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NFL Conference Championships: Bengals, Rams into Super Bowl

Bengals QB Joe Burrow

While NFL Championship Weekend wasn’t quite as thrilling as the Divisional Round, it definitely did not disappoint. The Super Bowl stage is now set: it will be the Cincinnati Bengals against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on February 13.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs

Correct pick: Cincinnati Bengals +7
Final score: Cincinnati Bengals 27 def. Kansas City Chiefs 24

It feels like the past three weeks people have been waiting for the Bengals’ storybook season to wrap up, but it’s not over yet. The Bengals are slowly becoming America’s team as they continue to pull off upset after upset, and there was perhaps no bigger upset than this game. The Chiefs were favored by a full touchdown and were the Super Bowl betting favorites to start the year, whereas the Bengals were +2000 in the early outright markets.

The Chiefs got off to a scorching start, scoring touchdowns on their first three drives. Patrick Mahomes had delivered all three touchdown passes and they went up 21-3 early. Their success came to an end at the end of the first half when Andy Reid decided to keep his offense on the field to try to score a last-second touchdown before halftime instead of taking the three points. The Chiefs didn’t convert and instead lost yards while trying to force the ball to Tyreek Hill before the half ended, and this is where the tide began to turn.

The Bengals went to the locker room at halftime coming off a huge stop and whatever Zac Taylor preached to the team, it worked. Cincinnati tied the game right before the end of the third quarter at 21-21, and a game that once looked like a blowout was all of a sudden little too close for comfort for the favorited Chiefs.

The fourth quarter was slow, but Cincinnati managed to take the lead on a 52-yard field goal by Evan McPherson, putting them ahead by three points. As we’ve seen so many times before, Mahomes and the Chiefs are tough to shut down in late-game situations. At the end of regulation, Mahomes managed to get the Chiefs into field-goal range where Harrison Butker locked the game back up at 24. For the second time in as many weeks, the Chiefs would be playing in overtime.

As overtime rules in the NFL became a subject of controversy after last week’s game between the Bills and Chiefs, and the issue reared its ugly head again when the Chiefs yet again won the coin toss and took possession to begin the extra quarter. For a game that was supposed to be a laugher, the Bengals managed to take the almighty Chiefs to overtime. This is where their season ends, right?

Mahomes would go on to throw two ugly passes to begin the extended regulation, one nearly intercepted and the other actually intercepted. Burrow took the field for the Bengals with a shot to win the game. ‘January Joe’ was up to the task and marched the Bengals right down the field to put McPherson (also known as ‘Money Mac’) in position to kick yet another game-winning field goal, this time to send the Bengals to their first Super Bowl since 1989.

McPherson would drill it and the Bengals’ Cinderella season continues. Burrow will look to become the first Heisman Trophy winner to win a Super Bowl in history.

San Fransisco 49ers @ Los Angeles Rams

Correct pick: San Fransisco 49ers +3.5
Final score: Los Angeles Rams 20 def. San Fransisco 49ers 17

In the third showdown between two NFC West rivals, this game was what you’d expect.

The 2021 Rams and 49ers know each other perhaps more than any other two teams in the entire league. It is normally chippy between these two teams and this game was no exception.

The game started with the Rams driving right down the field. Matt Stafford had completed seven of nine passes for 53 yards when he targeted none other than Cooper Kupp in the endzone, where the pass was tipped up into the air and returned nearly 25 yards by Jimmy Ward. A long drive ended with no points for the Rams. The game went into halftime with the Niners up 10-7, but everyone knew these two teams weren’t playing the way they were capable of playing.

The game remained low scoring into the third quarter until Jimmy Garoppolo found George Kittle in the endzone to give the 49ers a 17-7 lead. Sean McVay and the loaded Rams offense had one quarter to get back into the game, or else their Super Bowl-or-bust season would end against the team they lost to twice in the regular season.

Stafford and the Rams were up to the task. LA scored 13 points in the fourth quarter and pulled ahead with a Matt Gay 30-yard field goal with under two minutes left in the game. The score was 20-17 when Garoppolo and the Niners took the field with three timeouts and plenty of time left to play. The drive got off to a shaky start and never found its footing. On 3rd and 13, Garoppolo dropped back to try to get something going when he was pressured by Aaron Donald, which caused the 49ers quarterback to toss the ball up on a whim for an easy pickoff. The errant throw iced the game for the Rams and sent them to their second Super Bowl in four years.

Sean McVay and the Rams will look to change the narrative around them. In their last Super Bowl appearance, they put up all of three points against the Patriots as Tom Brady claimed his sixth ring. This is a different Rams team, McVay has grown as a coach and the quarterback position has been upgraded drastically. In 2018, the Rams were a young and rising team, but in 2022 they are no longer rising – they are here.

Super Bowl LVI – Bengals vs Rams

The Super Bowl matchup isn’t what people thought it would be at the beginning of the season, but that’s the beauty of the NFL Playoffs. Once you’re in the dance, who knows what can happen – the Cincinnati Bengals are living breathing proof of this. It’s time to hunker down for the next two weeks and find some sneaky Super Bowl bets with your favorite football betting sites to kill the time until February 13.

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