Super Bowl LVI between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in Southern California is slated to kick off Sunday afternoon.
The quarterbacks will be under a microscope as each one makes his first appearance in the big game. For Bengals signal caller Joe Burrow, it comes after just two seasons in the league. Matthew Stafford of the Los Angeles Rams is a different monster, having played 12 years for a bad Detroit Lions squad before making his way to Southern California.
Below, we include these two signal callers in ranking the top-10 players set to take the field in Super Bowl LVI Sunday afternoon.
10. Jessie Bates, safety, Cincinnati Bengals
- Jessie Bates stats: 88 tackles (67 solo), four passes defended, one interception
A second-team All-Pro performer back in 2020, Bates saw a downtick in production this past regular season. He intercepted just one pass after accumulating three in each of his first three NFL seasons. That might not bode well for his free-agent market.
However, Bates is one of the primary reasons Cincinnati finds itself in Super Bowl LVI. He played a huge role in Vonn Bell’s interception of Patrick Mahomes in overtime of the AFC Championship Game. If Bates had not got his hands on that pass, there’s no telling whether the Bengals would be here.
9. Odell Beckham Jr., wide receiver, Los Angeles Rams
- Odell Beckham Jr. stats: 44 receptions, 537 yards, five touchdowns, 54% catch rate
OBJ’s regular-season stats left a lot to be desired. He was not anywhere near as productive as we saw when he was a member of the New York Giants earlier in his career. Signed by the Rams after being an in-season release of the Cleveland Browns, the multi-time Pro Bowler has picked it up recently.
Beckham Jr. caught 19-of-23 targets for 236 yards and a touchdown in three playoff games leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl. He’s finding a nice rhythm with Matthew Stafford and seems to have matured since his time with the Giants and Browns.
8. Trey Hendrickson, EDGE, Cincinnati Bengals
- Trey Hendrickson stats: 34 tackles, 12 for loss, 27 quarterback hits, 14 sacks, three forced fumbles
Signed last offseason to replace free-agent departure Carl Lawson, Hendrickson actually performed better than his counterpart en route to earning a first ever Pro Bowl appearance. Hendrickson, 27, dominated to the tune of 14 sacks. That included 11.5 sacks in his final 11 regular-season games.
Hendrickson also came on strong in the playoffs, helping Cincinnati to Super Bowl LVI in the process. He recorded two quarterback hits and 1.5 sacks of Patrick Mahomes in the AFC Championship Game. A similar performance against Matthew Stafford and Co. on Sunday could lead to Cincinnati shocking the world.
7. Joe Mixon, running back, Cincinnati Bengals
- Joe Mixon stats: 292 attempts, 1,205 rushing yards, 42 receptions, 314 yards, 16 total TD
Mixon has been among the most-productive running backs since entering the NFL as a second-round pick of the Bengals back in 2017. This past regular season was no different with the Oklahoma product tallying a career-high 1,519 yards while scoring a ridicuous 16 touchdowns.
Mixon’s importance in the passing game also can’t go unnoticed. He caught an absurd 88% of his targets during the regular season. With that said, Mixon was also held to a mere 190 rushing yards in Cincinnati’s three playoff games leading up to Super Bowl LVI. He’ll need to produce at a higher level against a stout Rams defensive line if the Bengals are going to pull off an upset win at SoFi Stadium.
Related: Super Bowl LVI positional breakdown
6. Matthew Stafford, quarterback, Los Angeles Rams
- Matthew Stafford stats: 67% completion, 4,886 yards, 41 TD, 17 INT, 102.9 rating
An argument can be made that Stafford had the best performance of his career in the quarterback’s first regular season with the Rams. With that said, he also led the NFL with 17 interceptions. That included a whopping seven picks over the final three games.
That’s the issue for Stafford heading into Sunday’s big game. In fact, he almost threw away the NFC Championship Game against San Francisco with a near-pick that 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt flat out dropped. Stafford won’t be as lucky if he throws up prayers against a solid safety tandem in the aforementioned Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell.
5. Joe Burrow, quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals
- Joe Burrow stats: 70.4% completion, 4,611 yards, 34 TD, 14 INT, 108.3 rating
How good was Burrow in the three playoff games leading up to Super Bowl LVI? He outplayed “more accomplished” quarterbacks in that of Derek Carr, Ryan Tannehill and former NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes. In total, the former Heisman winner and No. 1 pick threw for 842 yards with four touchdowns against two interecptions in those three games.
This followed the end of a regular season that saw Burrow throw for nearly 1,000 yards with eight touchdowns and zero interceptions in his final two starts. Joey Franchise is on an absolute roll, and will have to continue this in Super Bowl LVI if the Bengals are to come out on top.
4. Ja’Marr Chase, wide receiver, Cincinnati Bengals
Ja’Marr Chase stats: 81 receptions, 1,455 yards, 13 TD, 63.3% catch rate
Speaking of record-breaking performances, Chase had many of those during an absolutely brilliant rookie season. Catching passes from his former LSU teammate, the first-round pick put up 11 receptions for 266 yards and three touchdowns during a Week 17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
This represented a precursor of what was to come for the 21 year old. In three playoff games leading up to Sunday’s championship tilt, Chase tallied 20 catches on 27 targets for 279 yards. He’ll now be tasked with taking on Jalen Ramsey in what should be an epic Super Bowl LVI matchup.
3. Jalen Ramsey, cornerback, Los Angeles Rams
- Jalen Ramsey stats: 62 tackles (15 solo), 16 passes defended, four interceptions
Ramsey gave up a mere 59.2% catch rate and 71.1 quarterback rating when targeted during the regular season. Opposing wide receivers averaged 6.4 yards per target against him. This is just the latest example of continued brilliance on the part of the boisterous corner.
Ramsey, 27, will also have to bring his A-game if the Rams are going to fend off a potent Bengals passing attack. While we expect Cincinnati to move Chase around some to avoid Ramsey, the two will go up against one another a lot come game day. That’s for sure.
2. Cooper Kupp, wide receiver, Los Angeles Rams
Cooper Kupp stats: 145 receptions, 1,947 yards, 16 TD, 76% catch rate
Historic. That’s the best way to describe what we saw from the underrated Kupp during an otherworldly regular-season performance. The Eastern Washington product led the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He also caught a resounding 76% of the passes thrown in his direction from Matthew Stafford.
Kupp, 28, followed that up by recording 25 receptions for 386 yards in three playoff games leading up to Super Bowl LVI. This included catching 11-of-14 targets for 142 yards and two touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. That’s just all sorts of insane.
1. Aaron Donald, defensive tackle, Los Angeles Rams
Aaron Donald stats: 84 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, four forced fumbles
A three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Donald did not start out this season too hot. In fact, the 30-year-old defensive tackle recorded just 3.5 sacks in his first seven games. It’s been vintage Aaron Donald ever since with the eight-time Pro Bowler having registered 14 sacks over the past 13 games.
What makes Donald so darn elite is his ability to get to the quarterback on a consistent basis without even putting up the sack numbers. The former Pittsburgh Panthers star has registered 118 quarterback hits in his past 65 regular-season games. Will this duplicate itself against Joey Franchise and the Bengals come Sunday?