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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone doesn’t want to talk about his short stint with — and abrupt departure from — the Buffalo Bills in advance of the teams’ matchup Sunday in the first round of the playoffs.

That’s not only a waste of time, he said, but also irresponsible and a disservice to his assistant coaches and players.

“What’s past is past,” Marrone said Monday. “I’ll tell you guys the truth. … This stuff happened so long ago, OK? There’s obviously been a lot of stuff out there. That stuff is done. It’s over. I can’t put it any simpler than that. So I’m not going to take away my primary responsibility to look back on a situation that occurred, what, three years ago.

“If I do that, then I shouldn’t be the coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.”

Marrone spent two seasons as the head coach in Buffalo and led the Bills to a 9-7 record in 2014, their first winning season in a decade. He then opted out of his contract because of uncertainty over possible organizational changes after the team was purchased by Terry and Kim Pegula following founder Ralph Wilson’s death.

The clause in his contract that allowed Marrone to do that also guaranteed his $4 million salary in 2015, which he collected even after being hired as the Jaguars’ offensive line coach roughly a month after his resignation.

Marrone became the Jaguars’ interim head coach after Gus Bradley was fired on Dec. 18, 2016, and he was hired permanently on Jan. 9. He guided the Jaguars to a 10-6 record and an AFC South title this season, the franchise’s first division championship since 1999.

The Jaguars will play host to the Bills on Sunday at EverBank Field in Jacksonville’s first playoff appearance since 2007. So, naturally, Marrone’s short-but-complicated history with the Bills is a huge subject this week — but not for Marrone.

“My job is to make sure that I do the best job for this team,” Marrone said. “Hey, listen, am I happy that [Buffalo snapped its 18-year playoff drought]? I am. I am. I’m happy for their fans and I’m happy for the organization, as well as I am for the other 11 teams, or 10 teams that are in it, but my focus is on our fans, our team, and where we want to go.

“It’s going to be a week of people trying to pull that apart, and I’m not going to let that happen because of what my job is.”

Marrone admitted at the NFL scouting combine last March that he did make some mistakes during his Bills tenure. He said he spoke with Terry Pegula but wants to keep that conversation private.

“When you look back, I’ll be honest, there’s some things that I should’ve done differently,” Marrone said at the combine, “and I think I’ve learned from that and it’s made me a better coach today.”

While Marrone wouldn’t say Sunday’s playoff game had any special meaning, nose tackle Marcell Dareus did. Buffalo drafted Dareus third overall in 2011 and he spent the first 6½ seasons of his career there — making the Pro Bowl under Marrone in 2013 and 2014 — before being traded to the Jaguars for a sixth-round pick on Oct. 28.

This weekend’s matchup is definitely personal for him.

“It’s hard to say it isn’t,” Dareus said. “I’m just happy for the opportunity, man. It’s just crazy. God is funny. Just don’t question his work. Just do your job.

“They [Buffalo] had to make a move, and it’s business, but you can’t act like it doesn’t hurt [to be traded for a sixth-round pick].”

Dareus said he received 170 text messages from friends, family and former Bills teammates on Sunday night after the Jaguars-Bills matchup was set. He called it ironic that his former and current teams both snapped playoff droughts and will play each other, but he also said he was happy for his former teammates.

“It’s pretty funny,” said Dareus, who recorded his first sack as a member of the Jaguars during their 15-10 loss at Tennessee on Sunday. “We’re all laughing about it, all my friends back there and everyone here. It’s comical almost.”

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FRISCO, Texas – I know these are strange times when I find myself echoing Jason Garrett – but that’s where we’re at in Week 15.

It’s been a long, strange season. Even by NFL football standards, this one feels like a particularly grueling marathon, from the preseason suspension drama to the off-field storylines, not to mention the inconsistent play on the field.

Take all of that stuff into account, though, and I really think we’re looking at a one-game season for the Dallas Cowboys.

That’s the type of stuff that Garrett loves to say in his press conferences and his locker room speeches – focus on one day at a time, never look past the opportunity in front of you. Yada, yada, yada.

I typically find it all pretty boring, but it fits fairly well in a week like this.

