Horror movies aren’t for everyone, but they can be a good time, even though the genre is filled with standard tropes. 

There’s ominous music that builds tension and then when it suddenly stops, the jump scare happens. There are morons who always run in the wrong direction. Don’t forget the silly girl who suddenly can’t make a door lock work properly. 

But perhaps the most recognizable one is when the hero finally kills the monster at the end of the film. He or she thinks all is safe, but the creature or serial killer gives one last gasp of terror before the protagonist delivers the killshot that puts a cap on the madness. 

Which brings us to the Buffalo Bills. NFL teams had their chance. They looked like they had finally got into the truck and sped away while Leatherface madly swung the chainsaw out of frustration in the rearview mirror. The Bills had lost three of four games and limped into their bye week with a 6-6 record, well out of the AFC playoff bubble. Their offensive coordinator had been shown the door. Everything was collapsing. 

But sometimes a week off can reset your chakras and waft away the stench of failure. And that’s what happened. Buffalo came back and beat the Chiefs in Kansas City. And while I expected them to beat the Cowboys at home, I didn’t think they would do so in such an easy manner. They took apart Dallas 31-10 and put the league on notice. 

As Stugotz would say on the Dan LeBatard show, the Bills are …. BACK. 

They’re not back in the playoff bubble yet, but they control their own destiny. If they win their last three games, they’re in. And let’s break down what’s coming and predict the future. 

Sunday at the Chargers: Win.

Dec. 31 against the Patriots: Win. 

Jan. 7 at the Dolphins: Yes, they will win this game. I’ve said this before, I don’t buy the Dolphins as a real Super Bowl contender. They can beat up on teams that can’t fight back. The Bills can return fire with the best of them. All of their six losses have been close games. They’re more than capable of going down to South Florida and taking that one. 

And who knows, a win there could give the Bills the AFC East title. If you haven’t noticed, Miami has to face the Cowboys and Ravens before the regular-season finale against the Bills. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Dolphins go 0-3 in that stretch. 

So, Buffalo could go from moribund to a division champ and the team that nobody wants to face in the playoffs. 

You had your chance, NFL. The Bills aren’t dead and they’re coming for you. Sorry. 

NFL’S TOP 10 

 1) 49ers – What a wonderful team to watch. They do everything well. I also laugh at my progression with Brock Purdy. I’ve gone from calling him a system fraud, to grudgingly admitting he’s capable, to now thinking that yeah, maybe he is an MVP-caliber player. And what a story that would be. I’ve been selfish to deny that. Now, if San Francisco wants to be nice, they could rest their stars when they face the Rams in Week 18. Maybe do L.A. a favor and help them get into the playoffs? Eh? Eh?

 2) Ravens – Their hell month to end the season began with a relatively easy win over the Jaguars last week. Now they’ve got a potential Super Bowl preview in San Francisco on Christmas Day. Wowza. Sometimes I just want to hug the NFL schedule makers for giving us so much goodness to watch. Now, if I was dumb, I’d say Baltimore should hold something back in case they face the Niners again in February. But no, they need to win this game. I don’t think they will, but if you lose, don’t have it be because you were trying to play mind games.

 3) Bills – I saw some people have Buffalo this high after their win over the Chiefs last week. I was too afraid to pull the trigger on that, but I’m not anymore. This team is that good and are getting hot at the perfect time. They’re scary.

 4) Dolphins – This is the last time you’ll see Miami this high. I’m almost considering this a going-away gift. Things are going to get dicey fast with the schedule they have in front of them. But I will say that it was encouraging to see Tua Tagovailoa play so well without Tyreek Hill. And the defense pitched a shutout. That has to count for something.

 5) Cowboys – Just when I was ready to get out my special Bill Parcells-approved anointing oil, they laid an egg in Buffalo. Again, I was expecting them to lose that game, but I was expecting the final score to be a bit closer. If they have to play a road playoff game, they’re in big trouble. And if that road game is in San Francisco, forget about it.

 6) Chiefs – Nothing like a game in New England if you need to stop a two-game skid. They won and got off the schneid. What’s even better is that they’ve got three winnable games coming up. With a little bit of luck, they’re still in play for the AFC’s top seed.

 7) Eagles – How the mighty have fallen. Remember when Philly had a good defense? Seems like a distant memory because that unit is now their weak spot. Hard to believe. And to lose to the Seahawks like that is just inexcusable. Get it together, fellas. 

 8) Browns – I really like this team. Granted, they needed to rally to beat the Bears, but that’s not really something to be that ashamed about. Chicago has been playing good football over the last month. And Joe Flacco is just the steady presence this offense needs. Good stuff.

 9) Lions – This feels low, right? Especially after they smacked the Broncos around while Jared Goff threw 5 touchdown passes. This is what happens when you take care of the football. For all the complexity in the game, it really is simple. Don’t turn it over and you’ll win more often than not.

 10) Colts – You could make the argument for a lot of teams to be in this spot. And none of those arguments would be wrong. But for now, I’m going with the team that has withstood a ton of injuries and have still won five of their last six games, including a win over the fraud Steelers this past Sunday.

