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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, October 31, 2016 at 12:00 AM



Trick or treat?

Well, it all depends on what side you were rooting for in NFL Week 8 action yesterday/last night:

If you are a big fan of “America’s Team” – a/k/a the Dallas Cowboys – than it was some dandy night-before-Halloween treat as the ‘Boys topped the gritty 5-point underdog Philadelphia Eagles 29-23 in Sunday Night Football… the only time save for an early/brief 10-3 lead that Dallas was covering the Las Vegas pointspread.

If you’re a fan of the aforementioned Eagles or perhaps the Seattle Seahawks, than their Sunday setbacks were a really mean trick dealt out by the football gods.

The fact of the matter is the Eagles and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were punched-in-the-gut OT losers on this final Sunday in October and – despite landing the all-important pointspread “W” – no doubt you Green Bay cheeseheads are hurtin’ today too after that wild 33-32 loss in Atlanta.

Hey, we’re a week-plus out from the presidential election and pardon us for wanting to put a “positive spin” on things – what, you think Hillary and Donald haven’t worn everyone out with all the negative blabbery? – but we’re gonna focus on those two teams that are “making the NFL great again” after decades of mediocrity:

DALLAS 29, PHILADELPHIA 23 (OT) – No question that this wasn’t always the smoothest performance by Cowboys’ rookie QB Dak Prescott but gotta say he sure knew what to do once his club won the overtime coin flip! Prescott’s game-winning 5-yard touchdown toss to wide-open TE Jason Witten wound up doing the following:

It gave the ‘Boys a 6-1 SU (straight-up) mark and a two-game lead in the NFC East standings over both Philly and the idle New York Giants – and it also gave Dallas a sixth consecutive pointspread win making Jason Garrett’s club the “best bet” in the league for now (Minnesota can go to 6-1 against the odds tonight in Chicago).

On a night when Prescott (287 passing yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT) make some dubious decisions and when fellow rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott didn’t crash the 100-yard rushing mark (96 ground yards on 22 carries), the Cowboys managed to squeeze out a win/cover – wonder if owner Jerry Jones has requested his Super Bowl tickets yet!

OAKLAND 30, TAMPA BAY 24 (OT) – Say this about the silver-and-black: They sure love life on the road! The Raiders’ latest road conquest – accomplished thanks in large part to QB Derek Carr’s 513 passing yards with 4 TDs and WR Amari Cooper’s 173 yards receiving on a dozen receptions – gave Jack Del Rio’s crew a perfect 5-and-oh ATS (against the spread) away mark this year and that’s really something when you consider that Oakland has played four of these road affairs in the Eastern time zone and one of ‘em in the Central time zone. Carr’s pitch-and-catch game had a happy ending when generally unknown WR Seth Roberts evaded a Bucs’ sandwich and scored on a 41-yard game-winning TD in the extra session and that came only after veteran PK Sebastian Janikowski missed two long field goals (at the end of regulation and then early in OT).

See, so even when things don’t go great for the Raiders, they still figure how out to win a game and forgive for salivating about this Sunday Night’s home game against the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.

And now hear this …

Jim Hurley’s Handicappers and Bloggers have everything all scoped out and you can get tonight’s Side & Totals winners of the Monday Night Football showdown between the Minnesota Vikings at the Chicago Bears plus.  Get Jim's Best Bet Hotline Picks at and his exclusive Blue Ribbon Picks right here online at or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-888-777-4155 after 1p.m. ET on week days and any time after 10a.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday and remember to get all the NCAA Football (Remember, there''s now College Games on Tuesday-thru-Saturday!), NFL Week 9 and his Cashline and Blue Ribbon Basketball Clubs for NBA Winners all week long! And don''t miss getting all the the Major League Baseball winners through the end of the World Series! So – go ahead and start November off with a big bang!

Tonight, it’s…

MINNESOTA (5-1) at CHICAGO (1-6) – 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Now that the Vikings have been forced to live with a loss for the past eight days (see Philadelphia 21, Minnesota 10 in Week 7) you get the sense that fiery head coach Mike Zimmer is gonna bust a gasket… the dude was furious following last week’s game and you get the feeling his turnover-minded defense will be coming after rehabbed QB Jay Cutler with a mean vengeance. Cutler – who hasn’t played since spraining ligaments in his passing thumb back in Week 2 – had his sarcastic say with Bears’ boss John Fox (he basically told the media that the head coach has no choice but to play ‘em here after Brian Hoyer broke his arm 10 days ago in Green Bay) but Cutler may have to zip his lip if the Vikes turn it up full throttle on “D” here.

Spread Notes – Minnesota has covered six of its last seven divisional duels dating back to the start of last season while Chicago is a rotten 1-6 versus the vig this year and 2-10 against the odds overall since late last year.


Here’s a Halloween nugget to the Big 12 … your champion can start planning a bowl trip to somewhere other than Atlanta or Glendale ‘cause the 10-team Big 12 won’t have any representation in this year’s College Football Playoffs!

Yes, we realize that the first rankings come out tomorrow night on ESPN but – following weekend losses by both Baylor and West Virginia – right now the highest Associated Press ranking goes to #12 Oklahoma and the two-loss Sooners have zero chance of playing in the four-team playoffs.

On a college football weekend in which Michigan, Clemson and Washington all “held serve” and showed true grit in their road wins, the Big 12 had its bubble burst for good and so, of course, the alarm goes out: Will we wind up getting two Big 10 teams or perhaps two ACC teams in the playoff mix?

Gut feeling as we head into tomorrow’s maiden announcement is that the committee folks will rank ‘em like this:

  • Alabama will be No. 1;
  • Michigan will be No. 2;
  • Washington will be No. 3;

And Clemson will be No. 4 with Ohio State and Louisville lurking close behind.

Want a prediction?

There’s always a team that makes a major march from early November to early December (see Michigan State last year, Ohio State the year before) and right now we’ll forecast Florida as a “team to watch”.

True, the Gators (now 6-1 after besting 6.5-point dog Georgia 24-10 last Saturday) may not knock anyone’s socks off if they win at Arkansas this weekend followed by a home game against South Carolina but if the Gainesville gang can win that “make-up” game at LSU on Nov. 19th (and one or two of the top five teams lose during the next three weeks), than Florida could wind up being in the top four while heading into the SEC Championship Game in December.

NOTE: Catch tomorrow’s Jim Sez with NFL updates, a World Series Game 6 report … and more!

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