The contenders for Super Bowl LVI are confirmed, and it’s far from what many would have expected prior to when the play-offs started last month, as the Cincinnati Bengals are set to go head-to-head with the Los Angeles Rams at the SoFi Stadium in LA on February 13th — marking back-to-back years of a franchise competing on their home field after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers broke the mould last year.
The likes of the Bucs, who were the defending champions, the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs were far more fancied in the Super Bowl winner odds, but instead we have a final matchup that nobody could have predicted even a week or two into the post-season — not that we’re complaining as it’s nice to see different teams competing for the sought-after Vince Lombardi trophy each year.
Of course, the influential players that spurred the Bengals and the Rams onto those surprise victories over the Bucs, the Chiefs and even the Tennessee Titans are now favoured to be crowned the Super Bowl MVP, with the winning quarter-back likely to take home the prestigious award, as usual. That said, read on as we take a look at how the MVP market is shaping up ahead of the Super Bowl next weekend.
Matthew Stafford – Rams
With the Rams the heavy favourites to win their first Super Bowl since 1999, it is no surprise that their quarter-back, Matthew Stafford, is being tipped to be crowned Super Bowl MVP and join the prestigious list of winners. The 33-year-old reached the post-season with the Detroit Lions three times during his lengthy stint at Ford Field, but failed to pick up a win on any of those occasions. His first time in the play-offs with the Rams, Stafford has been in fine fettle — throwing two touchdowns in each of the LA franchise’s victories over the Arizona Cardinals, the Bucs and the San Francisco 49ers, while breaking the 300-yard barrier against the latter two with 366yds and 337yds, respectively.
Joe Burrow – Bengals
Not many quarter-backs go up against the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes at Arrowhead Stadium and come out on top, but Joe Burrow did just that in the AFC Championship game. The 25-year-old threw 250 passing yards for two touchdowns as the Bengals upset all the odds to not only come back from 21-10 at half-time in Kansas, but win in overtime after the hosts had won the toss! Burrow also had a fantastic game in the narrow victory over the Titans, passing 348 yards, while he threw 244yds for two TDs against the Las Vegas Raiders in the Wild Card Weekend. The Bengals will need another upset to beat the Rams on home soil, but don’t rule Burrow and Cincinnati out — anything can happen on Super Bowl Sunday!
Cooper Kupp – Rams
Due to the manner in which the voting system works for the Super Bowl MVP, with the journalists making their decision with the game still in-play, it’s hard to imagine either Stafford or Burrow not being crowned the winner, but if there’s one man who can turn their heads — it’s Cooper Kupp. The 28-year-old receiver has had an incredible season. After narrowly missing out on a record-breaking 2,000 receiving yards in the regular season, the WR set a new NFL best in the play-offs — taking his season tally to 2,333yrds after some huge plays against the Cardinals (5REC, 61yds), the Bucs (9REC, 183yds) and the 49ers (11REC, 142yds). Kupp is in inspiring form after those play-off performances, so the Bengals defence is going to have their work cut.