Oddsmakers adjust Dallas Cowboys after injury to Tony Romo

A year ago, life without quarterback Tony Romo was a miserable disaster for the Dallas Cowboys. Will this be deja vu?

In his first preseason appearance last week, Romo went down with a back injury — suffering a compression fracture of his vertebrae — and is expected to miss at least the first month of the NFL season. He could be out for two months or more.

Las Vegas bookmakers reacted immediately by taking the Cowboys’ regular-season win total (9, Over minus-140) and their odds to win the NFC East (7-5) off the betting board.

“We’re just trying to pinpoint how long he’s going to be out,” Westgate sports book manager Ed Salmons said.

Dallas’ odds to win the Super Bowl were adjusted from 16-1 to 25-1. Conventional wisdom would indicate the Cowboys are much less of a threat with rookie Dak Prescott, a fourth-round draft pick from Mississippi State, replacing Romo. After all, the team went 1-11 in games without Romo last season.

But Salmons said writing off the Cowboys is an overreaction. Prescott has performed surprisingly well in the preseason, and running back Ezekiel Elliott, a first-round pick from Ohio State, adds another explosive element to one of the league’s top offenses.

“The more I watch Romo play, the older he looks,” Salmons said. “When a star player is out, people overreact. I expected Dallas to win the division, and I’m not going to change my opinion.

“Elliott is going to be awesome in this league. Prescott has looked great in the preseason. The offense looks better when Prescott is in there. But I don’t like Jason Garrett. I think he’s a bad coach, and I don’t want to see him get into conservative mode to protect Prescott.”

Dallas was a 3½-point home favorite over the New York Giants in Week 1 prior to Romo’s injury. The line has been adjusted to pick’em, and Salmons anticipates the Giants will be a popular play on the season’s opening Sunday.

“I’m not going to be surprised to see the Giants go off favored by 2½,” Salmons said.

NFL HANDICAPPING SEMINAR

Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito is hosting a free handicapping seminar at 5:30 p.m Tuesday inside Club Madrid. Las Vegas handicappers Brian Blessing, Bernie Fratto, Todd Fuhrman, Andy Iskoe and Bruce Marshall will be on a panel with national TV personality Hank Goldberg.

Contact sports betting reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907. Follow on Twitter: @mattyoumans247

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