NFL Week 11 Preview: Tony Romo Returns … to the Sideline
NFL playoff races are starting to take shape. Here’s a preview of what to expect in Week 11 of the 2016 season:
Sunday, November 20
The Cardinals-Vikings Game Is Crucial
Arizona at Minnesota | U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Both the Cardinals and the Vikings had NFC title aspirations coming into this season, but injuries and inconsistent play have made their postseason plans far from certain. Arizona (4–4–1) has won several close games that should have been laughers. They’ll need Carson Palmer & Co. to bring their best offense against the reeling Minnesota (5–4) defense.
The Vikings have lost four games in a row after a 5–0 start. While the defense has become more vulnerable, the real culprit is the sagging offensive line that can’t seem to protect quarterback Sam Bradford or get a running game established. That might not get easier against the aggressive Cardinals front, which ranks eighth in the league in sacks. Sorry, Sam: things aren’t getting better soon.
No One Cares That Tony Romo Is Back Because Dak & Zeek
Baltimore at Dallas | AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Tex.; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
The Cowboys have raced their way to the NFL’s best record on the legs of rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, who already has 1,005 yards rushing. Dallas (8–1) has the NFL’s best run attack, averaging 161 yards per game. If any team can force the Cowboys to pass, it’s Baltimore (5–4). The AFC North-leading Ravens allow just over 71 yards per game on the ground — the NFL’s best run defense.
If Baltimore can neutralize Elliott, Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott will be called on to throw against the NFL’s top-ranked overall defense. Amazingly enough, franchise quarterback Tony Romo will return from injury to hold a clipboard for Prescott on the sidelines. Some Dallas fans may have felt this way for years, but if Romo gets into the game, it could be a bad sign for the Cowboys.
Is Seattle the NFC’s Best Team?
Philadelphia at Seattle | CenturyLink Field, Seattle; 4:25 p.m. on CBS
Sure, the Cowboys may have the NFL’s best record, but the Seahawks have looked better than any other NFL team over the past two weeks. Seattle (6–2–1) and quarterback Russell Wilson have looked invigorated in victories over the Bills and the Patriots. The Seahawks defense isn’t as intimidating as it was in their Super Bowl years, but it can still shut down an offense to close out a game, as it has done in the past two wins.
Philadelphia (5–4) kept its season from falling into the abyss with last week’s victory over Atlanta. The Eagles defense is tied for sixth in the league with 25 sacks. It will need to put pressure on Wilson and keep him from making the plays that seemingly only he and Keanu Reeves in ’The Matrix’ can make. Philly fans hope that rookie quarterback Carson Wentz continues to earn their trust as The Chosen One. He’ll face a Seahawks secondary that can change momentum in a hurry.
Mike McCarthy Is Under the Microscope
Green Bay at Washington | FedEx Field, Landover, Md.; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC
The Packers really aren’t having any fun. Green Bay (4–5) has lost three consecutive games and could be headed to a fourth straight defeat when they travel to face Washington (5–3–1). The Pack seems to have enough talent to win, but they have underachieved under Mike McCarthy over the past several seasons.
After long adoring quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay juggernaut in the NFC North, the press corps is now starting to take McCarthy to task for game mismanagement and the team’s chronic habit of falling behind to start games. Rodgers and his teammates have rallied around their coach in the media, but it would be better if they did it on the field. If this losing streak continues, the Packers could be playing for someone else next season.
Monday, November 21
Maybe the Raiders Should Move to Mexico
Houston at Oakland | Estadio Azteca, Mexico City; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Oh, those cheeky Raiders! Oakland … Los Angeles … Oakland … San Antonio … Las Vegas .. Mexico City? Why not? Sooner or later, an NFL team will take up residence outside the U.S. borders. What better ambassadors of modern American sports culture are there than the Raiders and their fans? Let that settle. Maybe this Monday’s game across the border will lead to in-depth U.S.- Mexico talks. Maybe not.
With the blend of young talent including Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Latavius Murray, Oakland (7–2) is fun to watch no matter where they call home. The Raiders will be tested by Houston (6–3), which leads the AFC South and boasts the league’s fourth-best defense. The Texans must control the clock and protect Brock Osweiler, who was downright statuesque against Oakland while he was with the Broncos last season.
Thursday, November 17
New Orleans at Carolina | Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte; 8:25 p.m. (ET) on NBC
Sunday, November 20
Pittsburgh at Cleveland | FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Jacksonville at Detroit | Ford Field, Detroit; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Tennessee at Indianapolis | Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Buffalo at Cincinnati | Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Tampa Bay at Kansas City | Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Chicago at N.Y. Giants | MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Miami at Los Angeles | Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles; 4:05 p.m. (ET) on Fox
New England at San Francisco | Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Atlanta, Denver, N.Y. Jets, San Diego