Super Bowl LVI: The Ultimate Preview

An in-depth positional analysis of the big game
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By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Hunter De Siver

The Super Bowl. The most exciting annual event on television in the United States. Three hours to decide the difference between one of the best or worst moments in a football player’s life.

There have been 55 of these moments, with thousands of players to share them. This Sunday will be the 56th moment.

Every Super Bowl has had some sort of theme. Whether it was before or after the big game, they all had something to remember it by.

There are plenty of themes already for this year’s game. Two that stand out is coaching youth and momentum.

Rams head coach Sean McVay (36) and Bengals head coach Zac Taylor (38) have the youngest combined age for head coaches in Super Bowl history. McVay was the coach for the Rams in their last Super Bowl appearance in 2018, and Taylor was his assistant.

Momentum is a huge part of any sport. Last season, the Tampa Buccaneers were 7-5 at one point in the regular season. They never lost a game after that as they won the Super Bowl. Both teams didn’t necessarily do this in the regular season, but each of their last two games of their playoff runs, they won on a game-winning field goal.

Both teams look a lot different now than they did last season. The Bengals had one of the worst records in the NFL as they only had four wins. The Rams were still a good team, but they  traded for quarterback Matthew Stafford and signed Super Bowl 50 MVP linebacker Von Miller and multiple-time Pro Bowlers wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and safety Eric Weddle.

On paper, the Rams are the better team by a significant margin. They have three guaranteed future hall of famers on defense alone, with Miller, Weddle and Aaron Donald; Ramsey will likely be enshrined as well.

The Bengals have more confidence and swagger. Sometimes that’s all you need. Also, the world is rooting for them.

It is unknown who will take home this year’s Lombardi Trophy. However, here is a positional breakdown to help you decide.


Rams: Matthew Stafford

Bengals: Joe Burrow

Advantage: Matthew Stafford

This is one that a lot of people will probably disagree with. Stafford has waited 12 years to be on a good team and when he finally got his wish, he made it to the Super Bowl. Burrow is the young, confident kid who has a Heisman Trophy and National Championship under his belt. Even though both teams have excellent receiving cores, Stafford’s record-setting receiver Cooper Kupp is the only reason why he has the edge.

Running Back

Rams: Cam Akers

Bengals: Joe Mixon

Advantage: Bengals

Cam Akers has recently made a miraculous recovery from an achilles injury back in the summer. While he is talented, he is not close to Mixon. Mixon was one the top running backs this year after having an injury-ridden young career.

Wide Receiver

Rams: Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr., Van Jefferson

Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd

Advantage: Rams

You can make an argument that these are the two best receiving cores in the NFL. However, Cooper Kupp’s triple crown (led the league in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns) combined with the reincarnation of OBJ is why the Rams have a slight edge over Chase and Higgins. This game can definitely come down to the battle between Jefferson and Tyler Boyd, though.

Tight End

Rams: Tyler Higbee

Bengals: C.J. Uzomah

Advantage: Rams

Both tight ends ironically got hurt in the conference championships. They are both currently striving to get healthy in time for the big game. Higbee has been the more talented tight end all season, but Uzomah has had certain bursts of excitement in games this season as well. 

Offensive Line

Rams: Andrew Whitworth, David Edwards, Brian Allen, Austin Corbettm Rob Havenstein

Bengals: Jonah Williams, Quinton Spain, Trey Hopkins, Hakeem Adeniji, Isaiah Prince

Advantage: Rams

This is not even close. The Rams have one of the better offensive lines in the league, while the Bengals have allowed more sacks than any other team in the NFL (playoffs included). This could be a big issue for the Bengals, especially with backup guard Hakeem Adeniji likely facing against Aaron Donald, the best player in the National Football League.

Defensive Line

Rams: A’Shawn Robinson, Greg Gaines, Aaron Donald 

Bengals: Sam Hubbard, D.J. Reader, B.J. Hill, Trey Hendrickson

Advantage: Rams

The Bengals defensive line is excellent, but they don’t have Aaron Donald. Donald is arguably a top 10 defensive tackle in the history of the sport. The big game will likely be decided by the  inconsistent Bengals offense line.


Rams: Leonard Floyd, Ernest Jones, Troy Reeder, Von Miller

Bengals: Logan Wilson, Germaine Pratt, Markus Bailey

Advantage: Rams

This position is also somewhat close, as the Bengals have a solid linebacker core. The only problem is that the Rams have Von Miller, who has shined in the Super Bowl before (Super Bowl 50 MVP). Leonard Floyd and Troy Reeder are also excellent.

Defensive Backs

Rams: Jalen Ramsey, Darious Williams, David Long Jr., Eric Weddle, Nick Scott

Bengals: Eli Apple, Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton, Jessie Bates III, Von Bell

Advantage: Bengals

This may be the toughest choice. Jalen Ramsey is the best player at his position in the NFL and Eric Weddle is an all-time great safety who came out of retirement a few weeks ago. However, the Bengals have a more well-rounded secondary, except for Eli Apple. The matchup to watch is Ramsey vs Chase, which can change the entire game. 

Special Teams

Rams: Matt Gay, Johnny Hekker

Bengals: Evan McPherson, Kevin Huber

Advantage: Bengals

Historically, Matt Gay and Johnny Hekker are better. However, Bengals rookie kicker is setting records these playoffs that can eventually turn him into an all-time great. His confidence and clutch ability has won the Bengals the last three playoff games.

Final Tally

Los Angeles Rams: 6

Cincinnati Bengals: 3

The Rams have more talent, better coaching and experience in the big game. However, most of the 100 million people that will watch the Super Bowl don’t have their support.

The Bengals confidence, chemistry and ability to defy the underdog role have gotten them this far.  Joe Burrow has proved that he has no issue with having most of the country’s weight on his shoulder (Even though the game will be played on the Rams home turf). Why wouldn’t they shock the world for one more Sunday?

Super Bowl LVI kicks off this Sunday at 5:30 p.m. on NBC.

Categories: Sports