Thursday was a day of spending time with family and giving thanks – and in the Tuley’s Takes home office it was also about football.
Our family dinner was a bountiful feast with turkey, spiral-cut honey-baked ham (which I prefer over the traditional turkey), stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, asparagus (hard pass), cranberry sauce and pumpkin, cherry and chocolate pies.
When it was time to give thanks, I thanked the good Lord for the “dog-or-pass” philosophy as we won our Best Bet on the Lions +9.5 (closing line from Thursday’s version of this column, though we had it at +10 and trust our loyal readers were with us, plus we used it in VSiN’s BetsGiving contest for a nice start to the weekend). We also bet the Giants +10 vs. the Cowboys and made the right decision to pass on the Patriots +2.5. Again, “dog-or-pass” was gold.
The winning bet on the Lions improved our daily Best Bet record to 18-6 ATS (75%) the first 24 days of November, including 14-3 ATS (82.4%) the last 17 days.
Let’s recap the rest of Thursday’s betting results (note that dogs also were the way to go in the one CFB game on the main betting board and in CBB Top 10 games). We also have a “Contest Corner” update on Circa Survivor with its extra “Thanksgiving Week.” We then will look for Best Bets on Friday’s loaded sports betting menu and, as has become our custom here, we’ll rerun and update our Wednesday column in which we give our “takes” on the full NFL Week 12 schedule.
NFL: Vikings beat Patriots in 33-26 shootout in the Thanksgiving nightcap as they also covered after closing as 2.5-point home favorites. The game flew Over the betting total of 42 points. In the earlier games, the Bills beat the Lions 28-25, but did NOT cover after closing as 9.5-point faves (stayed Under 54.5 points) and the Cowboys also failed to cover as 10-point faves in 28-20 win vs. the Giants (went Over 45.5). Faves swept 3-0 SU on the day, but dogs led 2-1 ATS. Home teams went 2-1 SU and ATS. Overs 2-1.
More NFL: Faves lead 102-62-1 SU on the season with 2 games closing pick-’em, but dogs improved to 90-69-6 ATS (56.6%). Home teams lead 87-73-1 SU with 6 neutral-site games, but road teams lead 79-76-6 ATS (51%). Unders still lead 93-72-2 (56.4%) while primetime Unders dipped to 19-15-1 (55.9%).
CFB: Mississippi State held off No. 20 Mississippi 24-22 in the "Egg Bowl.” The Bulldogs did it as 2.5-point road underdogs and +115 on the money line. The game stayed well Under the betting total of 63 points.
CBB: In Thursday's only game between Top 25 teams, No. 18 Alabama (-5) covered in its 81-70 win over No. 12 Michigan State at the Phil Knight Invitational. It wasn’t an easy day for top-ranked teams as No. 1 North Carolina (-15), No. 3 Kansas (-7.5), No. 6 Gonzaga (-28) and No. 8 Duke (-21.5) all failed to cover in their wins.
Circa Survivor is down to 71 live entries as 3 lost on the Patriots in the extra "Thanksgiving Week" of the $6.133 million contest at Circa Sports. Those who advanced with the Bills, Cowboys or Vikings must now pick another SU winner on the rest of the NFL Week 12 card.
Friday’s Best Bets
Wyoming +15 at Fresno State: I like Fresno QB Jake Haener as much as the next guy, but the fact is this line shouldn’t be this high. Wyoming is 7-4 (just like Fresno State) and has a Top 30 rushing offense (averaging 197 yards per game led by RB Titus Swen) and a Top 40 scoring defense (allowing just 22.8 points per game). That combo should help the Cowboys stay within two touchdowns.
Sabres +145 vs. Devils: In addition to our football picks, we’ve also been red-hot lately with our swagger/anti-swagger plays in the NHL and NBA. It wasn’t our Best Bet on Wednesday, but we cashed with the Sabres +155 against the Blues as the Sabres were a swagger play after snapping an 8-game losing streak in their prior game to get their swagger back. Now, the Sabres host the Devils, who had their 13-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday. The Bruins also had a 7-game win streak snapped the same night, so we’re looking to fade them with the Hurricanes +135. The Blues’ loss to the Sabres also snapped their 7-game win streak, but I’ll pass on fading them as the Lightning is a -170 favorite in their game (but just mentioning it for those who are interested).
