After their outstanding underdog performance in the 2021-22 NFL playoffs led the Cincinnati Bengals to Super Bowl LVI, the Bengals continue their march to Super Bowl 57 with a second-straight AFC title game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Could a repeat be in store Sunday for the Bengals? All eyes will be on this matchup of elite quarterbacks Joe Burrow of the Bengals and Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City.
What are the current Bengals Super Bowl odds?
Bengals were the underdogs in all of their Super Bowls
In all three Super Bowl appearances, the Cincinnati squad was the underdog, according to oddsmakers. According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, the 1982 Bengals were just +1 underdogs against the 49ers. The over/under was 48.0 points.
In 1989, the 49ers once again had the edge, according to the sportsbooks. They were -6.0 favorites, with a total line at 46.0 points. For the 2022 showdown with the Los Angeles Rams, the Bengals once again found themselves as the underdog, with opening betting lines, according to Sports Illustrated, coming in at +165 for the Cincinnati scrappers. They were +4.0 underdogs on the spread, and the over/under was 48.5 points.
Super Bowl LVI: Los Angeles Rams vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Feb. 13, 2022
Everyone was anticipating a close game heading into the matchup. The oddsmakers had given the Rams the edge, but not by much. They opened at -4.5 on the point spread and -200 on the moneyline. The Bengals opened at +165 on the moneyline.
The game started off with the Rams bolting out of the gate to a 7-3 lead by the end of the first quarter. They got on the board with a 17-yard pass from Matthew Stafford to Odell Beckham Jr., with Matt Gay adding the extra point. By the half, the Rams still led, 13-10. Their second score came off an 11-yard pass from Stafford to eventual Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp in the second quarter. The two-point conversion attempt failed.
The Bengals’ first score was a 29-yard field goal by Evan McPherson with 28 seconds left in the first quarter. They narrowed the LA lead with 5:47 left in the first half on a six-yard pass from Joe Mixon to Tee Higgins. McPherson added the point-after.
The Bengals’ coaching staff made some adjustments at halftime and came out swinging to start the third quarter. Quarterback Joe Burrow helped the offense put up 10 points while the defense kept the Rams’ scoring to just three on a field goal.
Burrow found Higgins on a 75-yard scoring play at the 14:48 mark in the third quarter to take a 17-13 lead following McPherson’s kick. Cincinnati added three more points just over four minutes later with a 38-yard field goal by McPherson.
Leading heading into the final stanza of the NFL championship game, the Cincinnati faithful could only clasp their hands together and hope their third shot at the Lombardi Trophy and a Super Bowl title would be the charm.
Los Angeles, playing on home turf at SoFi Stadium, had other plans. They managed to put together the only scoring drive of the final quarter, adding seven points to secure the victory over the scrappy Bengals.
They cut into the Cincinnati lead with 5:58 left in the third quarter when Gay hit a 41-yard field goal to make it a 20-16 contest. The final nail in the Bengals’ coffin came with just 1:25 left when Stafford found Kupp on a one-yard strike with Gay adding the PAT for a 23-20 final.
The two teams proved to be extremely evenly matched. The Rams finished with 313 total yards. The Bengals ended the game with 305. Stafford threw for 283 yards. Burrow had 263 through the air. The Rams had 66 total plays in the game. The Bengals finished with 61.
The biggest difference? Third-down efficiency. Los Angeles was able to convert on six of its 15 third downs and on its only fourth-down offensive play of the evening. The Bengals converted on three of their 14 third-down attempts and went one for three on fourth downs. The Bengals did have the edge on turnovers as they didn’t fumble away the football or throw an interception at all during the Super Bowl, while the Rams threw two picks.
With the point spread starting at -4.5 in favor of the Rams, Los Angeles wasn’t able to cover, though bettors who went with the LA moneyline ended up happy at the end of the game.
Super Bowl XXIII: San Francisco 49ers vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Jan. 22, 1989
Seven years later, the Bengals would get another shot at the 49ers in the last Super Bowl of the 1980s. This game, at least, would have nicer weather despite some rain and an annoyingly consistent 17 mph wind.
But Miami wasn’t extremely welcoming, either. A police shooting sparked rioting not far from where the Cincinnati team was staying. Bengals running back Stanley Wilson was suspended for drug use, and the opening minutes of the contest featured two unfortunate leg injuries. The first was a fractured ankle to 49ers left tackle Steve Wallace that came on the third play of the game. The second came just 11 plays later when standout Cincinnati nose tackle Tim Krumrie fractured his tibia and fibula.
