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What a difference a win makes, right?

The reeling Denver Broncos, once again off to a poor start to the season in the face of so many injuries, pulled off a stunning 18-12 win over the New England Patriots last Sunday. Much of that was down to the play of the defense, and the strong leg of two-time AFC Special Teams Player of the Week Brandon McManus, who was the offense: he made six field goals, including four from over 40 yards and two from 50-plus.

The victory moved the Broncos to 2-3 heading into a tough contest with Kansas City Sunday. But even if Denver loses to fall to 2-4, it looks a lot better than 1-5, especially with some winnable games coming up in November.

William Hill Colorado has the Broncos as a 9.5-point underdog this weekend, but has already opened the line the following weekend, at home against the Los Angeles Chargers, at +1. It is still a long shot that Denver can climb to .500 this season with all the injuries, but at least there is still a glimmer of hope after last weekend.

Another team that has itself set up for a big second half of the NFL season are the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals played on national television Monday night and obliterated the Dallas Cowboys 38-10, which is remarkable given that Arizona was just a slim one-point favorite going into the contest. I think a lot of people made some money on that line (I know I did).

The NFC playoff race, even in these early stages, is still quite muddled. But there are a few things we can already figure. The NFC (L)East is getting one team in the playoffs, and in all reality the division should actually forfeit its spot to a deserving team: it has been that bad.

The Cardinals (4-2) are one of seven teams with winning records heading into Week 7, knowing that 9-7 might be enough to get them into the playoffs. The next three games might be key: Arizona plays three in a row at home, with a bye after this weekend’s game against the 5-0 Seattle Seahawks. Beat Seattle, and the NFC West race is blown right open. Of course, the West is the toughest division in football, so if the Cards can go 3-3 (they are 1-0 already), and win three of the five left out of division (Dolphins, Pats, Bills, Eagles, Giants), that would be nine wins.

Either way, this team is on the rise with Kyler Murray and company, and is fun to watch. William Hill has the Cardinals as a 3.5-point underdog this weekend, with the over/under set at 56. Look for a lot of points to be scored, with Murray and Russell Wilson putting on a show for the national audience.

Finally, if you are looking for a decent play this week (when there are some very interesting matchups all over the country), you have to look at any team playing against the hapless New York Jets. While Buffalo has lost two straight, the Bills will relish the opportunity to get their season back on track over the next two weeks, and possibly take a huge step towards an AFC East title. Look for the Bills to score more than 28 points (-135).

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