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Cowboys News & Notes: Cowboys Can Still Be Playoff Party Crashers With Tony Romo

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Latest Cowboys headlines: Tony Romo will throw four TDs in win; Cowboys can still crash the NFL playoffs; Tony Romo looks like his old self.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bold predictions: Tony Romo will throw four TDs in win - Marc Sessler, NFL.com
Tony Romo will put in a performance for the ages upon his return to the Cowboys on Sunday, writes Sessler.

Back in the lineup for the first time since Week 2, Tony Romo won't need much time to heat up against the Dolphins on Sunday. I'm ticketing the Cowboys quarterback for four touchdowns against Miami's defense. Since 1990, no team has made the playoffs after starting 2-7. Dallas will begin their nearly impossible quest with a victory thanks to their beloved star passer.

Tony Romo can still lead the Cowboys to the playoffs - James Brady, SBNation.com
Tony Romo is coming back to a 2-7 Cowboys team, but they still have a chance at winning the division, Brady explains.

Dallas has tough games against the Panthers and Green Bay Packers left on the schedule, and potentially tough matchups against the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets. Losing to teams like the Buccaneers and Saints definitely hurt their chances. But the biggest thing to note is that yes, the Cowboys are still in the running despite their record.

Romo, for his part, seems more than ready to play, recently Tweeting out video of a scene from Major League, in which Jake Taylor says there's only one thing left to do: "Win the whole f****ing thing."

Ten teams that can still crash the NFL playoffs - Bill Barnwell, ESPN
Bill Barnwell runs down his list of "Top 10 Playoff Crashers" and while he acknowledges the long odds facing Jerry Jones' team he does have the Cowboys on the list.

It's almost impossible for any sort of model to account for just how dramatically a team drops off when it replaces arguably the league's best quarterback from 2014 (Romo) with replacement-level fodder like Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel. As somebody who was skeptical of the Cardinals' chances this year, I know how that model feels. And thankfully for Cowboys fans, Romo is back to face the Dolphins this week.

Unfortunately, the Cowboys may be too far buried to surface in time for the playoffs. If Dallas had won even a single game while Romo was out, the Cowboys would still be in striking distance in the NFC East. Instead, they're 2½ games behind the Giants. Worse? They face the league's second-toughest schedule over the remainder of the season, including games against the Dolphins, Packers, Bills and Jets.

Cowboys hope Romo's return will prompt turnaround at Miami | Steven Wine, Charlotte News & Observer
The Miami defense has struggled against the pass, and Romo anywhere close to 2014 could be bad news for the Dolphins.

Despite the many so-so passers they've faced, they're allowing 12.6 yards per completion, fifth worst in the NFL. Since Week 2 of 2014, the Cowboys are 15-3 when Romo starts and 0-8 when he doesn't.

"Every quarterback plays his best against us," cornerback Brice McCain said. "That's just how it goes."

Tony Romo looks like his old self | Jon Machota, SportsDay
In his weekly Ranch Roundup, Machota touches on 10 things that may not have made it into the regular reporting cycle. One of them is how Romo has looked in practice this week.

"Looks like the guy we remember," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said Thursday. "He's been staying in really good shape and making sure there's not anything that's bothering him as far as throwing the football. The great thing is that it's the other shoulder so there is really not any impingement or anything like that. To see him out there throwing and cutting the ball loose and looking like his old self, that's good to see."

NFL Week 11 Game Rankings: Tony Romo For MVP? - Jason La Canfora, CBSSports.com
La Canfora with some slightly premature thoughts on Romo and the MVP title.

If the Cowboys do manage to like run the table, and reach the playoffs, could Romo get the MVP award? He'd probably end up at least in my top three if he pulls this off. Would be very difficult to argue the man would be more valuable given the abyss of losses, controversy and lack of leadership the Cowboys fell into in the two months between his starts.

'Boys activate Tony Romo; expected to start Sunday - Kevin Patra, NFL.com
It was nothing more than a formality, but the Cowboys officially activated Tony Romo off short-term IR yesterday.

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The journey that led Jason Witten to 1,000 catches and what the Cowboys TE calls 'the greatest joy' in his career | David Moore, SportsDay
Terrific longform piece by Moore explaining what makes Jason Witten "The Senator", including a look at Witten's signature route.

The majority of Witten's receptions come on a 10-yard hook route. It's called the Y-option.

"It allows him to go up and do whatever he wants,'' Romo said. "He has great instincts. He's probably the best who has ever run that route, and I don't think there's really a question about that.

"At the same time, he sees what the quarterback sees in the pre-snap and post-snap alignments, and just about nobody does all of that.''

Witten doesn't just put himself in his cleats. He puts himself in the quarterback's cleats. Linehan marvels at the extensive route tree the tight end handles, calling him "the best at it I've been around.''

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Widespread QB injuries have shaped 2015 - Judy Battista, NFL.com
A plethora of teams have been forced to turn to backup QBs because of injuries. Judy Battista studies this NFL epidemic and how it's affected the standings. The article has a very specific blueprint that the Cowboys would be well advised to follow in 2016:

Until he missed the entire 2011 season in Indianapolis, [Peyton] Manning had missed exactly one snap in his pro career due to injury -- a broken jaw -- affording then-Colts president Bill Polian the luxury of essentially ignoring the backup role for years. After Manning was hurt -- and the Colts collapsed to a 2-14 record with Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins -- Polian, who had by then been fired, told Bengals coach Marvin Lewis that he would still be in the Colts' front office and not working on television if he had only drafted Andy Dalton to be Manning's backup in the spring of 2011.

That cautionary tale is one reason why current Colts general manager Ryan Grigson was so intent on finding an experienced and capable backup for Luck. Grigson was fortunate to lure Hasselbeck to be Luck's backup.

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'Unique deal' connecting members of the Highland Park football teams to the Dallas Cowboys | Rhiannon Walker, SportsDay
WR Coach Derek Dooley, OC Scott Linehan, Stephen Jones, and Charlotte Jones Anderson all have sons playing football at Highland Park high school in Dallas. This article lets each parent say something about their kids and their football activities.

Panthers burn Redskins on Twitter with trademark joke - CBSSports.com
After Washington's team plane landed in North Carolina, the Redskins immediately sent out a tweet claiming the land as their own: Carolina is #Redskins country.

The Panthers wasted no time burning the Redskins with their reply: @Redskins Good luck with getting a trademark on that

Hilarity ensued in the social networks.

Complete history of the NFL's dumb catch rule confusing people - SBNation.com
Figuring what is and isn't a catch has been a problem for NFL officials for several years now, and it's no help that the NFL guy in charge of officiating, Dean Blandino, is a video jockey technocrat who is in charge of 17 officiating crews, yet he's never reffed a game in his life.

In a season in which commissioner Roger Goodell has largely gone underground, Blandino has been one of the most visible faces of the league office. And while Blandino, with a background in communications, can sweettalk audiences through every officiating decision, the confusion continues to mount, as this article Adam Sites succinctly explains.