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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, October 15, 2016 at 12:00 AM



So, what’s going on here, NFL?

Your two Super Bowl teams from a year ago – the champion Denver Broncos and the runner-up Carolina – have combined to lose their last five games (the Panthers enter Sunday’s tilt at New Orleans without a “W” since Sept. 18th!) and there’s a growing sense that teams such as the Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys could indeed be “for real”.

All makes for an uber-interesting NFL Week 6 menu that features a handful of 4-1 SU (straight-up) teams in action but with the 5-and-oh Minnesota Vikings sitting it out on their bye week.

And now hear this…

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On Sunday, it’s…

ATLANTA (4-1) at SEATTLE (3-1) – 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

Let’s see if last week’s bye really helped Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson (1,064 yards passing with 5 TD chucks) get rehabbed from early-season ankle/knee woes and one major task here is to challenge the Falcons’ deep secondary that can be toasted.

Okay, so the “real story” here though is Atlanta’s major rise to the top of the otherwise beleaguered NFC South but can QB Matt Ryan (1,740 yards passing with 12 TDs and 2 INTs) stay on fire with fav target WR Julio Jones (yes, we know that 300-yard receiving game was two weeks ago)?

Spread Notes – Seattle is 36-18-1 ATS (against the spread) at home since the start of the 2010 season while Atlanta’s covered four in a row this year and the Falcons are an electric 9-2 ATS as underdogs the past year-plus.

On Sunday Night, it’s …

INDIANAPOLIS (2-3) at HOUSTON (3-2) – 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC

The Las Vegas oddsmakers have the host Texans a mere 3-point betting favorite for this under-the-lights clash – isn’t that a wee bit “short”? Fact is Houston remains without pass-rushing whiz J.J. Watt and “new” QB Brock Osweiler has been a bit erratic lately with just 19-of-42 completions and four sacks against albeit the great Minnesota defense a week ago. If Osweiler doesn’t pull off some big “vertical pass plays” here with rookie WR Will Fuller, than the Colts likely sneak out of town with the win providing QB Andrew Luck doesn’t get sacked another five-or-more times.

Spread Notes – Indianapolis is 7-3-1 versus the vig in its last 11 showdowns against Houston; meanwhile, the Texans have covered six of their last seven AFC South games dating back to the start of last year.


The National League Championship Series gets underway on Saturday night… and here’s some observations/predictions:

LOS ANGELES DODGERS vs. CHICAGO CUBS – No surprise that the Cubs are a heavy-hitting – 210 betting favorite for this NLCS clash (Dodgers take back + 175, in case you’re wondering) and naturally all the talk is about what this Los Angeles pitching situation is gonna look like after LHP Clayton Kershaw came out of the bullpen to get the final two outs in Thursday’s thrilling-if-way-too-long 4-3 win against Washington and after closer Kenley Jansen threw 51 pitches in that NLDS Game 5.

The Cubs – flat out – need to win both Game 1 and Game 2 at beloved Wrigley Field behind LHP Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks or this could get sticky for Joe Maddon’s squad but here’s two off-the-beaten-path items to watch for:

Can the Cubs tighten up a defense that committed five errors in that four-game series win against San Francisco and is there a Dodgers’ bat that could come alive here namely SS Kyle Seager who whacked a couple of first-inning dingers against the Nats but otherwise was silenced and never made many plate adjustments?

Cubs in five seems to be the prevailing thought but if LA can win either Game 1 or Game 2, well things could get hairy.

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