. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Battle by the Bay Eclipses Clash of AFC Leaders

NEW YORK -- There's only one meeting between division leaders in the American National Football League this Sunday, and it's not Dallas at San Francisco.


While the big name teams slug it out on the West Coast, Buffalo will be at Philadelphia, the AFC East Division co-leader against the team that's two games up on the Cowboys in the NFC East after beating Dallas last week.


Buffalo (6-3), did the Eagles a favor last week, beating Washington 38-13 to end the Redskins' seven-game winning streak and drop them into a tie with Philadelphia at 7-2 after the Eagles' dramatic 31-21 victory in Dallas.


All that victory over the Cowboys did, however, was give Ray Rhodes an excuse about keeping the Eagles on an even keel, like the 1994 Eagles, who started 7-2, then lost seven straight.


"I've seen some other teams be 7-2 and think they've arrived," Rhodes says. "I think one of them was right around here somewhere."


This is a weekend of marquee matchups.


Philadelphia comes into the Buffalo game off the improbable victory in Dallas. Just as the Cowboys seemed ready to tie and perhaps win, James Willis intercepted Troy Aikman's pass in the end zone and lateraled to Troy Vincent, who returned it for the clinching touchdown.


The Bills, tied with New England for the division lead, go to Philadelphia off their best offensive game of the season. They got 266 yards rushing against Washington, with both Thurman Thomas and Darick Holmes going over 100 yards. They did it in the "K-Gun" offense, the no-huddle, one-back unit that helped them get to four Super Bowls.


If the Eagles are to win, Ty Detmer, 4-0 as a starter since taking over at quarterback for the injured Rodney Peete, needs time to throw.


That means the key matchup is Barrett Brooks, the Eagles' second-year left tackle, against Bruce Smith.


"He's the most complete defensive player I've ever played," Brooks said. "I don't call him 'Bruce.' I call him 'Mr. Smith."'


Dallas (5-4) has the same record going to San Francisco that the 49ers had going to Dallas last season. San Francisco was in even more dire straits then -- the quarterback was backup Elvis Grbac.


But the 49ers got off quickly and won 38-20, their third victory without a loss against Dallas teams coached by Barry Switzer.


Deion Sanders, who has been playing both ways for Dallas, might see a little less action at wide receiver this week because of the return of Kevin Williams from a broken foot. Sanders first filled in when Michael Irvin was suspended for substance abuse, then took over for Williams when Irvin returned.


"He ran routes and caught passes like he hasn't missed a day of practice," Switzer said of Williams after his return to practice Wednesday.


Green Bay (8-1) has a similar problem when it goes to Kansas City, which at 6-3 is two games behind Denver in the AFC West.


Both its starting offensive tackles, Ken Ruettgers and Earl Dotson are out, leaving rookie John Michels and journeyman Bruce Wilkerson to block Neil Smith and Derrick Thomas. Wilkerson at least has experience -- he spent the majority of his years with the Raiders, playing the Chiefs twice.


The Chiefs have one other thing going -- they've won 12 of their last 13 games at home.