AFC North and NFL Roundup: Week of Dec. 3-7

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Friday, Dec. 7

Tomlin Names Roethlisberger Starter
The Steelers will get starting quarterback Ben Roethilisberger back in the lineup this weekend against the Chargers. Roethlisberger has missed the last three weeks with shoulder and rib injuries, and the Steelers went 1-2 during that stretch.  [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Hillis Fires Back At Thomas
Former Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis fired back at Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, comparing him to a "crazy ex-girlfriend." Thomas criticized Hillis for not playing hard in his final year with the Browns, and Hillis responded with his own criticism for Thoams. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Bengals Cut Center Faine 
The Bengals have released veteran center Jeff Faine, who has been struggling recently. The 10-year veteran was signed just before the start of the season when starter Kyle Cook went down with an ankle injury. Faine started the first seven games, but he has struggled recently. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

Broncos Keep Rolling With Win Over Oakland *
The Denver Broncos continued their tear through the AFC with a win Thursday night over the Oakland Raiders. The Broncos have now won eight straight games and improved to 10-3 on the season. Quarterback Peyton Manning is a leading candidate in the MVP race and is on pace for a career season.  [SI.com] *
Wednesday, Dec. 5

Roethlisbger Could Return To Action Sunday
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has missed the last three weeks with rib and shoulder injuries, but he could possibly return for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers. Roethlisberger will practice today and Head Coach Mike Tomlin said, "We'll see what it looked like on the football field." [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Pluto: Replacing Heckert With Lombardi Not Smart
The Cleveland Browns could be making a change at General Manager this offseason, but Plain Dealer columnist Terry Pluto says that replacing current GM Tom Heckert with NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi is not the right call. Lombardi has been rumored to be a candidate if Heckert is fired. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Bengals Preparing To Face Cowboys 
The Cincinnati Bengals have won four straight games and are looking to stay in the AFC playoff picture with a win this Sunday over the Dallas Cowboys.  But the Cowboys are also in the midst of a playoff hunt, and quarterback Tony Romo has been hot in recent weeks to keep the Cowboys in contention. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

Sanchez To Remain Jets Starter *
The New York Jets benched quarterback Mark Sanchez last week against Arizona, but the plan is for him to remain the team's top quarterback this Sunday at Jacksonville. Sanchez will start ahead of Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy. [SI.com] *
Tuesday, Dec. 4

Does This Year Resemble 2005 For Steelers?
The last time the Steelers were 7-5, they went on to win eight straight games, including the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh is riding the momentum of Sunday's 23-20 upset over the Ravens, and some of the veterans on the team drew comparisons to the 2005 championship team. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Shurmur On Job Security: Let It Play Out
The Cleveland Browns have won four of their last seven games to improve to 4-8, and a popular question around Cleveland is whether Head Coach Pat Shurmur and General Manager Tom Heckert will be around next season under the new ownership. Shurmur said right now that the focus is to play out the season and see what happens.  [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Bengals Defense Takes Step Back 
The Cincinnati Bengals defense has been playing at a high level recently, but Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer was not pleased in assessing how his unit fared against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. "We could play a lot better," Zimmer said. "We were very undisciplined in a lot of areas. We didn't do things as well as we had been the last three weeks." [Cincinnati Enquirer]

RGIII Rallies Redskins To Beat Giants *
Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III made his Monday Night Football debut and he led the Redskkins to a 17-16 over the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. RGIII has led Washington to three straight victories and the Redskins are now in the thick of the AFC East divisional race.  [SI.com] *
Monday, Dec. 3

Roethlisberger Was 'Absolutely Not' Cleared To Play
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was "absolutely not" cleared medically to play in Sunday's game against the Ravens, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. National reports indicated that Roethlisberger has received medical clearance, but a team source told the newspaper that those reports were inaccurate.  [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Browns Take Down Raiders 20-17
The Cleveland Browns won their second straight game on Sunday, taking down the Oakland Raiders 20-17. Quarterback Brandon Weeden led the Browns on a 14-play, 94-yard touchdown drive to give the Browns the comeback victory.  [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Bengals Top Chargers In San Diego 
The Cincinnati Bengals kept their playoff hopes alive with a 20-13 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. The Bengals won their force straight game after a fourth-quarter comeback to take down the Chargers and improve to 7-5 on the year. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

*Romo Sets Franchise TD Mark In Win *
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo broke Troy Aikman's franchise record for career touchdown passes in yesterday's 38-33 victory over the Eagles. Romo finished the day 22-of-27 for 303 yards and no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 150.5.  [SI.com]

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