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Folks, we’ve been hearing a whole lot about “red states” and “blue states” and “undecideds” in this heightened political season -- don’t worry, it’s almost over! – but today we want you to cast your vote for the NFL’s best team so far in this here-and-now 2016 season.

The way we see things, there’s the New England Patriots – they are even money to win it all this year in case you’re wondering about such things – who are very much at the head of the pro football class but what about two teams that also just keep on winning?

The Dallas Cowboys upped their won/loss mark to 7-1 with Sunday’s no-doubt-about-it 35-10 win/cover at the 7.5-point underdog Cleveland Browns – that means the ‘Boys now have notched pointspread wins in seven consecutive games and has anyone out there noticed that Dallas is allowing a meager 17.5 ppg in a league where scoring’s gone up, up and away this year?

Last night another “contender” for the title of best team in the NFL threw its proverbial hat into the ring as the Oakland Raiders slam-dunked the admittedly short-handed 1-point underdog Denver Broncos 30-20 in a game that was never quite that close.

Okay, so maybe the zebras – feeling guilty about calling for an NFL-record 24 penalties on the Raiders in last week’s OT win in Tampa Bay – wanted to “even things out” a bit here ‘cause it sure did look like the officials were “picking on” the Broncos’ battered secondary, but truth is the 7-2 Raiders now must be part of the conversation for best team in the league and they sure as heck have the best O-line in the business if that designation doesn’t belong to the Cowboys’ blocking wall.

If you want our – let’s say – top five it would go like this: 1—New England Patriots; 2 – Dallas Cowboys; 3 – Oakland Raiders; 4 – Seattle Seahawks (pending tonight’s game, of course); and 5 – Kansas City Chiefs.

Yes, we know that when you enter your polling station tomorrow and make your decision on the next President of the United States, you’ll tune out pigskin for a few minutes. That’s okay, but give a few moments today to decide on our little matter – it’s more fun.

Meanwhile, among the NFL Week 9 newsmakers on Sunday was Detroit Lions’ PK Matt Prater who boomed an overtime-forcing 58-yard field goal and then the Lions won in the extra session on a QB Matthew Stafford scoring strike to WR Golden Tate to beat sagging Minnesota – let’s just say the Detroit “W” along with Green Bay’s later-in-the-day home loss to Indianapolis really threw the NFC North into a major tizzy.

The Lions (5-4) have their bye this weekend and then host Jacksonville before their annual Thanksgiving Day game – this year’s it’s against these same Vikings. Hmm, that’s a really delicious matchup looking down the road on Turkey Day.

And did we all give up way too soon on a couple of NFL teams? After all, the New Orleans Saints (4-4) have dug out of their 0-and-3 hole and Sunday’s 41-23 win/cover at 5.5-point pup San Francisco – featuring three touchdown passes by QB Drew Brees – wound up being one of those “hot sides” games as the Saints went from a 3.5-to-5.5-point fav in the 24-or-so hours leading into that game.

Plus, here’s the Indianapolis Colts alive-and-kicking following that above-mentioned w31-26 upset win at 7.5-point fav Green Bay. Hey, the burial arrangements were being set for this Colts team weeks ago but road wins at Tennessee and Green Bay in the past three weeks have re-lit the flame and, let’s face it, a .500 record might be good enough to win the AFC South this season.

Tonight, it’s …BUFFALO (4-4) at SEATTLE (4-2-1) – 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Heck, it really seems as if the Seahawks have not won in ages – but in reality it’s been only three weeks as Pete Carroll’s crew tied Arizona in Week 7 and then in Week 8 lost at New Orleans but gotta say we’re very interested in how this NFC West crew is gonna get outta the gate here after hearing from lots of their critics:

Can QB Russell Wilson – tender ankle and all – pose any kind of two-way threat here or will he pretty much be a pocket passer against a Bills’ defensive front that can be fierce?

And what – if anything – will the Seahawks get from one-time Pro Bowl TE Jimmy Graham who last week was ultra-quiet with three catches for 34 yards against his old Saints’ teammates?

If the 7-point underdog Bills have any major hope of pulling the upset here in the great northwest, than QB Tyrod Taylor needs some help in stretching the field … it just appears that Buffalo has no “home-run” threat that’s handy.

Spread Notes – Seattle has failed to cover four of its five games this year when in the chalk role and the Seahawks overall are a shaky 6-11-1 ATS (against the spread) when playing non-divisional foes since the start of last year. Buffalo enters this prime-time bash at a dead-even but vig-losing 4-4 ATS this year and note the Bills are a solid 13-8-1 spreadwise away the past two-plus seasons.



We can say it – despite the 0-0 slugfest for three-plus quarters the other night, Alabama’s eventual 10-0 win/cover at TD underdog LSU did lack for drama – they may have been great defenses but the offenses were putrid. It sure seems that ‘Bama is getting back to the playoffs for a third straight year but if frosh QB Jalen Hurts (107 yards passing versus LSU) can’t zip in some medium-to-deep balls, the Tide is vulnerable …

Chuck Texas A&M, Florida and Nebraska onto that scrap heap of title-contending has-beens following their lost weekends – maybe it’s “justice” that then-#4 Texas A&M lost at Miss State after creating a stir by being included in the playoff mix last week but both the Gators and ‘Huskers were shown the canvas in weekend losses and neither now has even an outside shot to make the College Football Playoffs.

Finally, we are not solely basing this commentary on their losses this past weekend, but we believe Cincinnati’s Tommy Tuberville (who responded to an angry fan with “get a job” comments) and Oregon’s Mark Helfrich (his Ducks were a non-competitive 45-20 loser at USC) both need to seek employment elsewhere at the conclusion of this season.

Nobody’s asking but it might make perfect sense to ignore those Chip Kelly-back-to-Oregon rumors and instead hand the job to Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck who right now is on our short list of national “Coach of the Year” candidates.

Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly?

Well, if we were making the call, we’d give Kelly one more year to straighten things out but – in this dog-eat-dog business – if, let’s say, one-time Notre Dame assistant/current Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer expressed any interest in the South Bend job, then Kelly would be shown the door too!