The Super Bowl, set for Feb. 13 near Los Angeles, will feature two quarterbacks who were No. 1 draft picks, Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford of the Rams.
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.
The evolution at the N.F.L.’s most important position has been clear even with familiar names frequently making deep playoff runs. Today’s emerging stars are taking on more of their team’s offensive load.
Jimmy Garoppolo screened his way back to a conference championship, the Bengals’ defensive front outshone its stars, and only Kansas City benefited from home-field advantage.
Rodgers, though likely to win his second straight M.V.P. award, now must contemplate his future with the Green Bay Packers much sooner than he had hoped.
Both teams assured of playoff berths, the Philadelphia Eagles rested their starters while the Dallas Cowboys set records with theirs.
Division rivalries should decide playoff seeding as the Eagles host the Cowboys, the 49ers try to extend their win streak to six against the Rams, and the Chargers and Raiders play the weekend’s only true elimination game.
The N.F.L.’s final-week schedule usually builds to a Sunday night crescendo. But with only one true elimination game, Week 18’s bloat should feel anticlimactic.
In the N.F.C., Green Bay has clinched the bye, but a divisional race and a wild-card spot are still up for grabs. In the A.F.C., things are messier.
Thanks to the New England Patriots’ six-game win streak and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ light schedule, the pair seem to be on a collision course.
Cam Newton and the Panthers can muck up the N.F.C. South, and Patrick Mahomes will try to prove Kansas City’s troubles are over.
The gulf between the two conferences will show when Kansas City and the Las Vegas Raiders vie in the jammed A.F.C. West, and the Cleveland Browns try to derail the Patriots, while the Rams roll.
Tampa Bay returns much of its Super Bowl-winning roster, but Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams have Jordan-and-Pippen-style title dreams for Green Bay.
The Giants are riding a three-game win streak and seem banded behind first-year Coach Joe Judge. In a shaky division, that just might be enough to put them in the playoffs.