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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, November 18, 2017 at 1:26 PM


'Twas the weekend before Thanksgiving and there's plenty of NFL "creatures" that are stirring - there's the New Orleans Saints (say what!) riding a seven-game SU (straight-up) winning streak and looking very much like a legit Super Bowl 52 contender and what about the born-again Los Angeles Rams who zoom into Sunday's high-profile tilt in Minnesota - yes, the site of the aforementioned upcoming Super Bowl - having won/covered four in a row (and five of their last six games).

Now, that's some serious "stirring", no?

If you'd like to look at things from the other end of the proverbial spectrum, then consider it a big weekend for the likes of the Indianapolis Colts, the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Jets: Okay, all of the above have their byes this Sunday but better be sure they would (or were) checking out the college football action on Saturday night between UCLA at USC as Bruins' QB Josh Rosen and Trojans' slinger Sam Darnold were gobbling up lots of national attention.

If you don't think these teams are thinking about these soon-to-be-NFL stars, you're wrong 'cause the Colts don't know when/if Andrew Luck will be right, the Niners may have Jimmy Garoppolo in the fold but that doesn't mean they are not still quarterback shopping and the J-E-T-S have been hunting for a "franchise" quarterback for the better part of the past 50 years.

Hey, if you're wondering what team faces a do-or-die Week 11 then may we suggest the Baltimore Ravens (4-5) who find themselves at Green Bay and also there's the 4-and-5 Arizona Cardinals who are opting for yet another different starting quarterback (see journeyman Blaine Gabbert) in their game in Houston.

Jim Hurley's Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have Football Winners - that's both the Sides & Totals -- all weekend long and don't forget there's a ton of Hoops too with the NBA and College Basketball in full bloom. Just check in with us here online or 1-800-323-4453 on game-days for all the winners!

In NFL Week 11 play on Sunday, it's ...

LOS ANGELES RAMS (7-2) at MINNESOTA (7-2) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
The Minnesota Vikings really had us scratching our heads earlier this week when they publicly floated the idea that they might start QB Teddy Bridgewater here instead of the red-hot Case Keenum ... okay, so cooler heads prevailed and Minny's going with Keenum who last week threw for 304 yards and four TDs in a wild 38-30 win at Washington. On the flip side, Rams' second-year QB Jared Goff (16 TDs and 4 INTs) has benefitted greatly from an upgraded O-line and solid wide receiver talent (see Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods) but gut feeling the key to this clash will be whether or not Rams' RB Todd Gurley can squeeze through some holes against the league's third-best rushing defense.\\

WASHINGTON (4-5) at NEW ORLEANS (7-2) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Here's a few pointspread ditties you might not know about when it comes to these soaring-hot Saints: The NFC South squad is a collective 17-8 ATS (against the spread) since the start of last season (a sweet .680 winning rate) and Sean Payton's crew has covered seven of its last nine games dating back to last year when in the role of the betting favorite. One thing you also should know about this N'Orleans crew: It has failed to cover its last four head-to-head showdowns with the 'Skins while tracing back to the 2008 season ... so there.

No doubt New Orleans - which hasn't won eight in a row SU since the end of the 2011 campaign - is a well-oiled machine these days with wins by 37 and 20 points the past two weeks and last Sunday it was the ground game that produced - get this - six rushing scores and you can expect a heavy dose of RBs Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara here although the real key to whether or not Washington "hangs in there" rests with 'Skins QB Kirk Cousins who loves the deep passing game and could find a chink in the armor of the Saints' still young secondary.

NEW ENGLAND (7-2) vs. OAKLAND (4-5) - 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS / at Mexico City
Once upon a time, the Oakland Raiders were considered the vogue pick to knock off the New England Patriots from the top perch in the AFC - but you don't hear that talk anymore. In fact, the Raiders have only won/covered once in their last seven games (see 31-30 prime-time stunner against Kansas City back in Week 7) and the silver-and-black never have put the pieces together just right with the offensive line playing well below expectations and the defense ranking a lowly 26th in the league.

Guess those are not good signs when your team is prepping for an international showdown against QB Tom Brady who has thrown for 2,807 yards with 19 TDs and 2 INTs - and here Brady figures to go "no huddle" a lot and test the Raiders' stamina in the high altitude of Mexico City (remember the Patriots practiced this past week in Colorado Springs following last week's win against Denver).

On Sunday Night, it's ...PHILADELPHIA (8-1) at DALLAS (5-4) - 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Loud-mouth Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been in the news all week long - and not all of it positive press - and now we'll see if his underachieving team can take 'em off the hook for the time being: The Cowboys watched their three-game SU/ATS win streak come to a crashing end last weekend with the 27-7 loss to Atlanta and now without RB Zeke Elliott again you have to wonder if the now 5-point pup 'Boys can steer the ship to the winner's circle - if left tackle Tyron Smith doesn't play here than Dallas' chances become more and more remote. Philly fans, meanwhile, know their Eagles have won seven straight (and covered the last six in a row) with MVP candidate QB Carson Wentz at the wheel - do you believe the Eagles are one of three teams that are + 100-or-more points in the point differential category? The Birds have scored 283 points and allowed 179 points and this rush defense ranks 1st in the league ... wow!

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