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“Arguably the greatest stretch an organization has had in any sport. He’s on the Mount Rushmore of coaches. If he’s still not in New England, he’ll be coaching somewhere.”– Jason Garrett on Bill Belichick and the Patriots

“It seems like this is the end in New England, and this is a heck of a dynasty…the greatest NFL coach of all time.” – Former Patriot Devin McCourty on Bill Belichick

“They’re not rushing the passer, they’re not stopping the run, and people are shredding their pass defense apart…who ever thought this would happen with the Eagles?” – Chris Simms

“A 96% chance to make the playoffs six weeks ago ends at zero…that’s torturing your fanbase.” – Steve Kornacki on the Jaguars

STAMFORD, Conn. – Jan. 7, 2024 – NBC Sports’ presentation of Week 18 of the 2023 NFL season began tonight from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., with Football Night in America leading into coverage of Bills-Dolphins for the AFC East title in NFL Game 272 on Sunday Night Football on NBC and Peacock.

Ahmed Fareed hosted FNIA from NBC Sports’ Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn. He was joined by former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, three-time Super Bowl champion Devin McCourty, former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, fantasy sports industry pioneer Matthew Berry, and NFL Insider Mike Florio. Steve Kornacki was also in studio to break down the upcoming playoff scenarios and matchups. Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy and two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison joined co-host Jac Collinsworth at the site of the game. Maria Taylor is on parental leave.

Mike Tirico (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst), Melissa Stark (sideline reporter) and Terry McAulay (rules analyst) are calling tonight’s game.


Following are highlights from tonight’s edition of Football Night in America on NBC and Peacock:


Harrison: “The Bills are finally built for the playoffs. On the defensive side of the ball, (head coach Sean) McDermott’s done a great job with that veteran group. But on the offensive side of the ball, they’re leaning on James Cook. They don’t just have to depend on Josh Allen to do everything. It makes them a lot more dangerous.”

McCourty on reduced production from WR Stefon Diggs: “The thing that sticks out to me is that he’s not on the field as much. There are some key third down situations (where he’s not on the field), and when he’s on the field, you have to double team him, you have to send some attention to him. It makes everyone else around him better, so I don’t understand why he’s not on the field at the same rate (as he was earlier in the year).”

Simms: “They’ve embraced the ugly – run the football, and they’ve been tough doing that. But I think they’ve also stopped worrying about trying to make the Diggs-Allen connection such a big thing. Let’s spread the ball around more and it’s made them a more effective, complete offense.”

Harrison on the traveling Bills fans in Miami: “This atmosphere is unbelievable. This feels like I’m in Buffalo! Half the fans are Buffalo Bills fans. It’s incredible.”


Harrison on the defense: “Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has to be concerned about his defense. The injuries and the miscommunication they’ve had…little things that keep you from winning championships.”

Dungy: “How do you correct that? Does that mean playing more zone coverage? To play zone, you have to be able to rush the passer, but you don’t have your best pass rusher, Bradley Chubb…that could mean more blitzes tonight.”


McCourty: “You never want to say that a team has no chance, but Dallas will be a heavy favorite. They play their best ball at home, and I expect Dallas to execute and come away with the win.”

Garrett: “Dallas is better than Green Bay. They’re so good at home…but Green Bay has got to feel good about how their defense has played. And they certainly have to feel good about how Jordan Love has played. Go down there and cut it loose and see what happens.”


Garrett: “(The Eagles) went from being one of the best teams in the league a month and a half ago to one of the worst teams in the league. They’ve got to go to Tampa. Tampa’s got a streaky quarterback in Baker Mayfield, they’ve got big-time receivers, and they can play defense. I’m taking the Buccaneers.”


Garrett on the Eagles’ loss to the Giants: “Jalen Hurts hurts his finger – symbolic of their season as well coming down the stretch.”

Simms: “There’s issues everywhere. They’re not rushing the passer that well, they’re not stopping the run and people are shredding their pass defense apart…who ever thought this would happen with the Eagles? The way they dominated football early on in the year, to be on this losing streak playing this way into the playoffs? Wow.”


Garrett on QB Dak Prescott and WR CeeDee Lamb: “What a combination and what a year for these guys. The best quarterback-receiver combination in the NFL showed up big-time today in Washington…the Cowboys are ready for the playoffs.”

Simms: “Dak Prescott had an MVP-type of year.”