Here’s my reasoning, along with a few other thoughts for Week 15:

1. It’s a big “if,” but if the Cowboys can find a way to get a win in Oakland on Sunday night, the last two weeks of the season flips completely on its head.

We can sit here and say that this Cowboys team isn’t good enough to finish 10-6 and make noise in the playoffs, and that’s honestly fair. They were beaten soundly by the last three playoff contenders they faced – Atlanta, Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Chargers.

But the beauty of the issue is that this Cowboys team is only going to exist for one more week.

Win or lose, when the Cowboys get home from California on Monday morning, Ezekiel Elliott will be allowed to hop in his car and drive to work. He’s still 10th in the league in rushing yards despite missing the past month, and his yards per game average is 13 yards better than the next best back in the league.

We know by now that the Cowboys are a different team with Elliott on the field. Of course it’s possible that it takes him some time to get up to speed after missing six weeks, but it’s still much better to have him than not.

2. To put it more simply, I’m not very confident that this Cowboys team can go 3-0 to wrap up the season – but this Cowboys team doesn’t have. This current group of players merely has to win one game on the West Coast against an Oakland group with a losing record.

If the Cowboys can manage that, however pretty or ugly it looks on the field, they’ll be 8-6 when arguably their best player returns to the fold – and then all bets are off.

3. This is the part where you remind me about all the other stuff that has to happen for the Cowboys to make the playoffs – aside from going 3-0. And I get that.

But honestly, if Dallas can handle its business and win three more games, a lot of that stuff is in line to fall the right way.

Take a look around the upcoming schedule, and you see exactly why the NFL backloads the season slate with division games and grudge matches – it creates drama.

This Sunday, while the Cowboys are waiting for their night game against the Raiders, the Panthers will host the Packers and the Seahawks will host the Rams. The week after, there’s a Saturday night game between Green Bay and Minnesota, followed by Sunday games between Detroit and Cincinnati, as well as New Orleans and Atlanta. And then of course every single Week 17 matchup is a division game.

It’s going to create some really fun scoreboard watching during the final three weeks.

Essentially, it boils down to this: the Falcons and Packers hold head-to-head tiebreakers over Dallas. The Cowboys need Green Bay to lose one of its last three games – against either Carolina, Minnesota or Detroit. They need Atlanta to lose two of its last three – coming from the trio of Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Carolina. They also want the Lions to also lose one, whether it comes against Chicago, Cincinnati or Green Bay.

Given the Seahawks’ loss to Jacksonville on Sunday evening, the Cowboys can overtake them simply by winning that game on Christmas Eve.

4. It’s a lot to process, and it ultimately doesn’t mean anything if the Cowboys don’t win out.

But just to keep it simple: for the next three weeks, you’re rooting against the Falcons, Lions and Packers. It might not hurt to root for the Los Angeles Rams and Carolina Panthers, as well.

The Cowboys haven’t gotten a ton of help in that regard over the last two weeks, but there’s still plenty of time for these wildcard odds to swing in their favor. As long as they keep winning.

5. The NFL did a good job of scheduling to create some late-season drama, but my goodness can we get some help from the football gods?

I’ve already used this column to lament the amount of significant injuries this season, so I’m not going to spend a ton of time on it. But man, as a fan of football, it’s hard to articulate what a bummer it is that we won’t see Carson Wentz in the playoff this year.

I know, I know. Don’t even bother. You as Cowboys fans hate the Eagles, and you didn’t want them to win a Super Bowl, anyway. I completely understand that. But the playoffs are going to happen one way or another, and I’d just as soon watch the best product possible in the biggest games of the year.

It would’ve been fun to see if Wentz could handle the staggering pressure of delivering for one of the NFL’s longest-suffering franchises. It would’ve been fun to see the reaction around Philadelphia if the Eagles were dealt a bitter disappointment, like what happened to the Cowboys last January. Instead, we’re just stuck with the 500th major injury this season – and it just sucks for the quality of football we’re watching.

If the playoffs started today, the quarterbacks of the top two teams in the NFC would be Nick Foles and Case Keenum. No disrespect intended toward them, but it’s just not must-see TV.