 WHAT’S THE CHATTER? 

Clown of the Week Award: Steelers wideout George Pickens gets the nod. You see, against the Colts on Saturday, he chose not to block on a running play near the goal line. His reasoning? He didn’t want to get hurt. You know why Cooper Kupp is a great player? Because he blocks. George Pickens, you are not a great player. Hell, you’re not even a good player. 

I like this guy: I spent some time dumping cold water on the Dolphins this week, but I do enjoy head coach Mike McDaniel. I’m not the only one who calls them out for not beating good teams. Far from it. In fact, the reporters McDaniels deals with every day can’t stop bringing it up. And Mikey has had it up to here with their shenanigans. With the Cowboys coming up on their schedule, he took questions about that “narrative” and this is what he had to say. 

“I instructed the players that anything other than concerning yourself with the next opponent, which for us is the Dallas Cowboys, any other narrative that has to do with good teams, or playoff seeds, or the next three games, all that stuff, I gave them the clearance to tell all members of the media, to, with all due respect, F off. With all due respect.” 

 

Shutting up, sir! 

 

Ram it, baby: My Los Angeles Rams would have the seventh seed if the regular season ended today. But unfortunately, there are still three weeks left and L.A. has to play a Thursday night game. But for them to be at 7-7 at this point is just amazing. And one could make the argument that their record could be even better had they not shot themselves in the foot a couple times (cough, against the Steelers, cough). If they can finish the season at 9-8 and sneak into the playoffs, Sean McVay’s status as a great coach is signed and sealed. 

Get out! Speaking of Los Angeles, Brandon Staley had overstayed his welcome by a few weeks. But for the Chargers to lose 63-21 to the Raiders, of all teams, was a kick in the ass of biblical proportions. And so yes, he very much deserved to be fired, which he was the following day. He’ll find a coordinator job somewhere. Who knows, Sean McVay might bring him back in a consulting role for the rest of the season. 

Speaking of the Chargers: There are some rumors flying around that with Bill Belichick reportedly on the outs in New England, that he could be a good fit in Los Angeles. The Chargers are in the AFC West. So are the Chiefs. And Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce would prefer it if Belichick didn’t show up in his division: 

“Can we get like a young, never heard-of college coach?” Travis Kelce said. “I don’t want a f***ing good coach to come in the f***ing, my division dude. Get the f*** out of here. I hope they f***ing hire some jabroni, man.” 

I hear you, Travis. By the way, how’s Taylor doing? Tell her I said what’s up. 

APPOINTMENT VIEWING FOR WEEK 16 

Saints at Rams: Both teams are obviously on a short week, but it’s worse for New Orleans because they have to travel. Vegas oddsmakers favor the Rams by 4 points, but I’m not so sure. I refuse to bet on Thursday games because too many crazy things can happen. And this game could have some wildness to it since both teams are 7-7 and really need a win.  

Bengals at Steelers: Come on, Cincinnati. You’re playing well and Pittsburgh isn’t. A win here and the Steelers will drop below .500. Don’t let me down, Jake Browning. Keep slinging it like you’ve been doing. Wait … shouldn’t I be an impartial analyst? Yes, I should be, but what fun is that? It’s nothing personal, I just think the Steelers stink this year. 

Bills at Chargers: Buffalo should win this one easily, but I’m curious to see how strong the Bills look. If they put the wood to L.A., the rest of the league should get even more scared. 

Seahawks at Titans: What a huge win that was for Seattle on Monday. Now they’ve got to follow that up with a victory in Tennessee. They’re not out of the playoff hunt yet, even though I thought they were circling the drain last week.  

Lions at Vikings: Detroit can clinch a division title for the first time in 30 years. They shouldn’t have a problem doing that. 

Browns at Texans: Bad news for Houston, because C.J. Stroud is likely to miss this game as he recovers from a concussion. Smart move for the organization. Play the long game, even if it costs you a playoff berth this season. 

Jaguars at Buccaneers: Big game for both teams. Tampa is in first place in the bad NFC South and if New Orleans loses on Thursday night, the Buccaneers could make a strong move toward a division crown. Meanwhile, Jacksonville is taking on water and needs this win in the worst way. 

Cowboys at Dolphins: I’ve been to many games at Hard Rock Stadium. I can safely guarantee that there will be a ton of Cowboys fans in the stands on Sunday afternoon. I like Dallas to win. 

Ravens at 49ers: I love San Francisco to make its most impactful statement in this game. Not only have the Niners dominated their biggest competition in the NFC, they can prove that they’re way too much for the AFC’s best to handle as well.  

Enjoy the games and Merry Christmas! 

Sid Saraf
Sid Saraf

NFL Analyst

Currently a Mobile Editor at Yahoo, Saraf spent 5.5 years (Oct. 2010 – Feb. 2016) working for FOX Sports as an NFL Editor and Writer. Prior to that, Saraf worked for CBS Interactive for 4.5 years (May 2006 – Oct. 2010) as a Staff Editor.

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