Harrison on the possibility of Bill Belichick having coached his final game with the Patriots: “I think it’s the best thing. There’s nothing more he can accomplish. He gave New England everything that he had.”

Dungy on Belichick: “If this was the end for Coach Belichick, it was a marvelous era. We will never see anything like this again. All those championships, it was fantastic.”

Harrison on Belichick’s belief in him: “Personally, he gave me an opportunity when a lot of other coaches and organizations didn’t give me an opportunity. He always gives the underdog an opportunity. Myself, Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Wes Welker, guys like that. Guys that other people didn’t believe in, he believed in.”

McCourty on Belichick: “The greatest thing I learned from him is respect. He’s always respected his players, the coaches, everyone that’s worked for him – I don’t think he gets that credit. Everyone talks about how hard it is…the biggest thing he has is respect for everyone…it seems like this is the end in New England, and this is a heck of a dynasty…the greatest NFL coach of all time. He’s done nothing but win, win, win throughout his career.”

Garrett on Belichick: “Arguably the greatest stretch an organization has had in any sport. Unprecedented. He’s on the Mount Rushmore of coaches. If he’s still not in New England, he’ll be coaching somewhere.”

Simms on Belichick: “It seems time to break apart. The marriage has ended, I think we all feel that. He can still coach some football, he can still coach some defense. It’s the managerial stuff that I think we question – how you handle the offensive coordinator, the quarterback change, lack of speed at receiver.”

Florio on Belichick’s future: “This year was the clincher, but the relationship went off the rails last year when Bill Belichick insisted on taking longtime defensive coach Matt Patricia and making him the offensive coordinator. That was a debacle. So here we are: five years of no postseason wins and a sense that he is just too resistant to change and innovate even though he is still regarded as an excellent gameday coach. The big question is what label will be used: Will it be a firing? Will it be a mutual parting? There’s been speculation about a potential trade; that is highly unlikely. Too many moving parts, takes too long, and there’s no reason for Belichick to ever go along with that arrangement.”

McCourty on Patriots captain Matthew Slater after potentially playing his final game: “A rare type of not just player but human being. Everyone knows what he did as a special teams player, but for me, every single day I try to be more like that guy right there because of what he stands for.”


McCourty on Chris Jones recording one sack in Week 18 to trigger a $1.25 million contract incentive: “Chris Jones said, ‘Coach Andy Reid, I’m not resting. I need to get this money!’ Chris Jones is buying dinners everywhere tonight.”


McCourty on the Jaguars missing the playoffs: “What a collapse by the Jaguars…Favored to win the division, now they’ll be watching the playoffs from their couch.”

Kornacki: “Six weeks ago, the Jaguars had a 96% chance to make the playoffs. All they could do was beat the Panthers. They lost every other game the rest of the way. A 96% chance to make the playoffs six weeks ago ends at zero…that’s torturing your fanbase.”

Garrett: “No doubt the Trevor Lawrence injury impacted them, but they lost their swagger, they lost their edge. For them to lose this game today? Tennessee had nothing to play for, Jacksonville everything to play for.”


Florio on the future of the Commanders’ coaching situation: “New owner means change. Ron Rivera lived through this in Carolina a few years ago and now it’s widely expected that he will be among the first changes made that the season has ended in Washington. Where do they go from here? Keep an eye on Bill Belichick. Josh Harris, the new owner of the team, I’m told, is enamored with the idea of Belichick becoming the coach. The question is, will Belichick want to be fully in control of the football operations like he has been in New England, and if he wants that, will Harris give it to him?”


Florio on the future of Falcons head coach Arthur Smith: “A 7-10 record in each of his three seasons as head coach. No clear indication from owner Arthur Blank, but few will be surprised if he does move on from Arthur Smith. The real question may be how much higher up the organization do changes come if Arthur Blank decides it’s time for change in Atlanta.”


Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL post-game show produced by NBC Sports, streams exclusively on Peacock following every Sunday Night Football game during the 2023 season. The show is hosted from the game site by Jac Collinsworth, Harrison, and Dungy, who will provide instant reactions to each Sunday game along with highlights and interviews, while Berry will host a weekly segment called “DraftKings Crowning Moments,” where the fantasy sports analyst will discuss his successful bets from that day; he will also provide fantasy advice and an early look at the waiver wire. Football Night in America’s studio team will also provide recaps and insights into the day’s biggest moments, while Florio will provide injury and news updates.

-- Football Night in America --