6. Thanks to DeMarcus Lawrence, we’re having quite the conversation about penalties these last few days.

There’s no way you missed it, but just in case you did, Lawrence had quite a sound bite about the officiating in the Cowboys’ last few games – or lack thereof, in his opinion:

That transcription doesn’t even include the expletive he threw in at the end, for good measure. But you get the point. There has been a noticeable lack of holdings calls for this Dallas defense this season.

I actually took the time to look it up, thanks to the wonders of the Internet. Here is your breakdown.

So, yes. Lawrence isn’t imagining things. The Cowboys have only benefitted from eight holding calls all year – and four of those came in the first three weeks of the season. From Week 4 against Los Angeles, until Week 10 against Atlanta, they didn’t receive a single holding call from an opposing offensive lineman.

On strictly offensive and defensive plays, NFL refs have thrown a total of 514 offensive holding flags this year. That’s an average of 16 per team – so the Cowboys have received exactly half of the league average.

7. At the same time, I’m not sure I can follow you on this talk about NFL officiating conspiracies. It honestly just seems like bad luck, more than anything else.

Look at the rest of that breakdown. The Cowboys bring up the rear, but the Eagles, Panthers and Seahawks are not far behind – with each of the three drawing just 11 holding flags. And those are some of the most fearsome pass rushes in the league, featuring players like Fletcher Cox, Julius Peppers and Michael Bennett.

The New Orleans Saints are having a defensive renaissance thanks to Pro Bowl talents like Cam Jordan, and the Broncos of course have Von Miller – and they have each drawn just 12 holding flags.

I think it probably has a lot to do with the officiating crew you draw for any given game, as well as the circumstances in the game and the players involved – shocking analysis, I know.

Another thing I wonder is about the recognition of the players involved, so to speak. For instance, it seems like the Dallas offensive line has been flagged an inordinate amount of times. Tyron Smith and Jonathan Cooper have been called for holding five teams each, while La’el Collins has incurred three holdings flags, with two for Travis Frederick.

Am I crazy to think that because the Cowboys’ offensive line is highly lauded and filled with Pro Bowlers that they’re more likely to draw a flag if their technique isn’t perfect? I don’t think so.

In the same vein, the Cowboys’ pass rush isn’t exactly stocked with household names. DeMarcus Lawrence is obviously No. 2 in the NFL in sacks right now, but he has been an under-the-radar player for the entirety of his career before this. The same can be said for all of his linemates.

I wonder if that factors into things, and if we’ll see more favorable calls for these Dallas defenders as their stature continues to grow in the league.

8. I’m thankful heading into this Oakland trip that these teams are still relevant – even if both clubs thought they’d have a more successful season.

The Raiders are heading for Las Vegas in the near future, so I’d imagine this is the last time we’ll see the Cowboys play a regular season game in Oakland. Like I said, I’m sure the Raiders were hoping they’d have more than six wins at this point. I’m positive the Cowboys were planning on having more than seven.

Still, both of these teams still have hope of making the playoffs, so I’m hopeful the venue should do this matchup justice. I want to see the Black Hole in all its glory, and I can’t think of two better fanbases to fill up a prime time atmosphere than the Raiders, and the Cowboys – who I’m positive will be well-represented on the West Coast. Looking forward to seeing y’all there.

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When the sun set on the beaches of Miami, Fla., all eyes turned to Hard Rock Stadium.

Under the bright lights, with the cameras rolling, the Oakland Raiders took the field for a primetime showdown with the Miami Dolphins on Sunday Night Football. Throughout the team’s preparation all week in Sarasota, Fla., it was apparent that the group needed a win, and they weren’t going to leave the Sunshine State without one.

By the end of the night, the Silver and Black had totaled 379 yards, rushing for 84 yards, and passed for 295. The team played well in all three phases of the game, which is a major reason the Raiders were able to walk away with a 27-24 victory.

Following the game, let’s recap the three matchups we highlighted heading into the Week 9 tilt, presented by DirecTV.

