The Cincinnati Bengals’ run to Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles is one that very few, if any, saw coming.
The Bengals entered the 2021-22 season with 125-1 odds to reach the championship game after having a 4-11-1 record in 2020-21 and a 2-14 record in 2019-20.
Only the 1999 St. Louis Rams (150-1) had worse odds and managed to make it to the big game.
None of this phased Joe Burrow and the Bengals as they were able to eke out a 27-24 overtime victory over the defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs to head to the franchise’s first Super Bowl since 1988.
Cincinnati is headed to the Super Bowl just two seasons removed from going 2-14. Only two other teams in NFL history – the 1981 San Francisco and 2003 Carolina Panthers – have managed to go from a two-win season to championship appearance in such a short timeframe. Should the Bengals win the Super Bowl, they will match the 49ers as the fastest turnaround to win a championship, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Burrow, 25, paid dividends for the Bengals as their starting quarterback during the regular season where he finished in the top 10 in the NFL in passing yards (sixth), touchdowns (eighth), and completion percentage (first).
But the playoffs are where Burrow has shone, with 842 passing yard, four touchdowns and a 68.8 completion percentage.
The 6-foot-4 quarterback has already become the fastest No. 1 pick to make the Super Bowl, managing the feat in only two seasons. He will also become the seventh quarterback to start a Super Bowl within his first two seasons, joining Dan Marino, Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Colin Kaepernick, and Russell Wilson.
Burrow can join more exclusive company should the Bengals win the championship.
The Louisiana State University alum can join Joe Montana and Joe Namath as the only quarterbacks to win a CFP National Championship and a Super Bowl. He can also join running backs Tony Dorsett and Marcus Allen, and defensive back Charles Woodson as the only players – and first quarterback – to win a Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl in their career.
The Bengals’ Super Bowl appearance also gives Burrow the opportunity to do something no player has done before by winning the Heisman Trophy, CFP National Championship, become the No. 1 overall NFL draft pick, and win a Super Bowl in a career.
While much of the attention will go to Burrow, another large factor in the Bengals turnaround is 2021 No. 5 overall pick Ja’Marr Chase.
The wide receiver was a teammate of Joe Burrow at LSU and their chemistry continued to the NFL. Chase finished fourth in the NFL this season in receiving yards with 1,429 and third in touchdowns with 13.
Chase is fourth in the NFL in playoff receiving yards this season with 279 and his only touchdown happened to complete the 18-point comeback against the Chiefs.
Cincinnati’s opponent for Super Bowl LVI will be the Los Angeles Rams.
The two teams have not faced each other since Oct. 18, 2019, when former Rams quarterback Jared Goff threw for 372 yards with two touchdowns as the Rams beat the Bengals 24-10.
Needless to say, this is a very different Bengals team.