Cincinnati fans were no doubt ecstatic when their team went up 16-13 on a 40-yard field goal from Jim Breech with just over three minutes left in the game. Revenge was on the table, and it looked as if the Bengals were going to eat well. All they needed was a defensive stop.
That, however, never happened. Joe Montana drove his team 92 yards to score the winning touchdown on a 10-yard pass to John Taylor with just 34 seconds left in the game to make it a 20-16 San Francisco lead.
With 26 seconds left in the game, Boomer Esiason found Tim McGee for a five-yard completion. Unfortunately, the next play was a four-yard loss on a sack by Charles Haley. The next two plays were incomplete passes from Esiason to Collinsworth.
And then the 49ers faithful had another Lombardi Trophy to cheer about.
The point spread was in favor of the San Francisco club at -6.0, which the team ended up not covering. Bettors who expected a stout defensive showing and wagered on the under came away victorious, as the 36 total points were well under the line of 46.
Super Bowl XVI: San Francisco 49ers vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Jan. 24, 1982
The Pontiac Silverdome was supposed to be the perfect northern location for a Super Bowl. It was indoors with a nice 70-some degree atmosphere for players and for fans.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature made it a bit of a nightmare. The week prior, horrifically cold winter weather struck the region, with snow and sleet that turned everything into a glaze of ice and created poor road conditions.
Fans, media and even the San Francisco players’ bus were delayed on the expressway leading into Pontiac. Players on both teams were suffering from the use of heaters in their hotel rooms, drying out the air and making most feel dehydrated.
In short, the perfect northern location for a Super Bowl was an absolute nightmare. And it just got worse if you’re a Bengals fan.
The 49ers led 20-0 at the half before the Bengals were able to make some much-needed adjustments to their game plan. In the third quarter, Ken Anderson got the team on the board with a 5-yard rushing touchdown with an extra point from Jim Breech. He followed that up with a four-yard passing score to Dan Ross, which made it a 20-14 game following the kick by Breech.
San Francisco didn’t find the end zone at any point in the second half, but two field goals by Ray Wersching from 40 and 23 yards away made it a 26-14 game, which would prove to be too much of a hole for the Bengals to dig out of. That didn’t stop them from trying, however, as they added a final score on a 3-yard pass from Anderson to Ross, with Breech adding the extra point.
The final, 26-21, was enough for the 49ers to cover the spread. Bettors who took a shot at the over on 48 points ended up losing, however.
Bengals playoff history
The Cincinnati Bengals began play in 1968. Two years later, they made the playoffs, where they lost to the Baltimore Colts, 17-0. Three years later, they made another appearance but lost in the first round once again, this time by the Miami Dolphins in a 34-16 showing. In 1975, the team found itself exiting in the opening round yet again, this time losing to the Oakland Raiders, 31-28.
The organization regrouped and made the trek to Pontiac to play in the Super Bowl following the 1981 season. The Bengals beat the Buffalo Bills, 28-21, and the San Diego Chargers, 27-7, to wind up facing the 49ers in the championship.
The following year, Cincinnati once again made the playoffs but lost in the wildcard round to the New York Jets, 44-17.
It took six seasons before the Bengals would make the playoffs again. They made it count, however, with another Super Bowl tilt against the 49ers. They lost the game in the final minutes, 20-16. Along the way, they defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 21-13, and the Buffalo Bills, 21-10.
The 1990 season would be the last time the Bengals won a playoff game until 2021-22. They dominated the Houston Oilers, 41-14, before losing to the Los Angeles Raiders, 20-10, in the divisional round.
The Bengals then made the playoffs in 2005, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. They lost in the wildcard round in each of those appearances, however.
The long drought ended in 2021, as quarterback Joe Burrow helped lead his team to the Super Bowl. The Bengals first beat the Las Vegas Raiders before surprising the Tennessee Titans, 19-16, despite being the underdogs in sportsbooks across the country.
The upsets continued in the AFC Championship game, when the Bengals forced the Kansas City Chiefs into overtime and won, 27-24. In the Super Bowl, the Los Angeles Rams were the favorites. They opened at -4.5 on the point spread and -200 on the moneyline. The Bengals opened at +165 on the moneyline.