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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, August 14, 2017 at 10:53 AM



The Dallas Cowboys can kick, scream and holler all they want - but second-year superstar running back Ezekiel Elliott is gonna be suspended for a batch of games (we still say it won't be six!) and the appeal/ruling could be coming down the pike any day this week or next week.

Still, that's apparently not the Cowboys' only problem as we dig into the middle of the month and get midway through this here-and-now NFL Preseason sked: The 'Boys muddled through a so-what 13-10 loss to the 2-point home underdog Los Angeles Rams last Saturday night and the offensive line appeared rather lifeless (Dallas rushed for 48 yards on the night and averaged a mere three yards a carry), the defense allowed yet another game-opening touchdown drive (just as it did in the Hall of Fame Game come-from-behind 20-18 win/push versus Arizona) and there didn't appear to be much snap in the Cowboys' overall play.

Sure, maybe the announcement of Elliott's six-game suspension some 36 hours or so prior to kickoff had its deleterious effect and we know these preseason/exhibition games don't mean much at all to the established teams, but still ...

Dallas head coach Jason Garrett would have loved to see some life in a game Elliott would not have played anyway - QB Dak Prescott, WR Dez Bryant and several other starters didn't suit up either - but will the Cowboys truly be able to survive a lengthy regular-season suspension from Elliott or is the sum of the parts on the rest of the team simply not good enough to deliver a big-time season (remember 13-win regular season for the Pokes last year)?

Jim Hurley is really getting ready to flex his muscles after a winning 4-3 opening week. The 2017 NFL Preseason continues to rock-n-roll with Week 2 action beginning on Thursday Night with three games - that's Buffalo at Philadelphia, Baltimore at Miami and Tampa Bay at Jacksonville (that's on ESPN) -- and then we'll have the remainder of NFL Preseason Week 2 Friday-thru-Monday Night, so make sure you're all aboard for Sides & Totals winners both here online and at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.

Note the College Football campaign swings into high gear on Saturday. August 26th with such tilts as Oregon State at Colorado State (on CBS Sports Network) and Stanford at Rice (on ESPN).
Hey, take note that Jim Hurley -- America's #1 Handicapper -- continues to bang out lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and, again, all you need to do for all the Football/Baseball winners is check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 on game day mornings/afternoons.

In other NFL Preseason Week 1 News/Notes ...

It's funny how the hand of fate works in the NFL: Just days after Jacksonville Jaguars' rookie RB Leonard Fournette (the draft's #4 overall pick) said he believed playing in the NFL would be "easy" - and hinting he thinks he could win the league's rushing title this year -- after a modest 9-carry/31-yard rushing/1-TD performance in a 31-24 win at New England, the former LSU stud injured a foot in practice. Okay, the Jags claim it's really nothing to worry about but they should have concerns based on Fournette's oft-checkered injury at LSU plus 'Ville WR Marqise Lee suffered what's being termed a "serious" knee injury as he was carted off the team's practice field. Lee had 63 receptions for 851 yards and three TDs last year and his role was about to expand this year ...

There's no Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco anymore (or anywhere else, for that matter) and so far the 49ers are less than thrilled with the work of new starting QB Brian Hoyer (see 1-of-4 passing for 3 yards in two offensive series in SF's 27-17 win at 4-point fav Kansas City).

Hoyer was handed the job by new Niners' head coach Kyle Shanahan who wound up playing Matt Barkley and then rookie C.J. Beathard (Iowa) after Hoyer's crummy stint - this "competition" could get interesting and maybe even a little bit ugly. But don't expect Kaepernick's cell phone to ring with a 415 or 628 area code anytime soon (that would be the Niners calling) ...

In Sunday's action, Indianapolis Colts owner Jimmy Irsay claims that starting QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) may miss the first week of regular-season play and - whatta surprise - the Colts were lost without 'em in the 24-10 home loss to Detroit. In all, Indianapolis had seven three-and-outs on offense and the Lions' defense registered five sacks against the no-name trio of quarterbacks Stephen Morris, Phillip Walker and Scott Tolzien ...

On Sunday night, 1-point road fav Seattle swamped the "brand-new" Los Angeles Chargers 48-17 as LA's newest team surrendered 459 yards to the Seahawks. New DC Gus Bradley - the former head coach in Jacksonville - who has more to work with than this, was pleased with first-teamers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram who pressured QB Russell Wilson in his only drive for a field goal.


Okay, time to pick right on up with our conference-by-conference "snapshots" and today it's the all-too-often underrated Mountain West Conference: Keep in mind that last year there were seven MWC teams that played in bowl games and that figure could increase should the likes of San Jose State or Nevada perk up their play and "steal" a road game or two.

What we can tell you is Boise State - an electric 50-16 SU (straight-up) the past five years - has a shot to be that fly-in-the-ointment non-Power 5 team that could be perfect after a dozen regular-season affairs and then the MWC Championship Game providing the revamped offensive line keeps QB Brett Rypien standing tall in the pocket.

BEST TEAM - Boise State
Gotta admit we need to see some improvement from the Broncos' defense that last year yielded 25-or-more points on seven different occasions but junior DT David Moa (8.5 sacks) might be a play-buster from the get-go and Rypien (3,646 yards passing with 24 TDs in 2016) could get some Heisman Trophy votes.

BEST PLAYER - Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
There are already some NFL draft boards that claim he'll go either #1 or #2 in next spring's draft - another 3,203 passing yards and 28 aerial TDs will keep the Cowboys in the hunt for a Mountain Division title.

BEST GAME - Wyoming at Boise State, Oct. 21
Last year the Pokes snagged a 30-28 win as two-TD home underdogs ... think the "R" word (as in revenge) will be used that week by Boise State boss-man Bryan Harsin?

HIDDEN STORY - Can Colorado State pump out another 10 wins ATS (against the spread)? Last year the CSU Rams finished 10-3 vig-wise and that included season-opening and season-ending pointspread defeats (to Colorado and Idaho, respectively).


 NOTE: More NFL Preseason News/Notes/Previews coming all week long in the next Jim Sez column!

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