Super Bowl LVI Preview: Who will bring home the Lombardi?


Graphic Courtesy of Ingrid Hua

Cooper O’Kelly, Lead Sports Editor

The stage is set for Super Bowl LVI, as the Cincinnati Bengals play host to the Los Angeles Rams. An epic match-up with star power all over both sides of the ball, but more importantly, a game of stories.
One story crafted around the Rams is that they’re never looking to sit around and stay put, tossing money and draft capital every which way.
It all started after they forked up two first-round picks and a fourth-rounder to acquire star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and later inked him to a contract extension worth over $100 million.
After an off-season trade got the Rams a franchise quarterback in former Detroit Lion Matt Stafford, all of the NFL world was buzzing about what could be cooking in L.A.
Fast forward a couple months and two more blockbuster pick-ups in linebacker Von Miller and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and the Rams are loaded and poised to bring home a championship.
Along with these star players, the Rams have something extremely special in their homegrown wide receiver Cooper Kupp.
Kupp, selected by the Rams in the third round of the 2017 draft, has always been a solid offensive weapon but exploded onto the scene this season. He not only became the first pass-catcher to win the receiving Triple Crown (receptions, yards, and touchdowns) since Steve Smith in 2005, but also had quite possibly the best receiving season of all time and won the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year award.
Going from an FCS player and third round pick to one of the best receivers in the NFL is a great story, but now Kupp has the opportunity to do something even greater: win a Super Bowl.
There’s something special about this Bengals team. I’m not sure if it’s the underdog story or if it’s America’s sweetheart Joe Burrow, but it feels like this team is destined to win it all.
The route the Bengals took to get to this spot feels like it’s out of a movie. To start a timeline for their past three seasons, they went 2-14 in 2019 and secured the number one overall pick (which they used to take quarterback Joe Burrow).
Burrow then tore his ACL in his rookie season and Cincy only managed to pick up four wins. In the following off-season the Bengals selected Ja’Marr Chase and added a few key players via free agency, just in time for Burrow to come back off his injury.
Here we are today, and the Bengals are back competing for their first Super Bowl since 1988.
Joe Cool, Joey Franchise, Joe Sheisty, Joe Brrr, or whatever you call Joe Burrow is obviously one of the main reasons the Bengals are as good as they are. However, Burrow is sneakily climbing the ranks of NFL quarterbacks right before our very eyes.
Despite being only in his first full season, Burrow has been getting placed on the same level as players like Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray. And the sky is the limit for the young man. I mean he’s just now coming off a conference championship game in which he outdueled Patrick Mahomes, who he had already beat in the regular season.
Needless to say, the Bengals are in a good spot as a team right now, but they look sure to be a perennial contender for years to come.

As for the game’s outcome, it’s tough to pick. There’s a lot of things the Bengals do well. Their offense is absolutely electric. They have a lethal wide receiver trio in Chase, Tyler Boyd, and Tee Higgins who are always there to make play happen. Running back Joe Mixon is a threat both on the ground and as a pass catcher, and we all know Burrow can ball. On the other side of the ball, defensive end Trey Hendrickson and the rest of the Bengals defensive line is going to do everything they can to put pressure on Stafford. Hopefully in doing so, they’ll force the Rams quarterback to make some rushed decisions and maybe even force a couple of turnovers. My heart wants Joe Burrow to bring a trophy back to his home state of Ohio. It really does.
But my brain tells me there’s no way the Rams can lose. I just don’t think an incredibly mediocre Bengals offensive line can possibly stop the L.A. pass rush, and that’s a large enough edge in this game. Aaron Donald, Rams defensive tackle and arguably the most dominant player in the NFL, is going to go for an absurd amount of sacks. Rams head coach Sean McVay is going to do everything in his power to get the ball in his playmakers hands, expect Kupp and Beckham to line up all over the place and be huge focal points of the offense. Ramsey and the rest of the secondary should look to take away the deep ball and stick close to Ja’Marr Chase’s side. The only way I could really see a Bengals win is if they force a key turnover, or someone like receiver Tyler Boyd comes up big.
Most of all I’m rooting for a close game that’s high scoring and entertaining, and maybe a couple good commercials. Final prediction, Rams 28 Bengals 20 and for the Gatorade poured over the winning coach to be Lemon-Lime.