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NFL Insider & Sideline Reporter
Many years have passed since the Bills and Dolphins were both major players in the AFC. As of this week, it does appear as though both are headed to the playoffs. It would make the first time since (can we find the year) that both the Dolphins and Bills made the tournament with one of them being a division winner. And though the Dolphins have now lost two games in a row, it does feel like this rivalry is sorta, kinda, back from the dead.
The way the pendulum has swung is actually amazing. Do you know that the Dolphins were 20-0 against the Bills in the 1970s? Miami didn’t lose a single contest to Buffalo for an entire decade! In the ‘80s, things were back and forth, and then when the ‘90s came, it was basically all Buffalo. In fact, the Bills were 17-4 against MIami from the first day Marv Levy took over as head coach in 1987 and the last day Don Shula coached a game in 1995. That stretch included three playoff victories, including an AFC Championship Game played in Joe Robbie Stadium in January of 1993. Dan Marino couldn’t get past the Bills during that era, but he would get past them in the late ‘90s, when Miami beat Buffalo in a playoff game — their only win over the Bills in the postseason — and Jimmy Johnson stomped on a box of Flutie Flake’s afterwards.
From Brian Cox to Bruce Smith to Marv Levy to Don Shula, the history is real. Everyone’s assuming Miami will be overmatched in Saturday’s battle in the elements under the lights, but Miami’s fighting for their playoff lives. I’ll be on the sidelines and am most curious to see what HC Mike McDaniel has to say to his team in the days leading up to this showdown. The two franchises don’t have any fondness for each other. Let’s see if they can add another chapter to their rich, storied tradition.
Some Jared Goff appreciation
Can I take a moment to say how much I appreciate and respect Jared Goff? A lesser man may have crumbled or disappeared in a hole of self-doubt and pity after the past 18 months Goff has endured. He was traded for 60 cents on the dollar to the Lions, an add-in on a trade that also included two first round picks and a third-round pick for Matthew Stafford. One season into the deal, the Rams looked to have fleeced the Lions, hoisting a Lombardi Trophy with Stafford under center as Goff struggled on a young, inexperienced Lions team that had the second worst record in the NFL.
After a 1-6 start this season, it seemed like that would be that for Goff in the Motor City. Detroit would likely draft a QB, move on from Goff, and he’d likely battle for a QB1 job somewhere in training camp next year. Then, something happened on the way to the offseason: the Lions started winning. And Goff started dealing. And as the Rams continued to lose, Detroit’s offense reached greater and greater heights.
Detroit heads to New Jersey to play the Jets this weekend and Goff is eighth in the NFL in passing yards, fifth in passing touchdowns and behind Jalen Hurts, I’d argue he has been the second-best QB in the entire NFC this season. What I love most about Goff is that he never moaned, never complained, never had a sitdown where he lashed out at the Rams or responded to his critics or detractors. He just went about his business and played football. Now, as we enter Week 15, with Detroit one of the hottest teams in football, I think it’s assumed that Goff will be back next season and the Lions roster looks to be in better shape long-term than the one he left behind in Los Angeles. Would the Rams make that trade over again? 10 out of 10 times. But I think Detroit might say the same thing. Jared Goff is all class. I’m happy for him.
Miles Sanders‘ career year
Lost in all the Jalen Hurts MVP chatter and love for the Eagles receivers and offensive line this season has been a career year from running back Miles Sanders. Sanders was incredible on Sunday against the Giants, rushing for 144 yards and two touchdowns, eclipsing 1,000 yards rushing on the year and channeling some Adam Sandler along the way. In a video released by the Eagles after their blowout win, Sanders was mic’d up and talking to Hurts about getting the chance to lay a big block. Sanders said he would yell like Bobby Boucher, the main character played by Sandler in The Waterboy, before flattening an opponent.
Sanders eventually got his chance. On one play, Sanders let out a Boucher-like yelp as he thumped Giants outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari, and he was fired up about it after the whistle.” He did just that, and it was awesome. When Adam Sandler saw it, he tweeted at Sanders, “Love you buddy”. Sanders gave love back.
Don’t tell me social media is evil. That’s beautiful.
Jordan Mailata on Eagles-Cowboys rivalry: Parsons “should worry” about Cowboys
Joy Taylor contends Micah Parsons’ comments regarding Jalen Hurts are false after he appeared on the VonCast and said the team and system are mainly responsible for Hurts’ success this season.
I spoke to Sanders’ position coach Jemal Singleton on my podcast The Season with Peter Schrager this week, and Coach Singleton said Sanders showed up this off-season ready to take his game to a different level. He’s done just that. Through just 13 games, Sanders has rushed for 1,068 yards and 11 touchdowns while catching 18 passes for 85 yards. A free agent after this season, Sanders isn’t looking to talk about his future. He’s focused on gobbling up yards, swallowing up defenders in the passing game and screaming like “The Waterboy”. The Eagles play Chicago this weekend; expect plenty more Sanders this weekend.
Reason for concern in Big D?
The Cowboys won in heroic fashion last week, driving 98 yards in the final minutes to beat the Texans 27-24. Tony Pollard played great and Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup made big plays when it mattered most. But something was a little off, and that something was the usually stout Dallas defense. Against an overmatched Texans offensive line and a combo platter of Davis Mills and Jeff Driscoll, the Cowboys had zero sacks against the Texans in Week 14. It’s the first time the Cowboys had zero sacks in a game this season. This is particularly odd considering Dallas leads the NFL with 48 sacks and had at least two sacks in every other game this season. Micah Parsons was particularly quiet. The guy everyone has crowned as the DPOY already didn’t have a sack, QB hit or tackle for loss Sunday and only pressured the Texans once. It was his worst game as a pro.
Are Cowboys legitimate Super Bowl contenders this season?
The Dallas Cowboys are on a four-game win streak and have reached two consecutive 10-win seasons for the first time since 1995 and 1996. David Helman discusses how different this year’s Cowboys squad is compared to previous playoff contenders.
I’ve asked everyone I can here at FOX, and I don’t have any idea when the last time is a Fox A crew called a game in Jacksonville that actually involved the Jaguars (last year’s Saints-Packers Week 1 matchup and the Super Bowl don’t count), but here we are. Greg Olsen, Kevin Burkhardt and Erin Andrews are on the call and the Cowboys defense has a surprisingly hot Jaguars offense lining up across from them. This will be a test. And a good opportunity to prove to everyone — on national TV — that last week was just a fluke.
A lingering White Lotus question
I loved “White Lotus” Season 2 so much, but something just isn’t sitting well with me.
Does Greg actually get the money?
Ugh. Sorry. I hate that. Can we bring him back for Season 3, then? Just to assure us that’s not how that whole storyline plays out?
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Peter Schrager is an NFL writer for FOX Sports and a host of “Good Morning Football” on NFL Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @PSchrags.
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