Picking the most important players for Cincinnati in Super Bowl LVI is a little more challenging than the star-dominated Los Angeles Rams. The Bengals have won with a team approach on defense and an offense driven by Joe Burrow and his skill players, and that formula will likely be key again if the want to win it all.
This is a no-brainer. The second-year signal caller threw for 4,611 yards and 34 touchdown passes while cutting out interceptions late in the season and finishing with 14. He had the second-highest QB rating in the league, but his value goes beyond numbers. His confidence has permeated the whole team, and his ability to find the open man and get him the ball even against heavy pressure makes the offense go.
The rookie receiver has defied even high expectations, leading the AFC in receiving yards and turning in explosive play after explosive play. Typically he forces opponents to skew their defensive plans toward him, which opens up opportunities for other players. The Chiefs kept Chase under wraps for the most part, but he still managed to catch a touchdown pass.
Much more than a running back, Mixon is a weapon and an insurance policy for the Bengals. He finished third in the NFL in rushing with 1,205 yards and eighth in yards from scrimmage with 1,519. He can serve as a safety valve as a receiver for Burrow, and getting him going on the ground can shorten the game and limit how many times the quarterback is exposed to hits.
The Bengals left tackle is also their only regular offensive lineman to post a decent pass blocking grade at Pro Football Focus, and they need him to play like a first-round draft pick against a Rams team that has multiple dangerous pass rushers inside and out. If he can hold up on one side, that at least lets them devote more resources toward interior star Aaron Donald and helping right tackle Isaiah Prince on the other side.
The defensive end has been a home run free-agent signing, finishing fifth in the league with 14 sacks. His ability to get after the quarterback can stop a drive or at least make life easier for a secondary that has had ups and downs. The Rams have an elite pass protection group, so Henderson will need to be at his best.
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