Wide receiver Brandin Cooks is one of several key players the Rams acquired via trades this season. (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Once again in the AFC, Tom Brady would not allow the torch to be passed. His 37-31 overtime win over Patrick Mahomes and a fatigued Kansas City Chiefs defense allowed the New England Patriots to go to their ninth Super Bowl with Brady and Coach Bill Belichick.

The NFC championship game was just as compelling, as the Rams advanced to the Super Bowl with a 26-23 overtime victory, and the Saints were robbed by the officials on the missed pass interference call on Nickell Robey-Coleman.

The victories set up a very compelling Super Bowl matchup that in many ways will be painted as young (Rams quarterback Jared Goff and Coach Sean McVay) versus old (Brady and Belichick). But there are also many similarities between the two teams, and while some reasons for their success are obvious — Brady and Belichick are all-time greats, while McVay is considered perhaps the brightest young mind in the game — others are a little more hidden. As the NFL’s other 30 teams make their offseason changes, they would be wise to learn these lessons from the Super Bowl participants.

Lesson 1: Don’t shy away from making trades

Over the past several years, the Patriots have been one of the most aggressive teams in the league as it pertains to making trades. Knowing the difficulty of getting rookies to play at a championship level, Belichick has mastered the strategy of trading for players in the third and fourth years of their rookie contracts.

The Patriots traded for left tackle Trent Brown, Cordarrelle Patterson, Danny Shelton and Jason McCourty this offseason. Last offseason, Belichick traded for wide receiver Brandin Cooks, before dealing him to the Rams this April.

Part of the Rams’ championship blueprint has been built through the trades of General Manager Les Snead, who dealt for cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib along with Cooks this offseason. He didn’t stop there, acquiring edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. from Jacksonville at the trade deadline. All have played pivotal roles this season, with Fowler making the hit on Brees that forced the overtime interception that set up Greg Zuerlein’s game-winning field goal.

Lesson 2: Place a high value on offensive line play, and coaching

According to Pro Football Focus, the four conference finalists ranked among the top 11 for offensive line play, with the Patriots ranking third and the Rams seventh.

Los Angeles rebuilt its line with the additions last offseason of left tackle Andrew Whitworth and center John Sullivan — the two positions that most GMs around the league will tell you are the most important on any line. O-line coach Aaron Kromer is a valuable asset, as he picked up on how the Dallas Cowboys were tipping off their stunts and blitzes by the way they lined up before the snap in last week’s divisional-round matchup.

The Patriots may not have any big names along their line, but offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia is one of the all-time best. His aggressive blocking scheme against the Los Angeles Chargers played a big role in that victory, and the work of Brown at left tackle since coming over in a trade with the 49ers has been impressive. New England lost Nate Solder in free agency, and then first-round pick Isaiah Wynn to injury before the season began, and still found a way to build a very effective wall for Brady and the running game.

Lesson 3: In an offense-heavy game, the teams with the best play callers rose to the top

Clearly, NFL teams are aware of the success of McVay, who has been held up as the modern prototype for the role. But it’s still worth noting that each of the four conference finalists had a play caller considered one of the best in the game: McVay, Payton, Andy Reid and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

The league’s rule changes gave the offense a decided advantage, and the four highest-scoring teams in the league wound up playing for Super Bowl appearances on Sunday. With that unlikely to change next season, any team with a serious shot at contending is going to need to put a high-scoring offense on the field. All four of the conference finalists had a 4,000-yard passer, with the exception of Brees, who came up eight yards short after resting the team’s season finale.

Lesson 4: Go for it on fourth down

Interestingly, McVay went against his usual formula by opting for a chip-shot field goal to tie the NFC title game at 20-20 in the fourth quarter Sunday, instead of going for the touchdown and the lead. It all ended up working out, but had the Saints gone on to win in regulation, that would have been a heavily scrutinized decision.

Still, the Rams and Patriots (in addition to the Saints and Chiefs) deserve credit for embracing the analytics movement and being aggressive in going for it on fourth down. The four teams were a combined 38 of 60 on fourth-down attempts, converting 63.3 percent — well above the league average of 55.7 percent. The Rams essentially iced their win over Dallas in the divisional round with McVay’s decision to go for it on fourth and goal. The Chiefs did make a critical fourth-and-1 stop of New England in Sunday’s game, but generally speaking, fortune has favored the teams willing to go for it on fourth down this season.

Lesson 5: A strong running game still matters

The Rams and Patriots both ranked in the top five of the NFL in rushing yards per game this season. Their ground success was readily apparent in both teams’ divisional-round wins, and while the Saints largely bottled up the Rams on the ground Sunday, the Patriots put up 176 rushing yards and four touchdowns against Kansas City, with the running game proving pivotal in building a 14-0 first-half lead.

For L.A., the running game — usually led by Todd Gurley, who was limited in Sunday’s win — is also a huge factor in setting up the play-action pass, including through the use of jet sweeps and other motion that McVay has become known for as a play caller. The Patriots also ask a lot of their running backs in the passing game, with McDaniels finding creative ways to get them the ball out of the backfield.

Even though this was an NFL season defined by big plays in the passing game, teams that can win on the ground set themselves up for success.

Buzz from around the NFL

--The 2019 draft class of quarterbacks is starting to remind me of 2011, and that’s a little scary. I can see Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Missouri’s Drew Lock and Duke’s Daniel Jones all going in the top 10, given the demand among teams such as the Giants, Jaguars and Broncos.

But most scouts around the league don’t believe this group is nearly as good as the 2018 class, which produced four top-10 picks and a fifth first-rounder. In 2011, Cam Newton went No. 1 overall and was followed by three top-12 picks who all were considered imperfect prospects and ultimately flamed out: Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder.

--The Lions hired former Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to the same position largely because he’s willing to run the ball. Coach Matt Patricia let Jim Bob Cooter go after a season in which Patricia thought they didn’t run often enough. From 2012 to 2015, Bevell called 500 or more rushing plays with Marshawn Lynch in the backfield.

Speaking of Lynch, the veteran running back says he wants to play another season. Given the success of Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson into their 30s, teams should consider taking a chance on him.

--If you think there are too many head-coaching changes, just look at how bad the turnover is at offensive coordinator. The firing of Scott Linehan in Dallas leaves Josh McDaniels of the Patriots, Pete Carmichael of the Saints and Ken Whisenhunt of the Chargers as the only offensive coordinators who have held that title with the same team for more than two years. Payton is the Saints’ play caller, however.

Jason Garrett is considering taking back the offensive play-calling responsibilities for the Cowboys. If Zac Taylor is hired by Cincinnati, there will be 20 offensive head coaches in the NFL, roughly 16 of whom call their own plays.

--Speaking of Taylor, it would make sense for him to hire an experienced defensive coordinator, such as Jack Del Rio. The model to follow here is, again, the Rams, as McVay targeted Wade Phillips as a defensive coordinator, valuing his previous head-coaching experience.

--The Jaguars should be considered one of the favorites to acquire Nick Foles this offseason, particularly since the hire of former Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. The question is whether Jacksonville would sign Foles to a long-term deal or view him as a stopgap and still draft a quarterback to develop in the first round.

More NFL coverage:

Rams’ Nickell Robey-Coleman’s pass interference was also a brilliant improvisation

The legend of Tony Romo grows with his AFC championship game performance

Rams beat Saints to advance to Super Bowl, after a big comeback and a controversial call

The Patriots won in OT and Patrick Mahomes never got the ball. Should the NFL change its rules?

NFL will consider making pass interference calls reviewable, after Rams-Saints gaffe