I’m also passing on the one NBA anti-swagger play on Friday, but for those willing to lay points the Kings – who had their 7-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday – would be a play-against with the Celtics -8 on Friday night.
USA-England Under 2.5 goals:
I used this for my Friday play in VSiN's BetsGiving as me and my soccer handicapping friends expect a low-scoring game as Team USA needs a positive result if it hopes to advance out of pool play in the World Cup. England, after a 6-2 rout of Iran, should also be playing tight.
Here's our rerun of Wednesday's column, including updates with current lines:
Welcome to our weekly Wednesday “Tuley’s Takes Today” column in which we break down the full NFL schedule.
We’re coming off another winning NFL week as we won with the Titans last Thursday and the Panthers, Lions and Raiders on Sunday as well as hitting our top teaser. However, we did lose with the Cardinals on Monday Night Football to end on a sour note, but we’re back for more in NFL Week 12, starting with the Thanksgiving tripleheader on Thursday.
We’ve also been hot with our daily top picks as we won with Ball State +3 in a 18-17 loss to Miami-Ohio in Tuesday night MACtion.
That improved our daily Best Bets to 16-6 ATS (72.7%) the first 22 days of November, including 12-3 ATS (80%) the last 15 days.
But let’s get to what everyone is here for on Wednesday. Even if I don’t have a Best Bet on a game, I’ll still give my “pool play” strategy for those who are in contests where you have to pick every game.
Note: Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of late Tuesday night unless otherwise noted. Check out VSIN.com's live NFL odds page HERE for current odds.
Buffalo Bills (-10 -105) at Detroit Lions
The Bills were the Super Bowl favorites for a long time with most people saying they had the best overall team. They even ranked No. 1 in total offense and total defense earlier this season, but while they’re still No. 2 in total offense at 417.4 yards per game, the defense only ranks No. 13 as the Bills have mostly been letting teams stick around. In fact, in addition to losing two straight games earlier this month to the Jets and Vikings, the Bills’ last five games have all been one-score games. And now they face the poster child for covering as underdog: the Lions were 11-6 ATS last season despite a 3-13-1 SU record and are 6-4 ATS this year, including three straight upsets of the Packers, Bears and Giants. We gave this out at +10 at DraftKings on “The Greg Peterson Experience” on Sunday night and still love the play as double-digit dogs are 10-4 ATS so far this season.
Best Bet: Lions +10 (pool play: Lions in all my rare ATS contests that use Thanksgiving Day games while Bills in all my SU pools). Thursday update: We're not thrilled with the drop in the line to 9.5, but we still believe the Lions are playable down to +8.5. Friday update: WINNER at all numbers!
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-9.5)
This is a tough choice because I usually love anytime I’m getting an NFL underdog of more than a touchdown, especially one with a winning record like the Giants (7-3). However, as we’ve written many times this season, the Giants have kind of been doing it with mirrors as they're a rather mediocre No. 19 in yards per game and No. 17 in yards allowed per game. The Cowboys won the earlier meeting 23-16 at the Meadowlands, but that was with Cooper Rush at QB and when the Giants were playing better, so I have to pass for now. Check out my Thursday column as I might end up taking the Giants if this gets to double digits.
Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Giants 55/45 on principle in ATS contests, but Cowboys in all my SU pools). Thursday update: We missed the +10.5, but still like Giants at +10 as double-digit dog. Friday update: WINNER, so we're glad we added G-men.
