Bartering draft capital to acquire Matthew Stafford and other stars, the Rams traded their future for a shot at a championship. Sunday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals validated the risk.
Los Angeles’s high-profile roster additions provided sparks, but the homegrown talents Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp provided crucial plays to win the N.F.C. championship.
The N.F.C. West rivals meet for the third time this season with a Super Bowl berth on the line. Sean McVay will try to end the 49ers’ six-game win streak over his Rams by relying on a talented roster.
Bound by strict uniform rules, players like Odell Beckham Jr. and Deebo Samuel are honoring peers with customized T-shirts worn in pregame warm-ups and underneath their jerseys.
The upstart Bengals head to daunting Arrowhead Stadium to face Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, and the Rams’ all-in plan to make the Super Bowl runs into a 49ers team that has won six straight meetings.
Green Bay and Tennessee will have the benefit of a week’s rest against San Francisco and Cincinnati. Buffalo and Kansas City will provide tougher tests for each other after coasting last week. The Bucs and the Rams’ veteran quarterbacks will take center stage.
Matthew Stafford and Odell Beckham Jr., prolific stars with little postseason notoriety, propelled the Rams to a wild-card round victory over the Cardinals on Monday.
Burrow-to-Chase can do damage in the playoffs, and Tom Brady and the Buccaneers aren’t exactly where they want to be at this point in the season.
Beckham will join the Rams after a rocky tenure with the Cleveland Browns, who released him last week.
As tempting as it is to blame parity, there are other causes for the underdog wins that have shaped the 2021 regular season.
The Saints’ defense stepped up when Jameis Winston went down, Josh Allen shook off an uncharacteristically sloppy start, and wide receivers around the league auditioned for Tuesday’s trade deadline.
Dak Prescott vs. the Bucs’ pass rush, dueling Alabama quarterbacks and a rematch of January’s Browns-Chiefs playoff game make for a compelling start to the regular season.
Cleveland’s results may not have followed the analytics strategist Paul DePodesta’s initial vision, but a 4-1 record is math anyone can do.
The red-hot Browns and Steelers will resume a fierce rivalry. The Chiefs and Bills will try to get back on track. And the Packers will try to pick up where they left off before their bye week.
Odell Beckham Jr. ran right past the Cowboys, Joe Burrow got his first career win and Tom Brady turned back the clock.