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November 18, 2018

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

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Christopher DeVargas

A look at the Mandalay Bay Race & Sports Book, Friday Sept. 22, 2018.

Week 5: Redskins at Saints

Which side would you take in Redskins at Saints? (Poll consensus year to date: 4-0)
Saints minus-6.5 — 58.2%
Redskins plus-6.5 — 41.8%

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.

The scene in sports books differed depending on where someone was looking during the NFL’s Week 4. A couple seats would have bettors with slumped shoulders and scowls, while others nearby would be sharing high-fives and hugs.

That might be true of any week, but it was more pronounced during the latest slate of games. Bad beats or lucky breaks, depending on the eye of beholder, dotted the betting board.

Five of 15 games featured closing betting lines ultimately decided by less than three points — and that’s not including a push in the Los Angeles’ Rams 38-31 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football.

Among the tight decisions were three overtime debacles, including the Raiders’ controversial half-point cover over the Browns and the Texans’ last-second field goal to beat the Colts and cover minus-1.

Week 5 ended appropriately with the Broncos stalling just short of the red zone to fall to the Chiefs 27-23 as 3.5-point underdogs in a game where they covered for all but two minutes.

Taking in the thrill of an improbable victory and experiencing the anguish of an unlikely defeat must are sensations that sports bettors must embrace equally, because they’re both certain to happen. Talking Points just hopes to outweigh the latter with the former, which has worked out for the most part this season.

The blog is 31-28-4 against the spread picking every game, including 8-5 on plays.

Check below for Week 5 picks on every game. They’re listed in rough order of confidence and separated in three categories. Lines are the best currently available in Las Vegas on the chosen side.

Plays (8-5)

Pittsburgh Steelers minus-3 vs. Atlanta Falcons Public perception is that Pittsburgh’s problems are more pronounced than Atlanta’s, but that might be a mistake. Given their extensive injury report, the Falcons look out of options to repair a broken defense that ranks 30th in the league by Football Outsiders’ DVOA.

Indianapolis Colts plus-10.5 at New England Patriots New England may have its mojo back after blasting Miami 38-7 as 7-point favorites, so paying an inflated price might be reasonable against a totally overmatched foe. Indianapolis doesn’t appear to fit that description, however, as it’s been more efficient than New England defensively on the year and aren’t severely outgunned from a coaching standpoint with Frank Reich looking shrewd early in his tenure.

Washington Redskins plus-7 at New Orleans Saints Buy signs are all over Washington, which appear to be one of the most solid teams in the NFL despite being under the radar, even before considering it’s coming off of a bye week. This would drop to a lean, however, at the more widespread price of minus-6.5 as Coasts Casinos was the only shop in town at 7 as of Wednesday night.

Leans (10-6-2)

Los Angeles Chargers minus-5 vs. Oakland Raiders Last week’s minor-miracle comeback win over the Browns doesn’t change the obvious: The Raiders are a mess. The Chargers should be able to pile on points against a defense giving up 6.8 yards per play, the second-worst rate in the league.

Cleveland Browns plus-3 vs. Baltimore Ravens Taking a Hue Jackson-coached team over a John Harbaugh-coached team is a dangerous proposition, but selling high on the Ravens takes precedence. Baltimore is suddenly getting priced as one of the best teams in the league even though it doesn’t have the personnel to merit such distinction.

Arizona Cardinals plus-4.5 at San Francisco 49ers Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen looked capable in throwing for 6.6 yards per attempt with a touchdown and no interceptions in his debut. He can’t be any worse than the 49ers’ C.J. Beathard, also at a career 6.6 yards per attempt but with eight touchdowns to six interceptions, so the points become the play.

Houston Texans minus-3 vs. Dallas Cowboys Texans’ offense appears to have kicked into gear over the last couple weeks, and from a matchup perspective, they should have an advantage with their receivers against the Cowboys’ suspect secondary. Number also appears to be on the way to 3.5, so grab the Texans while they’re available at a field goal.

Guesses (6-9-2)

Miami Dolphins plus-6.5 at Cincinnati Bengals Teams coming off of blowout losses are typically smart investments, and this line was only minus-4 last week before the Dolphins’ obliteration in New England. Cincinnati has been far more efficient than Miami, and against a tougher schedule to boot, but this is a couple points too many.

Buffalo Bills plus-3.5 vs. Tennessee Titans Titans have won three straight games by three points, a run that typically has two characteristics — good coaching and good luck. The former is deservedly being hailed when it comes to Mike Vrabel, but don’t underestimate the role the latter has also played.

Kansas City Chiefs minus-3 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Sure, the Jaguars’ defense appears to have maintained last year’s pace of being the best in the league by allowing only 4.5 yards per play through the first quarter of the season. But that came against one of the worst schedules of opposing offenses. Need at least one more point to entice a wager against a more formidable Chiefs’ offense.

Green Bay Packers minus-1.5 at Detroit Lions Aaron Rodgers looked less hobbled in last week's 22-0 win over the Bills, meaning an already above-average offense could be moving towards its usual space as one of the best in the NFL. That's problematic for a Detroit defense that still has its holes and ranks 27th in the league by DVOA.

New York Giants plus-7 at Carolina Panthers Giants have taken an inordinate amount of action all season, and yet, no one is touching them this week. That might mean they’re worth a look against a Panthers’ team that’s limited defensively and still banged up despite a bye week.

Seattle Seahawks plus-7.5 vs. Los Angeles Rams It’s tempting to try to beat the Rams right now as their spreads swell out of control, but 7 points is simply not enough to go against the NFL’s best team early in the season. An extra half-point can go a long way. The Seahawks haven’t been this big of a home underdog in more than seven years.

New York Jets minus-1 vs. Denver Broncos Granted, the Jets’ numbers are still a bit off by virtue of its turnover-parade 48-17 Week 1 win over the Lions but their point differential on the year is Even while the Broncos are at minus-13. It’s typically a smart rule to take the small home favorite in a game where there’s not a lot separating the two teams.

Philadelphia Eagles minus-3 vs. Minnesota Vikings Speaking of short home favorites, that’s entirely the impetus for this pick. Both teams were expected contenders with evident shortcomings early in the season and have an identical minus-0.4 net yards per play. That makes the field-goal line in favor of the home team the correct price.

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

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