The NFL's top two total offenses will meet when the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles clash on Sunday Night Football this week.
The Dolphins (5-1) currently pace the NFL in total offense and are on course to set a single-season record with 498.7 total yards per game. The Eagles (5-1) are second in the metric at 395.0. Yes, the gap there is the largest difference in NFL history between the first- and second-ranked total offenses, but that's besides the point.
The parallels between these two teams go beyond their closeness in the rankings and standings.
Here's a look at how the franchises took similar approaches to building their prolific offenses, brick by brick:
1) Select a franchise QB in the 2020 NFL Draft
The Dolphins and Eagles each selected their current franchise quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft, and the two happened to be college teammates at Alabama: Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts (who later transferred to Oklahoma).
Miami made Tagovailoa the franchise's second-highest-drafted quarterback (fifth overall) of the common-draft era. The Eagles selected Hurts 53rd overall as a developmental prospect and a backup to incumbent starter Carson Wentz. By the end of their rookie seasons, Tagovailoa had led the Dolphins to a 6-3 record as a starter, and Hurts had unseated Wentz, starting the Eagles' final four games.
However, their potential had not yet been transformed into star power. The head coaches who would help do that were waiting in the near future.
2) Draft an Alabama WR in the top 10 in 2021
The following year, both teams traded up in the draft to secure each of their quarterbacks an elite target on the outside. Both receivers also happened to be former Alabama teammates of Tagovailoa and Hurts: Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith.
The Dolphins selected Waddle sixth overall (having traded into that spot in a March swap with, ironically, Philadelphia), and the Eagles selected Smith 10th overall (having traded into that spot in a swap with Dallas, with part of the price being, ironically, a pick acquired from Miami). Smith actually caught the game-winning touchdown in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship from Tagovailoa, who had replaced Hurts at halftime.
In Year 1, Waddle set Dolphins rookie records for receptions (104) and receiving yards (1,015), while Smith set an Eagles rookie record for receiving yards (916).
The January prior to the draft, Philadelphia hired Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni as a first-time head coach, to help orchestrate the Eagles' offense and develop Hurts.
3) Trade for and extend an elite WR1 in 2022
To acquire Hill, the Dolphins traded a package of picks that included 2022 first- and second-round selections to the Chiefs. Miami then signed Hill to a four-year, $120 million extension that made him the NFL's highest-paid receiver.
The Eagles followed suit by trading first- and third-round picks to the Titans for Brown during the draft, then inking him to a four-year, $100 million pact. And so the duos were set: Hill and Waddle for Tagovailoa in Miami, and Brown and Smith in Philadelphia with Hurts.
The February prior to these moves, Miami hired 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel as a first-time head coach, to help construct the Dolphins' offense and develop Tagovailoa.
4) Enjoy QB breakouts in Year 3
With new duos to target, Tagovailoa and Hurts took real strides in their third NFL seasons. Despite missing significant time -- including the Dolphins' playoff game -- to injury, Tagovailoa led the NFL in passing yards per attempt (8.9) and passer rating (105.5). Hurts, meanwhile, went 14-1 as a starter, took his team to the Super Bowl and ranked in the top four in yards per attempt (8.0, third) and passer rating (101.5, fourth). He also recorded 13 rushing touchdowns, tied for second in the NFL.
Hill and Brown each set single-season franchise records for receiving yards in their first campaign with their new teams. Hill ranked second in receiving yards (1,710), behind Justin Jefferson, while Brown finished fourth (1,496). Not that the youngsters loafed; Waddle finished seventh in the NFL (1,356) and Smith finished ninth (1,196). That's two teams combining to put four players in the top 10 in receiving yards in the same season.
Since the start of last season, the three players with the highest passing yards per attempt are Tagovailoa, Patrick Mahomes and Hurts (minimum 400 attempts). The teammate duo with the most receiving yards over that span? Hill and Waddle with 3,962. The second most? Brown and Smith with 3,523.
All of that has led us here ...
Two of the league's brightest young quarterbacks with a super-talented duo of pass catchers at their disposal, coached by offensive wizards, will face off for the first time in their NFL careers, in a pivotal Week 7 matchup. This isn't just a recreation of the Super Bowl first teased in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective in 1994 -- the game could also serve as a preview for an actual Super Bowl LVIII showdown in Las Vegas.