It’s been a season of parity in the NFL.

That fact is exemplified by this year’s Super Bowl representation, the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams, two teams who earned the No. 4 playoff seeds in their respective conferences.

Who will take home the Lombardi Trophy when the Bengals and Rams face each other in the 2022 Super Bowl on Sunday (4:30 p.m. MST, NBC)?

These are just a few of several key storylines that could define this year’s game:

Super Bowl 2022

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Los Angeles Rams

Date: Sunday, Feb. 13

Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. MST

Venue: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, California)


Battle of the QBs

As is usual for a game of this magnitude, quarterback play is expected to be a major factor in Sunday’s matchup.

For both Los Angeles’ Matthew Stafford and Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, it’s their first appearance in a Super Bowl.

The pair, though, have quite different NFL stories at this point.

Stafford played for 12 seasons with Detroit and, up until this season when he was traded to Los Angeles, he had never won a playoff game. 

Burrow is in his second pro season, and it’s his first making the entire year healthy after his rookie season was cut short by a torn ACL.

Both have been key playmakers for their teams this season. 

Stafford, after throwing for nearly 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns during the regular season, has completed 72% of his passes for 905 yards, six touchdowns and an interception in the postseason.

Burrow completed a league-high 70.4% of his passes during the regular season while throwing for over 4,500 yards and 34 touchdowns.

In the playoffs, he’s thrown for 842 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

How these quarterbacks handle the moment will be under a microscope this weekend.

“Between what the Rams gave up in the Stafford trade and Burrow’s already mythical status in Cincinnati, both quarterbacks are under tremendous pressure to perform in this year’s Super Bowl,” the Ringer’s Danny Heifetz wrote this week. “And how well they handle that pressure might be best measured by, well, how they handle pressure.”

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6 Utah ties in Super Bowl 2022

The two Utah ties most likely to make an impact in Sunday’s game both play for the Rams: former Utah safety Eric Weddle and former Utah and Orem High kicker Matt Gay.

Another former Utah secondary player, safety Terrell Burgess, will also suit up for Los Angeles, while Cincinnati has former Utah State cornerback Jalen Davis on its roster.

Utah ties on Super Bowl 2022 rosters

Los Angeles Rams

  • Utah safety Eric Weddle
  • Utah and Orem High kicker Matt Gay
  • Utah safety Terrell Burgess
  • Weber State defensive end Jonah Williams (practice squad)

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Utah State cornerback Jalen Davis
  • Timpview High guard Xavier Su’a-Filo (practice squad)

Two others — former Timpview High guard Xavier Su’a-Filo (Cincinnati) and former Weber State defensive end Jonah Williams (Los Angeles) — won’t play Sunday, as they are on their team’s respective practice squads.

The Super Bowl provides a unique situation for Davis’ dad. The La Mesa, California, native went undrafted out of Utah State in 2018 and fought through being cut by two other teams before landing in Cincinnati.

“Just for him to make that 53-man (active roster), that was awesome. But now, it’s a different type of joy. The entire family is happy for him. I’m on cloud nine right now,” Davis’ father, Verdis Davis, told NBC 7 in San Diego.

“… Here’s the funny thing, though. I’m actually a Rams fan,” the father said. 

So, who will Jalen Davis’ father be cheering for Sunday?

“Everybody knows. All my friends know. They ask me, so what are you going to wear to the Super Bowl? I’m like, you know I’ve got to represent my son,” he said.

Will Eric Weddle’s Super Bowl story have a Hollywood ending?

Weddle’s journey has been well-documented in recent weeks: The former Utes safety came out of retirement after two years away from the game and helped a Rams secondary depleted by injuries during the team’s postseason run.

Now, he’ll play a prominent role during the biggest game of his career, his first appearance in a Super Bowl.

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Weddle will be the team’s defensive play caller Sunday, wearing the green dot on his helmet in the Super Bowl. 

The 13-year NFL veteran and six-time Pro Bowler, who’s made it clear this will be his final game after unique circumstances brought him back, is looking forward to the chance to finally play for a championship. 

“Opportunity knocks. Are you going to be able to answer it and take advantage of it?” he said. 

Weddle had a team-high nine tackles in the Rams’ NFC championship game win over San Francisco, and has provided a vital leadership role since joining the team for the playoffs.  

The moment hasn’t been lost on Weddle, though.

“There’s a job (that needs) to be done, and the job is not finished,” he said. “I just am who I am. I just love this game.

“I bring energy,” he said, of what he brings to a Rams team one the doorstep of a title. “We’ll look back at this season, and I’ll feel like I was meant to be here in this moment. … I’m just here loving it, grateful for it.

“I hold myself to the highest standard, and I think the guys have enjoyed me being around.”

Both teams have young clutch kickers

If the 2022 Super Bowl comes down to a game-winning field-goal attempt, both teams have kickers they are confident in for that moment.

For the Bengals, that is rookie kicker Evan McPherson, who coolly nailed field goals of 52 yards during the fourth quarter in back-to-back playoff weeks — one was the game-winner — and hit a 31-yarder in overtime of the AFC championship game to send the Bengals to the Super Bowl.

For the Rams, it’s the Utah native Gay, who like McPherson provided the game-winning points for his team in its playoff games during the divisional and conference championship weeks. 

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During the divisional round, the third-year pro Gay nailed a 30-yarder as time expired to lift Los Angeles past his former team, Tampa Bay, then he made two fourth-quarter field goals — of 40 and 30 yards — to help the Rams rally past San Francisco in the NFC championship game. 

He earned his first Pro Bowl honor this year after making 94% of his field-goal attempts (32 of 34) during the regular season.

“I’m expecting a great atmosphere, a great environment,” Gay said of Sunday’s matchup. “Expecting to go through my normal routine that I’ve been going through every game this year.

“For us, it’s no different. You just want to treat it with the same routine you’ve been doing all year.” 

He added, about his focus with so much on the line: “It’s going to be a good game, it’s going to be a battle. To be able to go out there and stay in the moment and be able to lock in and not get ahead of myself … and just take kicks one at a time. Focus on what comes next.”  

It will be a rare Super Bowl win for either team

Going into Sunday’s matchup, the Rams and Bengals franchises are a combined 1-5 in Super Bowls. 

The Rams won the Super Bowl in 2000, when the franchise was in St. Louis and beat the Tennessee Titans 23-16. 

They’ve lost three other times in the Super Bowl, including three years ago in Sean McVay’s second season as Los Angeles’ head coach.

The other Rams Super Bowl losses came in 1980 and 2002.

Cincinnati is 0-2 in Super Bowls, losing both times in one-possession games to San Francisco.

The Bengals lost to the 49ers in the 1982 Super Bowl, then seven years later in a 20-16 defeat after leading in the fourth quarter.

Both the Rams and Bengals earned the right to play in the 2022 Super Bowl by rallying for victory in their respective conference championships.

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Cincinnati trailed 21-3 against Kansas City in the AFC championship before scoring 24 of the game’s final 27 points to win 27-24 in overtime. 

Los Angeles was down 17-7 late in the third quarter to San Francisco before rallying with 13 straight points in the fourth quarter in the NFC championship.

Twice in the past five Super Bowls, a team has rallied from a double-digit deficit to win. The Patriots rallied from 25 down to beat Atlanta in the 2017 Super Bowl, while two years ago the Chiefs came from 10 down midway through the fourth quarter to beat the 49ers 31-20.

Could it happen again Sunday?

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