Graphic by David Jakacky

After a crazy football season full of highs and lows, shocking upsets and fantastic games, we have made it to the Super Bowl.

This year, the Cincinnati Bengals are facing off against the Los Angeles Rams. This is the Bengals’ third Super Bowl appearance ever and their first since 1989, and they have the chance to win their first Lombardi Trophy. This is the Rams’ fourth Super Bowl appearance, with only one victory back in 2000.

Coming into this season, no one thought the Bengals were actual Super Bowl contenders. Many people did not believe they would even make the playoffs – let alone the Super Bowl – but here we are.

Rising star quarterback Joe Burrow leads the Bengals offense. After tearing his ACL and MCL last season, he bounced back stronger than ever. Burrow completed 366 passes on 520 attempts for 4,611 yards, and had 34 touchdown passes this season. There is no question that Cincinnati needs him to have a big game to win.

Versatile running back Joe Mixon is the clear number one back for the Bengals. He had a strong season after missing all but six games last season with a foot injury. Mixon carried the ball 292 times for 1,205 yards and 13 touchdowns, while adding 42 catches for 314 yards and three scores through the air.

After a bad preseason, many people were doubting rookie Ja’Marr Chase’s ability, but he proved everybody wrong this season by having a terrific first year. His performance will almost certainly see him take home the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Chase caught 81 passes for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns. Tee Higgins has been a great second option in his second season of his career, catching 74 passes for 1,901 yards and six touchdowns. Tight end C.J. Uzomah was very solid this season, but he may not play in the Super Bowl thanks to a sprained MCL, so look for tight end Drew Sample to have a good game.

Newcomer Trey Hendrickson leads the Bengals defense in sacks with 14, while linebacker Logan Wilson leads the team with 100 tackles. Wilson also leads in interceptions with four. The Bengals defense will have its hands full playing the Rams, but they will need to play hard if they want to win.

Veteran newcomer Matthew Stafford leads the Rams offense after they traded for him in the offseason. He completed 404 passes on 601 attempts for 4,886 yards and 41 touchdowns on the season.

When Cam Akers tore his Achilles tendon during the last offseason, everybody thought he would be out for the whole season, except for Akers himself. Akers defied all odds and returned fewer than six months later. He has not played much this postseason, but he could end up making a big difference in the Super Bowl.

Cooper Kupp has always been one of the best Rams players, but he has never been able to stay healthy. That all changed this season, where, for the first time in his career, Kupp played every game. Kupp, finally being able to maintain health, had a historic season, becoming the fourth wide receiver in modern NFL history to win the Triple Crown. He led the NFL with 145 receptions, 1,947 receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns. His clutch performances in the playoffs have  been a significant reason the Rams have made it to the playoffs, and the Rams will need him to continue their dominance against the Bengals.

When he was cut by the Browns earlier this season, many were quick to question wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., saying he was washed up. Since coming to the Rams, he has proved that he is far from that. So far in the postseason, OBJ has come to life averaging 88 yards per game. In the NFC Championship, OBJ had a breakout performance with his first game over 100 yards since joining the team in November. He could be a major factor in helping the Rams win the Super Bowl. 

In a situation similar to that of the Bengals, Rams tight end Tyler Higbee has been dealing with an injury that may force him out of the Super Bowl. If that is the case, Kendall Blanton will replace him in the biggest game of his career.

The Rams defense is led by three-time defensive player of the year Aaron Donald. This season, he has sacked the quarterback 12.5 times and forced four fumbles. Safety Taylor Rapp leads the team in tackles with 94 and is tied with Pro Bowl corner Jalen Ramsey with four interceptions. The Rams defense will need to stop Burrow and the passing game in order for them to win the Super Bowl. 

Super Bowl LVI will take place on Sunday, Feb. 13. Will the Bengals win their first Super Bowl, or will the Rams avenge their Super Bowl loss from 2019?