For Super Bowl LVI, Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt is deserving of MVP consideration based on his performance throughout the postseason.
When names are discussed as potential Super Bowl MVPs, linebackers are usually not at the forefront of the conversation. Before this idea goes any further it is important to mention that the only two linebackers who have won the Super Bowl MVP in the last 20 years are Malcolm Smith in 2014 and Von Miller in 2016. It is not entirely improbable for a linebacker to win again, but quarterbacks and wide receivers have won the award 85% of the time since 2002.
The Bengals have a strong defensive group led by defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo. In 2019, Anarumo joined the Bengals’ coaching staff and he developed a stable group of defensive players. One of those players who came in the same year as Anarumo was Pratt. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Bengals selected Pratt in the third round out of North Carolina State.
Through three seasons with the Bengals, Pratt has played in 47 games, making 39 starts. Pratt started all 15 games he played in this season. In the regular season, Pratt had 91 total tackles. Through three playoff games, Pratt has 21 total tackles with 15 being solo tackles.
— Cory Smith (@RCorySmith) January 16, 2022
The biggest moment of his career happened with 17 seconds left in the wild card game against the Las Vegas Raiders on a 4th & goal defensive stand. Pratt intercepted Derek Carr in front of the goal line and clinched the Bengals’ first playoff win in over 30 years. Carr threw the ball toward the lip of the end zone in traffic and Pratt read the throw and cut it off.
Pratt has the ability to make an important play that can change the outcome of the game. Two weeks after his game-sealing interception, Pratt had eight tackles against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. He can alter a game with his speed by cutting off holes in the running game. Not only can he defend the run, but he can shut down passing opportunities as he did against the Raiders.
The Rams use the passing game to their advantage and Pratt can help out the secondary by managing throws underneath. In the red zone, Pratt can use his playmaking skills to disrupt potential scoring plays.
If the Rams do not account for Pratt, he can impact this game in a similar way that Smith did in Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos. Smith received the MVP award because of his pick six in the second quarter. Do not be surprised if Pratt has a big play that clinches the win for the Bengals. Other names will be thrown around in the conversation, but Pratt’s name belongs in the mix for potential Super Bowl MVP candidates.