New England Patriots at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5 -115)
This is another game where I’ve gone back and forth on how to play it. At +3, the Patriots were tempting and are still very teasable up to +8.5 with the line at 2.5. The Vikings certainly look more vulnerable than they did a week ago after getting absolutely dominated by the Cowboys in a 40-3 rout. The Patriots’ defense – ranked No. 4 in yards allowed per game compared to the Cowboys at No. 8 – is capable of containing Kirk Cousins, who usually struggles in primetime games. However, the Vikings should be able to bounce back from that blowout loss and I’m not sure the Patriots’ offense will be able to match them score for score. This comes down to me just feeling more confident in the teaser plays on Sunday.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Vikings 55/45 in ATS contests and 70/30 in SU pools).
Baltimore Ravens (-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Here’s another case where I don’t feel like I’m getting enough points to back the underdog (note: I’ve had a lot of success this season by passing on lines that seemed too short). I mean, this is the Jaguars and they’re only getting 4 points vs. the Ravens? Does anyone give Jacksonville any points for home-field advantage? I just can’t pull the trigger.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Ravens 60/40 in ATS contests and 80/20 in SU pools).
Denver Broncos (-2.5) at Carolina Panthers
The Panthers have covered their last two games (a 25-15 upset vs. the Falcons in the Week 10 Thursday nighter and covering as 13-point dogs at the Ravens in a 13-3 loss) and four of their last five games. However, we have another short home dog here, but at least the Panthers are playable in 2-team, 6-point teasers, so this is a good spot to go over our teaser portfolio for the week as we’ve been killing it with these lately. In Sunday’s early games, we want to tease the Panthers up to 8.5 along with the Titans teased up from +1.5 vs. the Bengals up to +7.5. We’ll also start teasers to the Sunday and Monday night games with the Eagles -1 vs. the Packers and Steelers +8.5 at the Colts.
Best Bet: Panthers +8.5/Titans +7.5 plus other teasers (pool play: Panthers 55/45 in ATS contests but Broncos 60/40 in SU pools). Friday update: if you haven't already followed my recommendation on these teasers, grab the Panthers +1.5 if you can below line drops out of teaser territory.
Atlanta Falcons at Washington Commanders (-4)
Believe it or not, this is an important game in the NFC playoff picture with both in the wild-card chase while the Falcons (5-6) are still trying to keep up with the Buccaneers (5-5) in the NFC South. The Commanders (6-5, 6-4-1 ATS) are coming off a 23-10 win at the Texans last week as they’re still riding high after their 32-21 upset of the previously undefeated Eagles as 11-point road underdogs on Monday Night Football in Week 10. Taylor Heinicke has held onto the starting QB job by leading Washington to a 4-1 record in Carson Wentz’s absence, including other upsets of the Packers and Colts. The Falcons have arguably been overachieving even more this season as they covered the spread in their first six games and covered after closing as 2-point home favorites in a hard-fought 27-24 win vs. the Bears this past Sunday, though earlier bettors pushed on +/- 3. This is another game where I might end up on the Falcons eventually, but my first impression is that this line has been shaded just a tad too low.
Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Falcons 55/45 in ATS contests but Commanders 60/40 in SU pools). Thursday update: This has been bet up to 4.5, so I'm now using it in some contests at that number. Friday update: hope readers grabbed +4.5 as it's back own to 4 at most books.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3 -115) at Cleveland Browns
I feel like a broken record as this is another game where I don’t feel I’m getting enough points to make a case for the underdog, but I’m hoping this validates the “dog-or-pass” approach as we try to weed out the weaker dog plays. The Buccaneers (5-5) are trying to take control of the NFC South while the Browns (3-7) haven’t done enough to keep in the playoff hunt while waiting for Deshaun Watson to finish serving his suspension. The Browns have lost five of their last six games as the running game with Nick Chubb hasn’t been enough as we can’t trust them to keep up with Tom Brady and Co.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Buccaneers 60/40 in ATS pools – lower if offered -3.5 – and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).
Cincinnati Bengals (-1.5) at Tennessee Titans
We could make a case for both teams being disrespected by this line. The Bengals have worked through the Super Bowl loser hangover to get to 6-4 and within a game of the Ravens in the AFC North while the Titans (7-3) overcame an 0-2 start to win seven of their last eight games (and eight straight covers for bettors!) to take a three-game lead in the AFC South. But while this line is again short for ATS purposes, the Titans are a prime teaser candidate with defending coach of the year Mike Vrabel looking worthy of winning the award for the second straight season.
