The biggest game of the year is set for Atlanta on Feb. 3.
The Bengals are sitting out the Super Bowl for the 30th straight year, but the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots have plenty of connections to Southwest Ohio’s pro team as well as products of local high schools and colleges.
»RELATED: How to watch Super Bowl LIII on WHIO-TV
Here’s a look at them:
LOS ANGELES RAMS
J.J. Dielman, offensive lineman (practice squad)
The Bengals drafted Dielman out of Utah with a fifth-round pick in 2017.
He was cut prior to the start of the season but brought back as a member of the practice squad.
Dielman, who has not played in an NFL game yet, has also spent time on the practice squads of the Seahawks and Broncos.
Cousin Kris Dielman is a Troy High School graduate who made four Pro Bowls as an offensive lineman for the Chargers.
Aaron Kromer, run game coordinator
One of four Miami University products on the Rams coaching staff, Kromer is in his 18th season coaching in the NFL.
He played offensive line in Oxford before becoming a Miami graduate assistant in 1990.
Kromer coached tight ends, H-backs and the offensive line at his alma mater before leaving for Northwestern in 1999. He has been in the NFL since joining the Raiders staff in 2001.
Jake McQuaid, long snapper
A Cincinnati native who went to Elder High School, McQuaid walked on at Ohio State, where he was an Academic All-Big Ten honoree and eventually was awarded a scholarship.
The two-time Pro Bow pick has spent his entire eight-year NFL career with the Rams, who signed him to an extension last offseason.
›› Re-live the last Super Bowl the Bengals played
Sean McVay, head coach
The coach of the Rams is the grandson of John McVay, who was the head coach of the Dayton Flyers football team before helping put together the 49ers dynasty of the 1980s and ‘90s as an executive.
His father Tim is an Alter grad who played at Indiana and was a long-time employee at Cox Media Group.
Born in Dayton, Sean McVay and his family lived in Dayton until he was 6 when his father took a job with CMG in Atlanta, but the young McVay returned to Southwest Ohio as a receiver for the Miami RedHawks from 2004-07.
Not sure Sean McVay's @MiamiOHFootball headshot has gotten enough attention pic.twitter.com/brvC7QyFmp— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) January 23, 2019
Chris Shula, assistant linebackers coach
Shula played linebacker at Miami University from 2004-08.
He made 144 tackles and was the roommate of Sean McVay.
Shula is the son of former Bengals head coach Dave Shula and the grandson of Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Don Shula.
Sean McVay, center, pictured in the @daytondailynews, in 2005. This photo ran with a Tom Archdeacon column about three famous football families with connections to the Miami RedHawks: Parseghian, McVay and Shula. #Rams #Superbowl pic.twitter.com/BbIeKm08ac— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) January 23, 2019
Zac Taylor, quarterbacks coach
A former Nebraska quarterback, Taylor reportedly is expected to be named the next coach of the Bengals after the Super Bowl.
He was the offensive coordinator for the UC Bearcats in 2016.
RELATED: 7 things to know about Zac Taylor
Andrew Whitworth, offensive lineman
In his second season since signing with the Rams as a free agent, Whitworth was drafted by the Bengals in the second round in 2006 out of LSU.
He went on to become a highly respected member of the locker room and one of the top offensive linemen in the league.
RELATED: Bengals and Rams to play next season in London
He has been selected first-team All-Pro team twice (once as a Bengal and once for the Rams) and made four Pro Bowls, including three during his time in Cincinnati.
Dustin Woods, assistant strength and conditioning coach
A Cincinnati native, Woods played receiver at Miami University from 2005-09 after starring at Purcell Marian.
He was a part-time assistant strength and conditioning assistant for the Bengals in 2015.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Joe Thuney, guard
The 2011 Alter High School grad already has one ring and has started every game at left guard since the Patriots drafted him in the third round two years ago.
Thuney has started 56 straight games — regular season and playoffs — at left guard since New England selected him out of North Carolina State in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
He also won a pair of state championships with the Knights.
RELATED: High school coach reflects on Thuney’s career
Rex Burkhead, running back
He spent four seasons with the Bengals, who drafted him in the sixth round in 2014, but logged just 87 carries for 375 yards and three touchdowns while catching 34 passes for 288 yards and a score.
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He signed with the Patriots prior to last season and has run for 450 yards and five touchdowns in two seasons with the franchise. He also has 44 catches for 385 yards and five more touchdowns.
The Nebraska product scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime of the AFC championship game in Kansas City on Sunday.
James Develin, fullback
After playing in the Arena Football League, Develin joined the Bengals practice squad midway through the 2010 season and stayed with the team until he was part of the final cuts in 2012. New England added him to its practice squad a few days later, and the Brown University graduate been with the Patriots since, winning two Super Bowl rings.
Nate Ebner, defensive back
A Columbus native who walked on at Ohio State after playing international rugby, Ebner was a sixth-round pick of the Patriots in 2012. The special teams ace has 85 career tackles and will be trying to win his third Super Bowl ring.
RELATED: Ebner takes leave from NFL to compete for U.S. in Rio Olympics
Ebner's dad Jeff was the owner of Ebner and Sons in Springfield and was killed in 2008 defending the family-owned auto reclamation business from a robbery.
Jeremy Hill, running back
A second-round pick out of LSU in 2014, Hill spent his first four seasons with the Bengals.
He ran for 2,873 yards and 29 touchdowns with Cincinnati and caught 67 passes for 484 yards and another touchdown.
Hill carried four times for 25 yards for the Patriots before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the team’s season-opening game against the Texans.
John Simon, defensive end
A Youngstown native who starred at Ohio State, Simon had 17 tackles and two sacks in 11 games this season, his first with the Patriots.
He was a fourth-round pick of the Ravens in the 2013 draft after tallying 20.5 sacks in four years as a Buckeye. He was the 2012 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Simon has also played for the Texans and Colts.
Josh Boyer, cornerbacks coach
He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant on the University of Dayton staff in 2001.
Alabama's flop reminiscent of a certain Ohio State season and many more random thoughts https://t.co/QP6rU8JcgI— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) January 8, 2019
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