Thursday, December 04, 2008
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Is Romo the answer? Cowboys will find out

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[December 04, 2008]  LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Dallas Cowboys will get a better idea Sunday what Tony Romo's return from a broken pinkie has done for their Super Bowl hopes.

DonutsAfter beating the 49ers and Seahawks at home, Dallas goes to Pittsburgh for a game against a team it could face again if all goes right -- all going right meaning in the Super Bowl.

But that's a long distance away, especially with Romo's injury and assorted other problems having ended any real chance Dallas will overtake the Giants in the NFC East. Pittsburgh's chances of getting to Tampa are more realistic, its 33-10 destruction of New England establishing the Steelers as perhaps the AFC's best team.

"It was unbelievable," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said after the Steelers' defense and special teams forced turnovers on five straight possessions. "You get to the sidelines, put your coat on, your hat on and, all of a sudden, you're ready to go back on the field."

The Steelers are favored by three points, which means the sides are essentially even, the Steelers getting the home-field edge from the oddsmakers.

Here's one point of comparison:

The Giants played the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Oct. 26. New York won 21-14 after James Harrison subbed as the long snapper and misfired, the ball going out of the end zone for the tying points. Then New York took the ensuing free kick and drove for the winning TD.

The Giants sacked Roethlisberger five times and intercepted him four times in that game.

If the Cowboys do anything similar -- and the Steelers' offensive line is a weak spot -- they will win.

But they will lose if while dodging Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, Romo does something untoward. Which is likely to happen on the splotchy turf at Heinz Field.



Tampa Bay (plus 3) at Carolina (Monday night)

The winner takes over first place in the NFC South. The Bucs, who won 27-3 in Tampa, would get a bigger lead because they will have the tiebreaker. But ...



Atlanta (plus 3) at New Orleans

Atlanta has more incentive, which at this time of year is important.

FALCONS, 29-28


Philadelphia (plus 7 1/2) at New York Giants

The Giants can clinch a bunch of things by winning. They also are adept at turning negatives like the Plaxico mess into motivation.

GIANTS, 34-16


Oakland (plus 10) at San Diego (Thursday night)

The spread reflects how these teams are supposed to be. Right now, they're closer than that.



Washington (off) at Baltimore

The "off" is for RB Clinton Portis' health. In any case, the Redskins won't move the ball much.

RAVENS, 14-9


Kansas City (plus 9) at Denver

The Broncos, who can clinch the AFC West with a win, lost in Kansas City. Denver is a strange team, but ...

BRONCOS, 27-20


New York Jets (minus 4) at San Francisco

Another slip-up by the Jets is unlikely.

JETS, 23-13


[to top of second column]

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New England (minus 5) at Seattle

The Seahawks comport themselves better at home.



St. Louis (plus 13 1/2) at Arizona

After two unsuccessful go-rounds with the NFC East, the Cardinals wrap up their own (easier) division.



Miami (plus 1) "at" Buffalo (Toronto)

If the Dolphins win their final four, they win the AFC East. Unlikely, but they can win this game.



Indianapolis (minus 13 1/2) at Cincinnati

The Colts' five straight wins are by a TOTAL of 20 points. The Bengals are the Bengals, but ...

COLTS, 20-13


Houston (plus 6 1/2) at Green Bay

Are the Packers finished?

PACKERS, 31-30


Cleveland (plus 13 1/2) at Tennessee

The Titans continue to recover against the banged-up and demoralized Browns.

TITANS, 27-10


Jacksonville (plus 7) at Chicago

The Jaguars are packing it in. The Bears are desperate.

BEARS, 22-6



Minnesota (minus 9 1/2) at Detroit

On to 0-16



LAST WEEK: 7-9 (spread); 10-6 (straight up)

SEASON: 94-94-4 (spread); 117-74-1(straight up)

[Associated Press; By DAVE GOLDBERG]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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