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Rams Vs Bengals Super Bowl 2022 Injury Report With Pro Football Doc

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com

Dan Kilbridge  | 6 mins

Rams Vs Bengals Super Bowl 2022 Injury Report With Pro Football Doc

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The National Football League is still a game of attrition. That was truer than ever in 2021, with the schedule increasing to 17 regular season games. Success in the NFL is as much about staying as healthy as possible, with weekly injuries adding up to have almost as big an impact as scheme and player performance. Now there are just two teams left standing, with the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams set to meet in Super Bowl 56 at SoFi Stadium in California.

It’s no surprise that injuries have been a major part of the journey for both teams – including the second-half resurgence from Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow after he suffered a torn ACL and MCL to prematurely end his rookie season in 2020. Nobody knew how he would respond or if he would even be healthy enough to play this season. But at least one person had a highly-educated guess, which proved to be incredibly accurate.

Dr. David Chao served as head physician for the San Diego Chargers from 1997-2013 and is internationally recognized as a top sports medicine expert. Chao, who no longer works for an NFL team, is now an orthopedic surgeon in San Diego. He’s also recently started tapping into his unique expertise for an entirely different purpose – daily fantasy sports and NFL betting.

“In the beginning, I knew fantasy people cared about it. I knew fans cared about it. But you always knew that there were gamblers out there,” Chao told Bookies.com. “But now that it’s been legalized and every state is coming on board, that’s when I’m embracing it.”

Chao has since become a renowned figure in the sports betting world for his instant analysis and injury insight, amassing more than 188,000 Twitter followers from his @ProFootballDoc account.

He’s also developed a proprietary injury grading system for his Sports Injury Central website, which factors team and individual player health into a grade for bettors and DFS players to consider. Chao is largely able to do all this from video footage of injury incidents, rather than first-hand diagnoses on the field.

Assessing Joe Burrow's Injury Comeback

Take Burrow, for example. Some speculated he could or should sit out the entire 2021 season to recover. Chao didn’t think that was realistic at all. His initial preseason diagnosis couldn’t have proved to be more spot-on throughout the year.

“You remember there were pundits potentially saying he might not come back next year,” Chao said. “There was one that said he should just take 2021 off. And I would say, ‘No, I think he can be ready for the start of the season. However, we have to be realistic. He’s going to be better late season than he will early season. He’s gonna round himself into shape and form.'”

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The doubters persisted based on their own preconceived notions and outside observations. Chao placed a literal number on his progress and how he expected it to go throughout the season. Chao noted that while Burrow was hesitant to run earlier this season, he made several huge plays with his legs in the AFC Championship win over the Chiefs.

"He’s a great quarterback that now has his confidence and literally has his legs under him. So he’s a different guy right now. He’s full go,” Chao said. "We have this thing called a SIC score to show what percent health (players) are in. He’s in the 90s. Now, when we started the season, he was in the 60s, and he kept climbing throughout season as we graded him. And we try and use that to help gamblers with prop bets.”

The diagnosis was correct. While the Bengals’ defense led the team to a 4-2 start, Burrow only surpassed 300 passing yards once in those six games. The low point came in a 20-17 loss to the Chicago Bears, during which Burrow threw interceptions on three consecutive pass attempts.

Things changed in a big way late in the year. With Burrow fully healthy on the exact timeline Chao predicted, he passed for at least 300 yards in four of the last five regular-season games – including a career-high 525 yards and four touchdowns passes in a win over the Ravens. He also matched a season-high with 25 rushing yards on five attempts in the AFC Championship win over the Chiefs. That will be crucial again in the Super Bowl, with Burrow up against one of the scariest defensive lines in the NFL behind a below-average offensive line.

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Questions At TE For Bengals and Rams

While Burrow is now full-go, both the Bengals and Rams have injury questions leading up to the Super Bowl. Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah and Rams tight end Tyler Higbee suffered sprained MCLs in their conference championship victories. There’s no official word on their status with the big game a week away.

Chao believes both would sit out a regular-season matchup under the same circumstances. Leaning on his past experiences with the Chargers, however, he knows this is a different diagnosis.

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“There is no way either one is playing Week 12. Period. End of story,” Chao said. “Because it’s the Super Bowl – and I will admit, I personally worked Super Bowls as a host physician, but have not as a team physician. I hear from all my colleagues – and I say this facetiously – and by my observation, there are some great healing powers in that extra week or two weeks before the Super Bowl. See Terrell Owens with his ankle fracture (before playing in Super Bowl 39). See a lot of examples. No one wants to miss this game.”

It’s increasingly clear that bettors shouldn’t miss Chao’s season-long diagnosis, either. He’s proved the ability to identify injuries just from watching film of the play, declaring a player will miss an upcoming game before it’s reported elsewhere and factored into the point spread.

Keep an eye out for his official grades on the Bengals and Rams in the coming days, as well as his extended analysis on Uzomah and Higbee. When it comes to sports gambling, accurate injury insight can make all the difference when it comes to placing that wager on your sports betting app.

“How well and what routes can they run is the question, and that’s where the SIC score comes in,” Chao said. “I’m not sure that they will be 100%. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe they will be 100% even if they can play.”

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About the Author

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com
Dan Kilbridge
Handicapper Dan Kilbridge writes about college football, MLB and other sports for Bookies.com after spending three years covering Tiger Woods’ comeback and the PGA for Golfweek.