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Ranking the best Rams and Bengals players in Super Bowl 2022: Top 53 and where Aaron Donald, Joe Burrow, Matthew Stafford land

Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) celebrates in the fourth quarter during the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

As a part of our partnership with ESPN, this is a part of a story that was originally published on ESPN+ and can be viewed in its entirety here with your ESPN+ subscription — Ranking the best Rams and Bengals players in Super Bowl 2022: Top 53 and where Aaron Donald, Joe Burrow, Matthew Stafford land

The Los Angeles Rams are set to play the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl 56 on Sunday at SoFi Stadium, aiming to become the second team in as many years to win a home Super Bowl while vindicating their much-scrutinized team-building approach. The Bengals are appearing in their first Super Bowl since the late 1980s with a new feeling of hope thanks to the incredible play of Joe Burrow at quarterback and Ja'Marr Chase at receiver.

As we've done the previous few years, Pro Football Focus ranked all 44 projected Super Bowl starters along with nine rotational players whom we expect to play key roles. The order is heavily influenced by 2021 PFF grades and positional ranks — which are included for each player — but it isn't solely based on that one data point, as the rankings also factor in past play and the role each player is asked to execute. We're including the grades for all 53 players along with their overall rankings for their positions.

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1. DT Aaron Donald, Rams

Grade: 93.5 | Position rank: 1

The two quarterbacks are slightly more valuable based on the position they play, but there's no reason to pretend any player on the football field is better than Donald. He is the best player on the field every time he lines up and was again the best defensive player in football this season. He led all defensive interior players with an incredible 23% pass rush win rate.

2. QB Joe Burrow, Bengals

Grade: 92.3 | Position rank: 1

Including the playoffs, Burrow has now surpassed Tom Brady for highest PFF grade by a quarterback this season. With how porous the Bengals' offensive line is right now, Burrow is the most important singular figure in a Super Bowl in a long time, but he has the tools to get the job done. He'll have to take care of the football, but he was fourth in the league this season with just a 2.3% turnover-worthy play rate.

3. WR Cooper Kupp, Rams

Grade: 92.8 | Position rank: 1

Just barely edging out Packers super receiver Davante Adams by .1 points to sit at the summit of the receiver rankings, Kupp is a complete receiver. On any route that breaks hard — slants, outs, in-routes — he is the best receiver in the league. He finds separation at the breakpoint of his route unlike any other player. His 3.05 yards per route run this year was tops in the league.

4. CB Jalen Ramsey, Rams

Grade: 85.2 | Position rank: 1

The best cornerback in the league will be tasked with guarding Ja'Marr Chase. The Rams will have to decide whether to shadow Chase with Ramsey — for entertainment's sake, let's hope this is the game plan — or keep a safety over Chase and have Ramsey match up on Tee Higgins. Either way, wherever Ramsey goes, great cornerback play follows. Ramsey has forced 19 incompletions on throws at him, second highest in the league.

5. QB Matthew Stafford, Rams

Grade: 85.1 | Position rank: 7

Stafford has the benefit of playing with a team of all-stars, but make no mistake: He's the one pulling all the strings. However, the difference between Stafford and Burrow is that an average Stafford performance in the biggest game of the year means the Rams can still find a way to win, while an average Burrow performance might spell doom for the Bengals. Stafford finished sixth in the league with a big-time throw rate of 5.8%.

6. WR Ja'Marr Chase, Bengals

Grade: 84.5 | Position rank: 7

Just like at the quarterback position, one could argue that Chase is more important as a singular player in this game than his Rams counterpart. The rookie has been one of the best players in the league this season on the vertical route tree. Back-shoulder sideline catches and “9” routes have become the norm, and the Bengals will need all that juice if they are going to win. Chase also finished third in total yards after the catch this season with 791.

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