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NFL Week 11 Preview — Is Tony Romo Too Late to Save the Cowboys?

Tony Romo
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Week 11 of the 2015 NFL season is the last week for byes, meaning the NFL playoff push is about to get real. Here’s a preview of this week’s action:

Sunday, November 22

Is Tony Romo Too Late To Save The Cowboys?
Tony Romo
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Dallas at Miami | Sun Life Stadium, Miami; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox

The Cowboys expect Tony Romo to start at quarterback against the Dolphins on Sunday for the first time since fracturing his left collarbone in a Week 2 win over the Eagles. Dallas (2-7) hasn’t won since Romo’s injury, losing seven consecutive games. Despite the long losing streak, the Cowboys are just three games behind the Giants in the mediocrity-loves-company NFC East.

A rusty Romo will likely not be that much better this week than backups Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden were in his absence, but it might still be enough to beat inconsistent Miami (4-5). The Dolphins pass rush knows that it can change the game — and stay in the AFC playoff hunt — by getting to Romo. This could be a chippy game.

Brock Osweiler Will Be Handing Off a Lot
Brock Osweiler
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Denver at Chicago | Soldier Field, Chicago; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS

Future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning was terrible for the Broncos this season, but was he worse than Brock Osweiler is about to be? We’ll start finding out this week. Manning is out with a partially torn plantar fascia in his right foot, meaning 2012 second-round draft pick Osweiler gets to lead Denver (7-2) for the foreseeable future. What we’ll most likely see: Osweiler handing-off to running backs Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson in a run-heavy offense as the AFC West leaders march to the playoffs.

Paced by a rejuvenated Jay Cutler, Chicago (4-5) has won four of six games since starting the season with three lopsided defeats. If the Bears want to continue making their case as an NFC playoff team, they’ll have to figure out how to move the ball on a sack-happy Broncos defense that is one of the NFL’s best.

The Packers-Vikings Winner Controls the NFC North Race
Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings
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Green Bay at Minnesota | TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on Fox

Three weeks ago, Green Bay (6-3) was undefeated and seemed to be one of the best teams in the NFL. Not anymore. With quarterback Aaron Rodgers struggling as much as the Packers’ defense, Green Bay is looking up at the NFC North-leading Vikings coming into this Sunday’s showdown.

Minnesota (7-2) has moved into contender status with MVP-candidate and running back Adrian Peterson and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater leading the way. Both are dinged up, but expected to play this week. If the Vikes can control the clock and keep Rodgers on the sidelines, they could open up a two-game division lead with just six games left. If Rodgers can find his form, the Pack could reassert itself as the team to beat in the North, if not the entire NFC.

The Bengals & Cardinals Both Have Something to Prove
Cincinnati Bengals v Arizona Cardinals
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Cincinnati at Arizona | U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC

It’s hard to grasp Sunday night’s Bengals-Cardinals game as a potential Super Bowl preview, but that’s exactly what it is. Other than their terrible hiccup last Monday against Houston, Cincinnati (8-1) has been arguably the NFL’s best team in 2015. Quarterback Andy Dalton must recover from his middling MNF performance and show that the Bengals are a legitimate title contender. Arizona (7-2) neatly vanquished the Seahawks last Sunday after blowing a big lead, but the Cardinals were cruising last year when quarterback Carson Palmer went down and took the team’s postseason hopes with him. It’s Palmer’s second time facing his former team, and he undoubtedly wants to stick it to them. This could be the most entertaining game of the week.

Monday, November 23

The Bills Get Another Shot at the Patriots
New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills
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Buffalo at New England | Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN

Tom Brady and the Patriots clobbered Rex Ryan and the Bills, 40-32, in Week 2, but Buffalo (5-4) gets another shot at New England (9-0) on Monday. Ryan insists that the AFC East race is over, and he’s probably right. However, the Bills do need to add wins to ensure they’ll remain the AFC’s second wild card team. The trio of quarterback Tyrod Taylor, running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver Sammy Watkins should allow Buffalo to stay with the Pats potent offense, especially now that receiver Julian Edelman is out with a broken foot. Could we see an unbeaten team fall on Monday night for the second straight week? Stay tuned.

Other Games

Thursday, November 19
Tennessee at Jacksonville | EverBank Field, Jacksonville: 8:25 p.m. (ET) on NFL Network

Sunday, November 22
Tampa Bay at Philadelphia | Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Oakland at Detroit | Ford Field, Detroit; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
N.Y. Jets at Houston | NRG Stadium, Houston; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
St. Louis at Baltimore | M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Indianapolis at Atlanta | Georgia Dome, Atlanta; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Washington at Carolina | Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Kansas City at San Diego | Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego; 4:05 p.m. (ET) on CBS
San Francisco at Seattle | CenturyLink Field, Seattle; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on Fox

Bye Week: Cleveland, New Orleans, N.Y. Giants, Pittsburgh

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