Offensive Lineman Kelechi Osemele vs. Defensive Tackle Ndamukong Suh

When the Raiders offense and the Dolphins defense locked horns for the first time Sunday night, two of the NFL’s most-physical behemoths went to battle. While the skirmish between Osemele and Suh was the featured matchup, the Dolphins tried to pair Suh against fellow Raiders guard Gabe Jackson. Once the clock struck 00:00, Suh had registered one tackle, one sack, and one forced fumble. The Raiders offensive line did a great job of limiting the five-time Pro Bowler, and even had a little fun at his expense.

On 3rd and 2, with running back Marshawn Lynch lined up in the backfield, and Suh facing a potential Jackson and tackle Marshall Newhouse double team, the Raiders offensive linemen did the exact opposite upon the snap. With a full head of steam, Suh burst through the line of scrimmage expecting Jackson and Newhouse to block him, but instead found himself falling flat on his face, leaving an open hole for Lynch to run through.

In my assessment, I think it’s fair to say this round goes to the Raiders O-line.

Raiders Secondary vs. Wide Receivers Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker

With cornerbacks Gareon Conley and David Amerson unable to participate, the team turned to Sean Smith, TJ Carrie, and Dexter McDonald against the Dolphins. Facing one of the most-productive receivers in the game in Landry, the group limited him to 32 yards, and allowed 76 yards to Parker. The duo of Fins wide outs have big-play capabilities, and one of Raiders Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr.’s points of emphasis is not allowing anything over the top of the defense, and Sunday night the defense prevented that from happening.

Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler had an efficient day at the office, as he completed 34 of 42 passes for 311 yards, and three touchdowns, but in regards to the performance from Landry and Parker, the Raiders secondary did its job, and kept them in check for a majority of the game.

Raiders Defensive Line vs. Running Back Kenyan Drake

In Miami’s first game without running back Jay Ajayi, the team managed to rush for 86 yards, with 69 of them coming from second-year back Kenyan Drake. This was the former University of Alabama running back’s first opportunity to take over the reins, and while he didn’t have a bad day on the ground, he fumbled, and was unable to find pay dirt.

For the most part, the Raiders defensive line kept Drake and the rest of the Fins running back corps from gaining chunk yards – minus one Drake run for 42 yards. The defensive front has only allowed one 100-yard rusher all season, and their next challenge will be the New England Patriots in Week 11.

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Robby Anderson

Robby Anderson

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — One day after his temper tantrum and helmet spike, New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson apologized to his coaches and received a rebuke from coach Todd Bowles.

“We don’t condone anything like that, we don’t tolerate anything like that,” Bowles told reporters on Monday. “It won’t happen again.”

Bowles said he discussed it with Anderson, whom he believes “just has to find a better way to handle his frustration — and he will.”

Anderson’s outburst didn’t have an impact on the outcome — a 31-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins — but it symbolized the tenor of the day. After an incomplete pass with eight seconds to play, the second-year wide receiver took off his helmet with both hands and fired it into the turf. It went about 12 yards — or longer than the team’s fourth-quarter passing output.

Throwing the helmet is a no-no, resulting in an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. It backed up the Jets to their 8-yard line for one last desperation play, which failed. It was the last of 12 penalties called on the Jets, who blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter.

“It’s definitely something he learned from,” receivers coach Karl Dorrell told ESPN. “He knows he can’t operate with those type of emotions. It’s not productive for anybody, and he was very apologetic both to me and Coach about that. He was just so wound up about trying to win the game.”

Dorrell said they talked to him after the game about it, and they “brought him in” on Monday to discuss it again.

Bowles refrained from comment after the game because he claimed he didn’t see it. By Monday, he had seen it and he wasn’t happy.

Commenting after the game, Anderson said, “It was just frustration, you know. I’m very passionate about this and I love this game. It hurts losing.”

He said he wasn’t aware that it’s a penalty if a player removes his helmet on the field.

The day wasn’t a total loss for Anderson, who scored on an 18-yard reception. He celebrated with a Hard Rock Leap … or something like that. He jumped over a low wall in the back of the end zone and sat in the first row, taking a seat in a big, comfy chair in the VIP section.