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November 23, 2017

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Vegas pick’em: NFL Week 2 winners against the spread

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (50) celebrates with defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (90) after Lawrence sacked New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, right rear, in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Arlington, Texas.

Week 2: Cowboys at Broncos

Game of the Week: Cowboys minus-2 at Broncos (Poll consensus: 1-0 year to date)
Cowboys minus-2 — 61.8%
Broncos plus-2 — 38.2%

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.

NFL fans will be spared the narrative of revolutionary offenses for at least one week.

Defense ruled Week 1, as the average of 40 points per game was five points lower than any other opening weekend in the last seven years. Gamblers felt the effects, as unders whizzed at an alarming rate for bettors known to stack parlays by playing on games to go over their point totals.

Unders went 10-5 in Week 1, including 10-2 on Sunday. Over bettors were able to salvage some bankroll in the Monday Night Football doubleheader, as both the Saints at Vikings and Chargers at Broncos narrowly snuck past the total in the final minutes.

The easiest over came in the opening game of the season, when the Chiefs’ 42-27 victory at the Patriots obliterated the total of 48 points. No other game for the rest of the week would come within 10 points of the 69 New England and Kansas City combined to score.

Talking Points had no qualms with the opening week, as the blog went 11-4 against the spread picking every game.

Check below for Week 2 of the pick’em with games separated in three confidence categories — plays, leans and guesses. Lines are the best currently available in Las Vegas on the chosen side.

Plays (4-0)

Buffalo Bills plus-7.5 at Carolina Panthers Granted, it’s just the Jets but the Bills manhandled their division rivals much more than the 21-12 final score indicated. Perhaps everyone was too quick to write off a team that’s finished with a positive point differential for three consecutive seasons.

Pittsburgh Steelers minus-6.5 vs. Minnesota Vikings Still skeptical of the Vikings’ offense despite Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook sparking them to 7.5 yards per play in a 29-19 win over the Saints. New Orleans has a lockdown on being one of the worst defenses in the league for the last several years, while Pittsburgh should return to being one of the best this season.

Philadelphia Eagles plus-5 at Kansas City Chiefs Here’s the obligatory plea not to overreact to the first week. Bookmakers added only one point to this spread following the Chiefs’ masterful 42-27 execution of the Patriots, but that’s one point too many considering the Eagles appeared to take a similar step forward in a 30-17 win at Washington.

Leans (2-3)

Denver Broncos plus-2.5 vs. Dallas Cowboys The second-year tandem of quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott have produced at a historic clip, but they’ve never encountered a defense like the Broncos’ — let alone on the road. The Broncos’ offense also looked upgraded in Week 1 behind a stellar performance from quarterback Trevor Siemian, who completed 17 of 28 passes for 219 yards with three total touchdowns.

Jacksonville Jaguars plus-2.5 vs. Tennessee Titans It was just Week 16 of last season when the Jaguars flattened the Titans 38-17 at home behind a dominant defensive performance. They’ve only appeared to get better on that side of the ball in the offseason, with several young players like Myles Jack and Dante Fowler coming into their own.

Chicago Bears plus-7 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Feeling detached from the hype around the Buccaneers, which have a turnover-prone offense and a defense susceptible to getting gashed by the run. Need to see they’ve solved their issues before laying a big number, and that was impossible with their opener at Miami delayed to Week 11 for Hurricane Irma last week.

New York Giants minus-3 vs. Detroit Lions Much has been made of the Giants’ offensive struggles dating back to the end of last season, but nothing should get them on track like a meeting with the porous Lions. It’s a gamble to assume Odell Beckham, but if he does, the Lions have no one who can match up.

Indianapolis Colts plus-7.5 vs. Arizona Cardinals It’s never easy, but usually smart to back teams coming off of blowout losses as the betting market tends to over-adjust. Let’s also not forget that the Cardinals’ 35-23 defeat at Detroit might not look bad next to the Colts’ 46-9 embarrassment at the Los Angeles Rams, but it was still one of the worst performances of Week 1.

Guesses (5-1)

Cincinnati Bengals minus-6 vs. Houston Texans Deshaun Watson is not the answer to the Texans’ problems — not yet anyway. Watson, who’s also hobbled by an ankle injury, is primed to struggle with turnovers — he had one interception in his relief role last week against the Jaguars with another overturned by a penalty and a potential third dropped — behind a makeshift offensive line going up against a Bengals’ defense that wasn’t part of the problem in their Week 1 loss.

Atlanta Falcons minus-1.5 vs. Green Bay Packers Treasure Island is dealing this deflated spread, giving just enough value to confidently going with the Falcons in their debut at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. They’re the pick at anything less than 3, while the Packers would be an easy choice at anything more than that.

Washington Redskins plus-3 at Los Angeles Rams One blowout win over the listless Colts shouldn’t be worth three points on the spread, but that’s the case here as the look-ahead line on this game was a pick’em. Not ready to write off Washington, which has been a profitable against the spread bet the last two seasons.

San Francisco 49ers plus-13.5 at Seattle Seahawks It looks like yet another year where it will take some time for Seattle’s offense to enliven, if it ever does at all. The Panthers shut down the 49ers in a 23-3 victory in Week 1, but their defense but might be even better than the Seahawks’ this year.

Los Angeles Chargers minus-4.5 vs. Miami Dolphins It’s hard to judge a team that didn’t play in Week 1 like the Dolphins, and the Chargers looked dangerous when they lit up to nearly come back to beat the Broncos in a 24-21 Monday Night Football loss. They can ill afford to fall into a 0-2 hole in a division as competitive as the AFC West.

Baltimore Ravens minus-7.5 vs. Cleveland Browns Number looks spot-on, which would usually signal taking the points reluctantly. But it’s difficult not to have visions of the five sacks the Ravens piled up last week and start wondering how DeShone Kizer will handle such pressure in his first road start.

New Orleans Saints plus-7 vs. New England Patriots Still no value to be found on the Patriots, which remain inflated on the point spread despite last week’s loss to the Chiefs exposing clear defensive issues. They’ll undoubtedly improve but so will the Saints, a team that’s traditionally a much stronger bet when playing in the Superdome.

New York Jets plus-14 at Oakland Raiders The Jets are as pitiful as advertised, but sticking with the old rule of not laying double digits under any circumstance this early in the season. Even if they fall behind big early, the Raiders could take off the pressure and open the possibility of a backdoor cover.

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

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