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Best bets on Week 2 NFL games

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It's Week 2 of the NFL season, and handicappers Warren Sharp and Preston Johnson have you covered with comprehensive betting previews for all of Sunday's games (except the late game).

Note: All odds courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook as of Thursday evening.


Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-6)

Total: 44.5
PickCenter public consensus pick: 55 percent Carolina

Sharp: The 2017 Falcons defense ranked No. 30 in my EDSR (early down success rate) metric and No. 22 in Football Outsiders' DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average). They just lost their best defender, Deion Jones, as well as starting safety Keanu Neal. Jones is the heart and soul of the Falcons defense, and this is the worst possible week to be without him because Christian McCaffrey is coming to town. Atlanta's pass defense against running backs had long been its weak point. The past three seasons, from an opponent's 20 to the end zone 80 yards away, RB targets against the Falcons produced a 50 percent success rate, No. 26 in the NFL. And now without the key players that would cover running backs out of the backfield, it's just a juicy matchup for McCaffrey to exploit.

The problem for Carolina is it must exploit that matchup because the Panthers lost tight end Greg Olsen, and they are weaker up front with an offensive line decimated by injuries. That means Cam Newton likely will take fewer deep drops so he can get the ball out underneath. The Eagles have one of the NFL's best offensive lines, and the Falcons still were only able to record two sacks on 34 dropbacks by Nick Foles in Week 1. The Panthers don't have nearly that stout of an offensive line and absorbed three sacks on just 29 Newton dropbacks against the Cowboys' defense at home.