Experience seems to give an edge in nearly everything, and certainly has been a major advantage in past Super Bowls.
Here are the numbers. The first four Super Bowls to involve a team making their first trip to the big game against a franchise who had not participated in a past Super Bowl was won by the team with experience. It wasn’t until the 1974 season that a team making their first Super Bowl appearance beat an opponent with experience in the game. That was the Pittsburgh Steelers, who downed the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IX.
There have been 21 Super Bowl games where one franchise is making their first appearance in the game against an opponent with experience in the contest. Fifteen times the experienced team has won the game.
Both the franchises in action in Super Bowl LVI have been here before. The Rams are making their fifth appearance and the Bengals have advanced to the Super Bowl three times. The only Rams win in their five trips was when they downed the Tennessee Titans to complete the 1999 season while their franchise was stationed in St. Louis. The St. Louis Rams also played in Super Bowl XXXVI, which was the first of Tom Brady’s seven Super Bowl wins.
The Bengals appeared in two Super Bowls during the 1980s. Cincinnati lost to the San Francisco 49ers in their two previous attempts to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy, 21-16 to complete the 1981 season and 20-16 seven years later.
While neither the Rams nor Bengals get an edge by meeting a team making their first Super Bowl appearance, the rosters of these two teams weigh dramatically in the Rams favor on players with experience. Twelve players remain on the Rams roster that last participated in a Super Bowl, that would be three years ago when Los Angeles met the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. It is worth noting that in that game, where the Patriots roster was stacked with 38 players with Super Bowl experience and the Rams only four, the Patriots experience prevailed in the lowest scoring Super Bowl in history, 13-3.
While a dozen current Rams were on the Los Angeles roster in 2018, Los Angeles has also added some Super Bowl experience through trades with most notably adding two players who have had success in Super Bowls.
Von Miller, who the Rams acquired from the Denver Broncos midseason, was named Most Valuable Player when he led his Denver Broncos to a win in Super Bowl 50 over the Carolina Panthers. The Rams sent a pair of late draft picks to the New England Patriots in August to add Sony Michel to their offensive backfield. Michel scored the only touchdown in the Patriots Super Bowl victory over the Rams three years ago.
The Bengals have only one player on their roster who has played in a Super Bowl, that is defensive back Ricardo Allen. He was a member of the Atlanta Falcons when they were rundown and lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI, 34-28, in the only Super Bowl overtime game.
Yes, experience is a factor, and one that has favored both the team that has played in the game before and has more athletes on their roster with Super Bowl experience. The last time the Rams were in this game, against the Patriots three years ago, the experience factor favored New England and they went on to win the game.
This time, against the Bengals, the experience edge goes to the Rams.