Well, this year's NFL playoffs have been pretty exciting.
How exciting? Each of the last six playoff games has been decided by seven or fewer points. Contributing to that total, the Divisional Round was the first playoff weekend in NFL history in which all four games were decided on the final play, and both conference championship games were decided by just three points.
The Los Angeles Rams will take the momentum from a trio of postseason wins — two of which came by a field goal — to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LVI in SoFi Stadium, which just so happens to be their home stadium. They’ll take the field against the Cincinnati Bengals, whose three playoff wins have all been decided by just one possession, including a dramatic 27-24 overtime win at Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game which saw the Bengals score 24 of the final 27 points to mount a stellar comeback from a 21-3 deficit with 5:04 remaining in the second quarter.
In addition to these fascinating results, here are 10 key stats that will be key factors in determining the outcome of Super Bowl LVI on Sunday.
4,067: Combined receiving yards (including the playoffs) for Cooper Kupp and Ja'Marr Chase
The matchup of the Rams and Bengals on Sunday marks the first time in NFL history that the league's top two receivers (by yards) will square off in the Super Bowl. Kupp, who won the triple crown this season, including 1,947 receiving yards, has added another 386 in three playoff games. He has eclipsed the century mark in 13 of 20 games and has scored in 14 contests. Chase, who was fourth in the league with 1,455 yards and has added 279 in the postseason, has posted seven 100-yard performances in his standout rookie campaign with four of those coming in the last six games.
74: The combined age of Sean McVay (Rams, 36 years old) and Zac Taylor (Bengals, 38 years old) marks the youngest matchup of Super Bowl head coaches in NFL history
Super Bowl LVI will also be the first time that both head coaches in the same Super Bowl entered younger than 40 years old. McVay would become the youngest-ever head coach to win a Super Bowl if Los Angeles comes out on top, while a win for Cincinnati would make Taylor the second-youngest Super Bowl-winning head coach behind only Mike Tomlin who won Super Bowl XLIII just a month shy of his 37th birthday.
50: This is just the third Super Bowl where an offense entered having been sacked 50 times and a defense entered with at least 50 sacks
Los Angeles finished the regular season third in the NFL with 50 sacks, trailing only Pittsburgh (55) and Minnesota (51). The Rams notched at least one sack in every regular-season game and multiple sacks in all but Week 10 (at San Francisco) and Week 12 (at Green Bay). They finished the regular season strong, with 20 sacks in their last six games, and have added five thus far in the postseason. All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection Aaron Donald leads the way with 14.5 sacks (including playoffs), with Leonard Floyd (10.5) and Von Miller (7.0) also causing plenty of havoc.
Cincinnati, on the other hand, is one of just five offenses to allow at least 50 sacks in the regular season, and its total of 55 was surpassed only by Chicago (58) and Baltimore (57). One positive outlook is that the Bengals won all three regular-season games in which they allowed fewer than two sacks, and only once this postseason have they allowed more than two sacks, although that was when they surrendered was a playoff-record-tying nine to Tennessee in the Divisional Round.
19: Cincinnati's defense committed just 19 penalties that resulted in a first down, the fewest in the NFL
While the Bengals tied for the fifth-most penalties (116) committed on defense during the regular season, only 19 of those penalties resulted in a first down. The Rams' defense, meanwhile, tied for the fourth-fewest penalties (88) but had slightly more (22) that led to opposing offenses receiving a fresh set of downs.
8: Including the playoffs, Los Angeles has won eight of its 10 road games compared to seven of 10 home games
Now, here's the fascinating part: Due to the NFL alternating the designation for the home and away teams between conferences each year, the Bengals — not the Rams — will be the official home team for Super Bowl LVI.
So while the Rams have enjoyed plenty of success (to the tune of a 7-3 record) inside SoFi Stadium in 2021, they actually have a slightly better road record (8-2). In fact, while Los Angeles has won four of its last five home games at SoFi Stadium, the Rams have won four in a row on the road, all of which were decided by seven or fewer points.
5: Sunday's meeting will be the fifth between the Rams and Bengals in the state of California, with the two teams splitting the previous four
These two franchises first met in 1972 when the Rams took a 10-0 halftime lead before kicking a fourth-quarter field goal to edge out a 15-12 win at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Bengals won each of their next two trips to Los Angeles in 1978 and '90 before falling 24-10 in 2019, their first meeting after the Rams had returned to Los Angeles from St. Louis.
4: A Super Bowl win by Los Angeles would be the fourth by a team that plays its home games indoors
Historically, the teams that play their home games indoors have been seen as being unable to adapt as well to subpar weather conditions, especially in the winter months as the unpredictability of Mother Nature is ever so present.
Indoor eams have only reached a total of nine Super Bowls, three of which (including this season) have been tallied by the Rams. And the Rams were the first-ever team that played indoors to win a Super Bowl, beating the Tennessee Titans 23-16 in Super Bowl XXXIV on Jan. 30, 2000, in … the Georgia Dome. Only two other teams have managed to accomplish the feat — with both doing so in Miami Gardens at Sun Life Stadium/Hard Rock Stadium — as the Colts topped the Bears in Super Bowl XLI in 2007 and the Saints took down the Colts three years later in Super Bowl XLIV.
3: This is Cincinnati’s third-ever Super Bowl appearance, all of which have come against teams from California
Entering this season, the Bengals had not won a playoff game since the 1990 campaign. After a 41-15 Wild Card Round win over the Houston Oilers in January 1991, the longest drought in the four major North American sports began when the Bengals fell 20-10 to the Los Angeles Raiders in the Divisional Round.
Cincinnati opened this season’s playoffs with wins over both of those franchises, taking down the Raiders in the Queen City in the Wild Card Round before upsetting the top-seeded Titans on the road in the Divisional Round. The Bengals will now look for their first-ever Super Bowl win after losses to San Francisco in both Super Bowl XXIII (1989) and Super Bowl XVI (1982).
2: The Rams are the second team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium
Los Angeles isn’t just the second team in league history to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium, but the second in as many seasons after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium last February. No team had ever played in — let alone won — a Super Bowl in its home stadium before the Buccaneers did just that, a feat that has now been accomplished in consecutive years as the Rams look for a similar result to their home-stadium predecessors.
The Rams would become the first NFL franchise ever to win two Super Bowls as an indoors team if they come away victorious on Sunday, but they would also clinch the feat in a manner unheard of before the 2020 season: inside their home stadium. Interestingly, as noted earlier, they would actually do so as the "away" team.
1: With a victory, Joe Burrow would become the first player to win the Heisman Trophy, a national championship, a Super Bowl, and be a No. 1 overall pick
And he would complete that quartet in his first NFL postseason appearance. Burrow began his collection of accolades at a young age, winning the Mr. Football Award for the state of Ohio in 2014 before his selection as a unanimous All-American and the SEC Offensive Player of the Year in 2019. His Heisman Trophy win — by the largest margin in the history of the award — preceded his dominant and record-setting performance in the College Football Playoff en route to a national championship, a showing upon which he’s built thanks to the numerous Bengals franchise records he now owns.
— Written by Juan Jose Rodriguez, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a 2019 graduate of the University of Notre Dame. Rodriguez was an intern for Athlon during summer 2017 and worked for a variety of media outlets on campus, including as the Editor-in-Chief of Scholastic Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @JuanJoseRG02.