Best Bet: Titans +7.5/Panthers +8.5 and other teasers (pool play: Titans 55/45 in ATS contests as well as SU pools and we’ll call for the outright upset). Friday update: line is up to Bengals -2.5 at most books, so 6-point teaser is even stronger with Titans up to +8.5
Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins (-13.5)
The Dolphins (7-3) find themselves tied for first place with the Bills in AFC East and hold the tiebreaker since they upset them 21-19 back in Week 3 as 4.5-point home underdogs (though there’s a rematch in Buffalo in Week 14). Since his concussion issues earlier in the year, Tua Tagovailoa has the offense clicking as it’s No. 3 in the league at 391.5 yards per game led by the WR tandem of Tyreek Hill and Jayden Waddle along with an improved running game with Jeff Wilson Jr. coming over from San Francisco to share duties with Raheem Mostert (another former-49er). The Texans are again in the running for the No. 1 draft pick at 1-8-1 as it doesn’t look like it’ll get any better with the No. 30 offense and No. 31 defense. It’s hard to make a case for the Texans; however, as I’ve written tons of time this season, parity is alive and well in the NFL. Besides, double-digit underdogs are 10-4 ATS this season, plus the Texans are 2-0 ATS in that role as they covered as 10-point road dogs in a 16-9 loss at the Broncos in Week 2 and as 14-point home dogs vs. the Eagles in a 29-17 loss in Week 9. In addition, our Best Bet of Week 11 ended up being the Panthers +13 vs, Ravens as we were also fading a double-digit favorite coming off a bye (that trend now 16-6-1 ATS the last 23 times it’s happened).
Best Bet: Texans +13.5 (pool play: Texans 67/33 in ATS contests, though Dolphins still 90/10 in SU pools). Friday update: line is up to 14, which we love more.
Chicago Bears at New York Jets (-4.5)
When we jumped on the Bears on Sunday night, we didn’t believe Justin Fields’ injury was too serious. The line went as high as +6 on speculation that he could be out at least this Sunday and possibly longer; however, coach Matt Eberfus also failed to rule out Fields might be done for the season, so as of this writing on early Wednesday morning, we’re still not sure if Fields will be playing Sunday or not, But a good sign is that this line has dipped back down to 4.5, so hopefully someone knows he’ll be back in the lineup. We obviously prefer Fields to be playing, but we’ll still back the Bears with backup Trevor Siemian as this is also a play against a Jets team that has its own problems and the team possibly turning on QB Zach Wilson after their gut-wrenching 10-3 loss at the Patriots on Sunday but as well as Wilson’s lack of responsibility in his post-game comments.
Best Bet: Bears +4.5 (pool play: 60/40 in ATS contests, but Jets 60/40 in SU pools). Thursday update: Fields is looking more likely to play while the Jets have benched Wilson for Mike White, so we're liking this even more as the line is now up to +6.
Las Vegas Raiders at Seattle Seahawks (-3.5)
This was another of my early Week 12 plays on “The Greg Peterson Experience” on Sunday night as we made the point that while a lot of people have been knocking the Raiders for being 0-6 in one-score games heading into their 22-16 OT win at the Broncos on Sunday, but I feel that it’s a good sign that they’ve been in so many close games. Once again, parity is all about their being a fine line between the haves and have-nots and getting value when we’re getting enough points with our dogs. Even though the Seahawks are 6-4 and tired for first place in the NFC West while the Raiders are 3-7 and tied for last place in the AFC West, I feel this game should be closer to pick-’em as the Seahawks are No. 12 in total offense and No. 26 in total defense while the Raiders are No. 16 in total offense and No. 27 in total defense. There's a great chance this is another one-score game and decided by a late field goal one way or another.
Best Bet: Raiders +3.5 (pool play: Raiders 60/40 in ATS contests but Seahawks 55/45 in SU pools). Friday update: line is up to 4 at some books, which works for us.
