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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, September 12, 2011 at 10:40 AM

Can we ask you just one question here: Is it at all possible for an NFL team to suffer a season-wrecking loss in Week 1?

Anyone that tuned in Sunday Night for the New York Jets’ dramatic come-from-behind 27-24 non-cover win against the 6 ½-point underdog Dallas Cowboys knows that easily qualified as “one that got away” from a Pokes standpoint and be aware that there are not exactly any gimme wins for Jerry Jones’ bunch in the next few weeks – there’s a road game in San Francisco this Sunday followed by back-to-back home games against Washington and Detroit – yes, two of the NFL’s more improved teams based on their respective Week #1 wins against the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Bucs.

You gotta believe that the Cowboys will be replaying in their heads – over and over and over again -- the game’s final quarter when the J-E-T-S outscored Dallas 17-7 and go ahead and take your pick as to what was the single-most devastating play in that frame … was it QB Tony Romo’s lost fumble near the goal line six minutes into the fourth quarter when Dallas than was looking for a two-TD lead or perhaps that blocked punt returned for a Jets touchdown or maybe it was Romo’s ill-advised pass that was intercepted near mid-field by all-world CB Darrelle Revis and brought back 20 yards thus setting up PK Nick Folk’s game-winning 50-yard field goal with just 27 seconds.

Hey, the likes of the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs were beaten in Week #1 games the “experts” said they’d win but it was this under-the-lights loss by the Cowboys that makes for all the juicy headlines on this first week of NFL play – now we’re just wondering if the ‘Boys can recover anytime soon.

We’ll get to the Monday Night Football Previews in just a moment but first this key reminder: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers plan on winning plenty this NFL and College Football season and so please make sure you’re all aboard for all the action and that means getting in on this evening’s Monday Night Football twin-bill – that’s the New England Patriots at the Miami Dolphins and the Oakland Raiders at the Denver Broncos (of course). Let us take you right thru the BCS National Championship Game in January and Super Bowl 46 in early February. It’s gonna be a great ride!

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No doubt you’ve seen the Las Vegas betting line for this AFC East clash go from Pats minus 4 points to minus 7 ½ points – it’s worth noting that New England has beaten Miami by 8-or-more points seven times in their last 10 head-to-head matchups plus conventional wisdom seems to say that New quarterback Tom Brady has to be – minimum – 10-to-15 points “better” than Miami slinger Chad Henne, right?

All kidding aside, the Pats proved this past lockout-interrupted off-season that they were an example of the rich-getting-richer with the additions of WR Chad Ochocinco and DT Albert Haynesworth but the singular key here can a Dolphins ground game that ranked a lowly 21st in the league last year (see 102.7 yards a game) keep Mr. Brady and friends off the field much of this night? Simply put, if the Fish do not win the time of possession stat by a wide margin, than that 7 ½-point price might actually look cheap!

Spread Notes – Believe it or not, New England is 4-5-1 ATS (against the spread) in its last 10 season-opening games dating back to 2001 and that includes last year’s 38-24 win against 5-point road underdog Cincinnati. Overall, the Patriots are 40-24 versus the vig in all AFC East games the past 10 years and they’re a neat 16-8 spreadwise away since the start of the 2008 campaign. Meanwhile, Miami covered six of its eight games last year when placed in the underdog role but the Dolphins are a shoddy 2-5-1 ATS in season-opening games the past eight years.

OAKLAND at DENVER – 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Part II of this season-opening Monday Night Game twin-bill is a showdown of hated AFC West rivals but keep in mind nobody ruled the west last year quite like these Oakland Raiders: Not only did Oakland sweep through the troika of Denver/Kansas City/San Diego from a SU (straight-up) standpoint but they covered all the bets against these rivals too and yet this game has seen a real wagering shift – it was pick ‘em as an opening line and it’s gradually gone to Denver being as much as a 3 ½-point favorite. Hmmm.

Consider that last year the Raiders pasted the host Broncos 59-14 – it was indeed the highest-scoring game in franchise history – and now their rookie head coach Hue Jackson hopes just half that many points here will be enough to get his debut off to a great start and all eyes will be on RB Darren McFadden who comes off a 1,157-yard rushing season and note the four TD runs at Denver in that one-sided win.

Meanwhile, now that everyone knows QB Kyle Orton and not Tim Tebow will be the one pulling the trigger for the Broncos this year, the question is whether underrated WR Brandon Lloyd (NFL-best 1,448 yards receiving last year) can make hay on some quick-hitter strikes against a Raiders defense that no longer has CB Nnamdi Asomugha on its side.

Spread Notes – Oakland notched pointspread wins in each of its six AFC West games a year ago and it’s worth noting that the Raiders are a collective 10-2 ATS versus divisional rivals the past couple of years. However, the silver-and-black has failed to cover their season-opening game in five of the past six years and that includes last year’s lopsided 38-13 setback at 6 ½-point fav Tennessee. On the flip side, Denver is a crummy 2-8 vig-wise in its last 10 head-to-head battles with Oakland and the Broncos are a collective 8-21-1 ATS in divisional affairs the five seasons.


Let’s touch on a couple of quick-hitter topics today as we put a bow on the just-completed College Football weekend:
Note that NCAA Football Betting Favorites registered a 23-22 ATS mark for the games of Sept. 8-10 and so that brings the season-long record to Favorites 42 and Underdogs 41 with two “no plays” – that’s the opening-win weather-shortened tilts between Western Michigan at Michigan and Marshall versus West Virginia.

Note that the single-biggest upset on this past weekend’s card was Mew Mexico State’s whopping 28-21 triumph over 22 ½-point home favorite Minnesota – yes, just another example of a College Football team not being able to emotionally recover from playing all-out the prior week (see USC 19, Minnesota 17 on Labor Day weekend in Los Angeles) -- and note other outright winners of 3-or-more points included Florida International (+ 3) over Louisville last Friday night along with Iowa State (+ 6 ½) over Iowa (in three OTs), Auburn (+ 5) over Mississippi State, Kansas (+ 5 ½) over Northern Illinois, Marshall (+ 8) over Southern Miss and, of course, there was Michigan (+ 3 ½) over Notre Dame.

If you’re looking for the Best Coaching Job of the Weekend, how ‘bout we nominate Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe – hey, think it was easy getting his Demon Deacons back on the beam after that crushing 36-29 overtime loss at Syracuse two Thursdays ago?
Grobe knew that if Wake Forest was serious about getting back to a post-season bowl game this year after a two-year absence from the bowl madness than beating one-point road favorite N.C. State was a “must” and the Deacons responded with QB Tanner Price (who was kayoed in the second half of that brutal loss at the Carrier Dome) shining brightly as he threw for 297 yards and a score in the major bounce-back win.

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