one season with the Rams, Stafford has already set a franchise record for the most passing yards (4,886) in a season, and he's tied with former Super Bowl champion Kurt Warner for the most touchdown passes (41) in a season.
There's no place like home
Through the NFL's first 54 years of staging a Super Bowl, no team had played in one in its home venue. But for the second consecutive year, a participating team will be doing just that.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the first team to do it last year in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Now it's the Rams' turn to host the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, a suburb of Los Angeles.
Even though no team before last year had ever played at home, there have been some regional advantages. Ironically, like this year's game, they also had a California connection.
The Rams were the NFC representative in Super Bowl XIV at the Rose Bowl in nearby Pasadena, California, while the San Francisco 49ers played in Super Bowl XIX at Stanford Stadium in the Bay area. The Rams called the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum home at the time and the 49ers played their home games at the now-demolished Candlestick Park.
It's been a long time
This will be Cincinnati's first Super Bowl appearance since the 1988 season.
The Bengals are one of 12 teams that have never won a Super Bowl. They are 0-2 all-time in Super Bowl appearances, losing both times to San Francisco.
That's a stark contrast to the Rams, who are playing in their second Super Bowl in four seasons (and six years back in L.A.) under head coach Sean McVay.
Technically, the Rams have won a Super Bowl, though it was when the franchise was in St. Louis.
The Rams played in their first Super Bowl to cap the 1979 season.
For some perspective, Stafford was an infant during Cincinnati's last Super Bowl run and Burrow wouldn't be born for another eight NFL seasons.
How low can you go?
This year's Super Bowl will be the lowest-seeded game in its 56-year history.
Super Bowl LVI will pit a pair of No. 4 seeds against each other, making it the lowest-seeded NFL championship game since the league instituted playoff seedings beginning with the 1975 season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were the lowest-seeded team to ever win a Super Bowl, defeating the NFC's top-seeded Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in Super Bowl XL.
There has never been a Super Bowl without one of the top three seeds from either conference playing in it — until now.
The Bengals lead the all-time series against the Rams 8-6, although the Rams won 24-10 the last time they met in 2019 in London.
Burrow aside, the star for the Bengals throughout the playoffs is arguably rookie Evan McPherson.
The former Florida Gators kicker's 31-yard field goal against the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime put the Bengals in the Super Bowl for the first time in 33 years.
McPherson was 4 for 4 in field-goal attempts during the AFC title game and is a perfect 12 for 12 in field-goal tries this postseason.
His 52-yard field goal as time expired against the AFC's top-seeded Tennessee Titans in the divisional round helped the Bengals win 19-16 and advance to the conference championship game.
McPherson was also 4 for 4 in Cincinnati's 26-19 wild-card playoff victory against the Las Vegas Raiders, giving the Bengals their first postseason win in 31 years.
The Rams are the early betting favorites to win the Super Bowl, but if it comes down to a kick, don't bet against McPherson.