Los Angeles Chargers (-4.5) at Arizona Cardinals
These two teams represented the highs and lows for yours truly in Week 11. The Chargers covered as 5-point home dogs for us on Sunday Night Football in their 30-27 loss vs, the Chiefs to wrap up a very successful NFL Sunday. But then the Cardinals were run over 38-10 by the 49ers as 8-point underdogs on Monday Night Football to give us an anticlimactic end to the weekend. So, once again, we don’t like the home dog enough to take the points even if Kyler Murray returns for the Cardinals. .
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Chargers 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 75/25 in SU pools). Thursday update: it looks like Murray is going to return, but I'm still passing.
Los Angeles Rams at Kansas City Chiefs (-14.5)
Since we’ve written so much about double-digit dogs, I’m sure many readers are assuming I’ll be on the defending Super Bowl champion Rams here, but no thanks. The Rams are really reeling with four straight losses and six of their last seven games. They’ve lost start WR Cooper Kupp and aren’t sure if QB Matthew Stafford will return this week. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have won four straight and have the inside track for the AFC’s No. 1 seed. While they’re only 4-6 ATS and I usually have no problem fading them in situations like this, this current Rams team doesn’t give me any confidence it can stay within two TDs.
Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Rams 55/45 ATS on principle, but Chiefs at least 90/10 in SU pools). Thursday update: Stafford is out, but we're still planning to pass even though the lines continues to go up.
New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers (-9)
The San Fran bandwagon has been filling up since the 49ers (6-4 and tied with the Seahawks for first place in the NFC West) added Christian McCaffrey to their offensive arsenal and they’re riding a three-game winning streak after routing the Cardinals 38-10 on Monday Night Football. Jimmy Garoppolo’s weapons now include WR/RB Deebo Samuel, TE George Kittle, WR Brandon Aiyuk (2 TDs vs. Cardinals) and they now rank No. 9 in yards per game and climbing. The 49ers also have the No. 1 defense, allowing just 283.9 yards per game. The Saints (4-7) are trying to get back in the playoff picture as they only trail the Buccaneers by 1.5 games in the NFC South. They’re coming off a 27-20 win vs. the struggling Rams after losing four of their previous five games. I might end up backing the Saints here as its defense does rank No. 12 in yards allowed per game and fares better against pocket passers like Garoppolo (Tom Brady, Derek Carr, etc.).
Best Bet: Pass for now, but possibly Saints +9 or higher (pool play: Saints 55/45 in ATS contests, but 49ers 80/20 in SU pools). Thursday update: still waiting for +10...ditto for Friday.
Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles (-7)
I’ve had a great handle on this Green Bay team all season as I’ve faded them with the Vikings, Buccaneers, Patriots, Jets, Lions and Titans while also jumping on them as dogs vs. the Bills and Cowboys. It’s tempting to take them here as 7-point road dogs, but I’m not as confident as I was in those other games. The Eagles rallied to escape with a 17-16 win at the Colts on Sunday, but I don’t trust the Packers’ defense to hold Jalen Hurts and the Eagles’ offense down enough to keep within this number. Instead, let’s tease the Eagles down under a field goal as I also don’t trust them to cover the -7 but should at least win the game outright to cover the teaser.
Best Bet: Eagles -1/Steelers +8.5 and other teasers (pool play: ).
Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts (-2.5)
We’ll end the week with a Monday nighter that fits our overall theme of having a line that’s too short to back the dog, but perfectly situated to use the Steelers in teasers, either from games on Sunday or teasing to openers for NFL Week 13. Check the Monday version of this column to see how I’m playing it on gameday. While the Colts are obviously playing better since Jeff Saturday took over as interim coach and Matt Ryan was reinstated as the starting QB, the Steelers have also been competitive as they’re 3-2 ATS in their last five games despite coming up short as 3.5-point dog in their 37-30 loss vs. the Bengals on Sunday. The teaser should help them “cover” here.
Best Bet: Steelers +8.5 in teasers (pool play: Colts 55/45 in ATS contests but closer to 70/30 in SU pools).