Never count out Joe Cool.
It didn't matter that the Cincinnati Bengals were down 21-3 late in the first half of the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Joe Burrow kept his head about him to engineer an 18-point comeback, tied for the second-largest road comeback win in NFL postseason history, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Evan McPherson's 31-yard field goal in overtime sealed the 27-24 win for the Bengals, who celebrated their Super Bowl bid Sunday with one eye turned toward the television to see who their opponent would be.
Unlike their dud against the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round, the San Francisco 49ers delivered a nail-biter in the NFC Championship Game against the Los Angeles Rams. However, they couldn't navigate past their division rivals Sunday, as Matt Gay's 30-yard field goal helped the Los Angeles Rams overturn a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to seal the 20-17 victory.
Now Sean McVay's Rams return to the Super Bowl for the second time in four years. There, they will face Burrow's Bengals, who will play in their first Super Bowl since the 1988 season.
It's a terrific matchup between two offensive juggernauts, anchored by two quarterbacks with huge arms who have proved they can engineer incredible comebacks when their backs are against the wall.
Let's take a closer look at the odds heading into Super Bowl LVI.
Super Bowl 2022 Odds
Rams: -190 (bet $190 to win $100)
Bengals: +160 (bet $100 to win $160)
The Bengals are the underdogs heading into the Rams' house for the Super Bowl (that's especially ironic considering that the AFC is designated the Super Bowl home team).
Heading into last postseason, a team had never played a Super Bowl in its home stadium before Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the first. One year later, the Rams will do it as well at SoFi Stadium, a narrative the league couldn't have planned any better if it had tried.
But Joey Franchise (take your pick of his many nicknames) isn't going to let Matthew Stafford and Co. walk away with the Lombardi Trophy that easily. In only his second season in the NFL, Burrow put together a season worthy of a veteran, throwing for 4,611 yards and 34 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. He had a stellar completion percentage of 70.4.
It wasn't as good as Stafford's stat line (4,886 yards, 41 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 67.2 completion percentage), but Burrow has shown he can hold his own against a fellow gunslinger.
The question is whether Burrow's offensive line can give him the protection he will need against a vaunted Rams defense that had 50 sacks this season, third in the league, along with 95 quarterback hits.
In the regular season, Burrow was sacked 51 times and the Bengals gave up 55 sacks overall, third-most in the NFL.
We can break down how Joe Mixon and Cincinnati's run game stack up against the Rams run defense or how the Bengals secondary will try to limit the damage Cooper Kupp can do.
We can talk about how the pairings of Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase and Stafford and Kupp were two of the most explosive passing attacks we have seen in the modern NFL.
But it all starts with Burrow and Stafford, two quarterbacks whose teams have risen and fallen with them all season. Burrow won't be able to engineer a win if he can't stay upright in the pocket. And there are few defenses he could have hoped to meet less in Super Bowl LVI.
Super Bowl LVI score prediction: Rams 20, Bengals 17
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
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