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Cardinals, Palmer show how things can change in a week

A week after appearing broken down and resembling a brother of Father Time, Carson Palmer put together a highlight tape that recalled his prime. The Arizona Cardinals are not ready for a casket just yet.

A week after a slimmed-down Jameis Winston passed for four touchdowns in an upset win, he threw four interceptions in a blowout loss.

Similar scenarios played out all over the NFL. What happens in Week 1 often stays there and rarely means a thing in Week 2.

“Some teams kind of bounced back,” Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito said.

It was a bounce-back Sunday for several teams, and it was back to reality for others.

The reality for Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were torched 40-7 in the Arizona desert, is they are not ready for the heavyweight division. The Cardinals, 7-point favorites, led 24-0 at the half, and Palmer was able to sit out most of the fourth quarter after passing for 308 yards and three touchdowns.

Who knows if Palmer’s resurgence is for real, but we know coach Bruce Arians is no phony, and he got Arizona to bounce back from a discouraging loss to New England.

No team looked worse in Week 1 than the Rams, who were shut out in San Francisco. Six days later, the Rams found the win column — if not the end zone — in Los Angeles.

Greg Zuerlein made three field goals in an ugly 9-3 victory over Seattle, which was a sucker bet for the public as a 5½-point favorite. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson hobbled on a bad ankle behind a bad offensive line, and that was a losing combination. The Rams are 1-1 and scoring 4.5 points per game.

“The offensive line seems to be in disarray,” Esposito said, “and Wilson is running for his life back there.”

The Browns, who looked typically terrible in their opener, raced ahead of Baltimore 20-0 in the first quarter. Cleveland collapsed, to no surprise, but most underdog bettors cashed. The Ravens, 6- to 6½-point favorites for most of the week before sharp money drove the closing line to 4½, rallied to win 25-20.

Tennessee, a loser in its home opener, trailed 15-3 after three quarters at Detroit. The Lions, off an impressive road win, fell apart in the fourth quarter on their home field. Marcus Mariota’s two touchdown passes lifted the Titans to a 16-15 win.

The Raiders, off a dramatic road win, fell flat in their return to Oakland. Matt Ryan, outplayed by Winston last week, turned things around by passing for 396 yards and three touchdowns as the Falcons, 4-point underdogs, prevailed 35-28.

The Chargers, who blew a 24-3 lead in a Week 1 overtime defeat, returned to San Diego and jumped all over the Jaguars, who played dead as 3-point ’dogs in a 38-14 blowout.

Jacksonville fooled some bettors by showing positive signs in its season-opening loss to Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers swaggered into Minnesota and got humbled in a 17-14 loss. Rodgers was intercepted with 1:50 remaining to cap a winning day for Las Vegas bookmakers.

The Vikings closed as 2-point underdogs on opening night in their new stadium, and the public backed the Packers.

“We are even for the day,” Westgate sports book director Jay Kornegay said moments before Rodgers was picked off. “All chips are in on the late game. It will make or break us.”

Favorites finished the day 8-6 against the spread. The Falcons, Rams, Titans and Vikings joined the Cowboys as outright underdog winners.

Dallas, which dropped a close game last week, pulled out a 27-23 victory over Washington as rookie quarterback Dak Prescott appeared surprisingly cool in his first road start.

New Orleans, bet from a 5½- to a 3½-point underdog, covered in a 16-13 loss to the New York Giants. Of course, everyone could see how bad the Saints’ defense looked last week, so everyone bet this one over the total of 54½.

“I was really surprised by the lack of scoring in the Saints-Giants game,” Esposito said. “Winning ugly is kind of what you have to do in this league.”

The Broncos won and covered in ugly fashion, scoring 11 points in a nine-second span after the two-minute warning to beat Indianapolis 34-20. Denver, a 6-point favorite, led by six before Shane Ray’s 15-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

Seven teams are 2-0, including the Patriots and Houston Texans, who clash Thursday at New England. The Patriots, who lost their newest star quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, to an injury Sunday, opened as 2½-point underdogs.

The NFL is a strange world. A lot of what happens defies common sense, which means it’s a microcosm of society.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports betting columnist Matt Youmans can be reached at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907. He co-hosts “The Las Vegas Sportsline” weekdays at 2 p.m. on ESPN Radio (1100 AM). Follow @mattyoumans247 on Twitter.

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