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December 18, 2017

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Vegas pick’em: NFL Week 5 winners against the spread

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) carries the ball between Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Terrance Mitchell (39) and linebacker Justin Houston (50) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Monday, Oct. 2, 2017. The Kansas City Chiefs won 29-20.

Week 5: Seahawks at Rams

Game of the Week: Seahawks plus-1.5 at Rams (Poll consensus year to date: 3-1)
Seahawks plus-1.5 — 50.8%
Rams minus-1.5 — 49.2%

This poll is closed, see Full Results »

Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

If a Bad Beat Hall of Fame is ever established, Justin Houston ensured himself automatic entry with the stunt he pulled at the end of Monday Night Football.

With time expired, the veteran Chiefs linebacker notched a fumble to end the Redskins’ desperate attempt to score on multilateral miracle. Instead of just falling on the ball to end the game like every coach would advise, Houston waltzed into the end zone for a touchdown meaningless to the game’s result but all too meaningful in Las Vegas.

Houston’s touchdown made the final score 29-20, allowing the Chiefs to cover the 7-point spread, a number they hadn’t eclipsed the entire game, and go over the game’s total of 47 points.

Three-fourths of the tickets bet at William Hill sports books were on the Chiefs, with similar splits reported everywhere around town. Houston’s joyride made it a losing night for the house.

It also made it the first losing week for Talking Points’ plays, as a pick on Washington plus-7 put the weekly record at 1-2. The blog still went 8-8 overall, however, to make the record picking every game against the spread this season 38-25.

Read below to find this week’s picks, separated as always into three confidence categories with lines the best available at the time of writing in Las Vegas.

Plays (9-4)

Arizona Cardinals plus-6.5 at Philadelphia Eagles There’s some hidden value indicating the Cardinals aren’t as bad as perceived, and the same leaning the other way for the Eagles. For instance, the Cardinals have been unlucky to not recover a single fumble by an opponent this season while the Eagles have been fortunate to fall on five of six opponents’ fumbles.

Dallas Cowboys minus-1.5 vs. Green Bay Packers Handicappers often overvalue the impact of a single injury to a star, but underestimate the effect of a team dealing with several sidelined role players. The latter appears to be happening here, as the Packers are getting 4 points less on the betting line than in their last trip to Dallas, a memorable 34-31 playoff win last January, despite being ravaged by injuries.

Cincinnati Bengals minus-3 vs. Buffalo Bills Cincinnati has quietly played so well over the last two weeks that it’s now gaining a significant .5 yards more per play than it’s giving up on the season. Buffalo, contrariwise, and despite its 3-1 straight-up and 4-0 against the spread record, is breaking even by both gaining and giving up 4.9 yards per play.

Leans (10-10)

Carolina Panthers plus-2.5 at Detroit Lions Cracks are beginning to show in a Lions’ defense that was dreadful a year ago. Detroit has given up 6.5 yards per play over the last two weeks, and could be in for another long day with Cam Newton starting to get more comfortable with Panthers’ revamped offense.

Minnesota Vikings minus-3 at Chicago Bears If quarterback Sam Bradford comes back for the Vikings, this could wind up being a steal of a point or two on the betting line. Even if he doesn’t, this is a fair price to fade a debuting quarterback in the Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky going up against a defense that ranks third in the NFL versus the pass by Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings.

San Francisco 49ers plus-2 at Indianapolis Colts Colts’ injury problems only became more severe in a 46-18 loss to the Seahawks last week, as they were further decimated along the offensive line. The 49ers have been more competitive anyway, as they’re unlucky to be winless after losing by a combined eight points the last three weeks.

Oakland Raiders minus-2.5 vs. Baltimore Ravens Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco ranks second-to-last in the NFL — ahead of only the Browns’ DeShone Kizer — in passer rating through four weeks. Raiders backup quarterback E.J. Manuel, who’s forced into action following Derek Carr’s back injury, can’t be much worse and has the advantage of playing at home against a beaten-up team traveling 3,000 miles.

Cleveland Browns pick’em vs. New York Jets Don’t expect the Jets to rush for 8 yards per carry again like they did in last week’s 23-20 upset victory over the Jaguars. Stopping the run might be the only thing the Browns do well, as they rank sixth in the league in rush defense by DVOA.

Guesses (19-11)

Kansas City Chiefs pick’em at Houston Texans Lost in the excitement over the Chiefs’ offense is how well their defense is also playing, with Houston particularly looking back in 2014 form when he led the league with 22 sacks. They will be the toughest unit Texans rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson has seen.

Los Angeles Rams minus-1 vs. Seattle Seahawks Based on the last several years, the Seahawks should be the team laying points here. Based on this season, the Rams should be laying more points here.

Miami Dolphins plus-3 vs. Tennessee Titans This is a pure gamble with no word yet on whether Marcus Mariota will play for the Titans, but any chance of getting stuck laying points on the road with Brandon Weeden at quarterback is dicey. Here’s to hoping the Dolphins feel more comfortable and put forth an inspired effort in their first home game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers plus-5.5 vs. New England Patriots Having failed to cover by double digits in three out of four games this season, the Patriots have clearly demonstrated they’re overvalued by oddsmakers’ power ratings and the betting public. But no adjustments have been made, so laying an exorbitant price would be a mistake even with the strong reputation of coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady coming off of a loss.

Los Angeles Chargers plus-3.5 at New York Giants Chargers are the only team with neither a straight-up victory nor an against the spread win, and yet somehow barely seem dysfunctional next to the Giants. Philip Rivers has a knack for delivering as a road underdog, as the Chargers are 23-12 against the spread in the situation over the last five years.

Jacksonville Jaguars plus-9 at Pittsburgh Steelers When the number is this tight, it pays in the long-term to go strictly contrarian. The Steelers will have around 90 percent of the tickets, and it’s wiser to be on the side the sports books will need.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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