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NFL Week 14 schedule: Derrick Gunn's 5 games to watch

NFL Week 14 schedule: Derrick Gunn's 5 games to watch

Here are Derrick Gunn's five matchups to watch for Week 14 of the NFL season.

Everybody in Dallas wants Jason Garrett fired. In Chicago it looks like the love affair with QB Mitchell Trubisky has come to a crossroads. The Cowboys are doing everything they can to give the NFC East lead away, while the Bears have fought their way back into playoff contention. Dallas has a lot of soul searching to do after getting embarrassed on Thanksgiving day by Buffalo. Two good defensive fronts in this one, but if Dallas’ offense  comes to play they have enough fire power to ride out of chi-town with the W.

Niners are still licking their wounds after coming up short in a slugfest in Baltimore. The Saints are the first team to wrap up a division title in the NFC South. Both squads are striving to achieve that number one overall seed. San Fran’s defense is stingy and will provide a great chess match for Drew Brees and his offense. Niners schedule has been brutal having played the Packers, Ravens and now New Orleans in consecutive weeks. Should be a good possible playoff preview. Saints get the slight edge in the dome.

Can anybody stop the Ravens right now? So far the answer is no. Their 8 game win streak is quite impressive when you consider 5 of those wins have come against the seahawks, Patriots, Texans, Rams, and 49ers. Lamar Jackson has the league buzzing and appears to be the MVP front runner. Buffalo went down to Dallas and shocked the world. They believe they still have a chance to catch the struggling patriots in the AFC East. Bills head coach Sean McDermott has done a wonderful job with his defense. They’re good, but not good enough to stop the Ravens hot streak.

Speaking of the Patriots for years offense has been their staple, but lately the defense has had to carry the weight of this team. In their last 3 outings Tom Brady’s crew has posted 17, 13, and 22 points. Not what we expect from an O that normally racks up 30 plus points a game. They better figure it out in a hurry because the reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs can light it up in a hurry. In their last two games KC has scored 64 points. Patriots defense against the Chiefs offense will be fun to watch. New England is ripe for the picking, and I pick KC to pluck them.

Right now Seattle controls the NFC West and is the two seed in the conference overall. As for the Rams they’re on the outside trying to get back in currently holding the 7th spot. Rams trying to get RB Todd Gurley more involved in the offense which would take some of the pressure off Jared Goff. This is a crucial stretch for the rams ... with 3 straight heavyweight showdowns against Seattle, Dallas, and San Francisco. They’ve already lost to both the hawks and niners earlier in the season. Seattle coming off a huge win over the vikings at home, will up their road mark to 7-0 after getting by Los Angeles.

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Still think Miles Sanders is a bust?

Still think Miles Sanders is a bust?

With one unforgettable play, Miles Sanders went from frustrated rookie to legit NFL running back.

But it didn’t just happen. While Sanders was struggling along with one of the lowest rushing averages in the NFL, he never stopped working to become the player we all expected him to be.

“Week after week he gets better and better and smoother and smoother,” Brandon Brooks said. “I’m extremely excited for him. The biggest thing as a rookie is the game is so much faster, and there’s so much more to think about and finally for him it’s starting to slow down. He busts his ass through the week, whether it’s blitz pickups or hanging out with Duce or being with Sproles, so he knows what’s going on. But I think it’s starting to slow down for him. He’s looking better and better each week.”

Sanders still has to do this consistently, but his 65-yard touchdown run against the Bills Sunday behind a massive Jordan Howard block not only turned a tight four-point game into a 10-point Eagles lead, it really demonstrated what this 22-year-old rookie is capable of.

We’ve already seen what he can do in the passing game. He’s a beast.

He left the game early Sunday with a shoulder injury that he said isn’t serious, but not before he caught three passes for 44 yards and ran three times for 74 yards.

“Happy for him,” Brooks said. “He busts his ass. I was telling Duce, the one thing I saw, it wasn’t even on that run, it was on a kick return, you saw it, he was just really smooth in and out of his cuts, making guys miss, it was like, ‘OK, there it its, it’s coming along.’”

Sanders entered the weekend averaging 3.5 yards per carry, which was seventh-worst of 42 backs in the NFL with at least 50 carries.

His carries had gone down and Howard’s had gone up. But Pederson never completely forgot Sanders. And it was interesting that on a key TD drive in the first half, down near the goal line after the Brandon Graham strip sack, Pederson dialed up Sanders, who gained nine yards on two carries to set up a touchdown.

Sanders’ 65-yard TD was the longest by an Eagle since a 65-yarder by Bryce Brown against the Bears in 2013 and matched the longest since a 66-yarder by LeSean McCoy against the Giants in 2009.

Where Sanders has struggled this year is reading the hole and getting to the second level.

But once he does? Watch out.

In the open field, he looks strong, fast and powerful.

“Obviously it means a lot,” he said. “Rookie season. First rushing touchdown, long one, took it the house. But I have to give credit to the key block that Jordan had and the offensive line. They played a hell of a game the whole game. That play doesn’t happen unless those guys do their jobs.”

Halfway through the season, Sanders is on pace for 1,136 scrimmage yards, a 4.5 rushing average and 38 catches. Only 19 rookie RBs have had 1,100 scrimmage yards, a 4.5 average and at least 35 catches.

Sanders is only the 10th NFL player with 250 yards both rushing and receiving in his first eight career games since 1986. The others are Ricky Watters, Marshall Faulk, Terrell Davis, Edgerrin James, Jahvid Best, Saquon Barkley, Karreem Hunt and Alvin Kamara.

Sanders is the first running back with six catches of at least 25 yards since Tiki Barber in 2004.

He's second among rookies in yards from scrimmage behind only Oakland’s Josh Jacobs, who has 50 more touches. He’s seventh among all rookies — backs and receivers — in receiving yards.

“He’s just learning and learning,” Howard said. “It’s a tough league to adjust to, but I feel like he’s just getting better and better, keep making big plays week in and week out. I feel like he’s getting a lot more comfortable each week … I try to wear the defense down and when he gets in the game he has that game-breaking speed, and it worked out today.”

He’s still learning. Still getting better. Still finding his way.

But it sure looks like the Eagles have found themselves a young stud running back for the first time in a decade.

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Eagle Eye podcast: A season-saving win in Buffalo

Eagle Eye podcast: A season-saving win in Buffalo

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast presented by Nissan, on their way back from Buffalo, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro break down the Eagles’ 31-13 win over the Bills. 

The guys talk about just how important this win was and how the Eagles got it done. The run game was dynamic and the defense held the Bills to 13 points. 

It was a big victory at New Era Field. 

• What the win means 
• Leaders came up big 
• Sorry, Orlando Scandrick 
• Eagles ran the ball down their throats
• Miles Sanders/Jordan Howard both get going 
• Defense does its job 
• Where Brandon Graham ranks all-time
• Carson Wentz has a solid afternoon 
• The guys tried wings in Buffalo 

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