Welcome to the weekly Wednesday edition of “Tuley’s Takes Today” where we usually go over the full NFL schedule and now do the same for playoffs starting with super wild-card weekend.
Tuesday was also spent working on my Westgate SuperContest story for VSiN.com
with interviews of the Atlanta man who won more than $300,000 in SC Classic and also doing recaps on SC Gold and the Reboot.
For those who don’t know, we’ll give our Best Bet for each playoff game using our “dog-or-pass” approach. A big emphasis is put on timing our bets to get the best numbers, so we hope readers have made a habit of catching our weekly appearances on “The Greg Peterson Experience” (12:15 a.m. ET/9:15 p.m. PT on Sunday nights or 15 minutes into the archive) as we’re 33-20 ATS (62.2%) since the start of football season and 20-11 ATS (64.5%) since the start of November with the vast majority being our early bets on the NFL and this week included the Dolphins +11 at the Bills and the Buccaneers +3 vs. the Cowboys.
Those numbers look like they’re long-gone, so we’ll still give our opinion of what bettors should do if wagering later in the week and weekend (and then we update our “takes” in the daily columns leading up to game day). I’ll also include my “pool play” strategies that I use to just do during the regular season as I’ve been receiving more invites for playoff contests where we have to pick every game and assume many of our loyal readers are getting involved with those as well.
Note: Odds courtesy of DraftKings as of early Wednesday morning unless otherwise noted. Check out VSIN.com's live NFL odds page for current odds.
The 49ers are arguably the hottest team in the league with a 10-game winning streak and 8-2 ATS even after having to go with third-string QB Brock Purdy. They have the No. 1 defense in yards allowed per game (and giving up just 16.3 points per game) and the No. 5 offense. Even with the line possibly going to double digits, it’s hard to pull the trigger. I don’t subscribe to the faulty “it’s hard to beat a team three times” when one team is clearly superior to the other as the 49ers beat the Seahawks 21-13 (covering as 3.5-point road faves) in Week 15 and 27-7 way back Week 2 in the game in San Francisco. The only play we like in this game in the Under as you can see both of the previous meetings were more than a touchdown Under this total of 42.5 as we expect the 49ers to shut down the Seahawks’ offense again and grind out a victory.
Best Bet: Under 42.5 (pool play: Seahawks 55/45 in ATS contests on principle, but 49ers 90/10 in SU pools).
After losing their season-opener to the Commanders and then shutting out the Colts 24-0 in Week 2, the Jaguars’ 38-10 rout of the Chargers in Week 3 is where they really showed that this wasn’t the same ole Jags. The Chargers are still more of a public team, but that’s really the only reason why they’re a road favorite here. The Jaguars average more points per game (23.8 to 23.0) and allow fewer points per game (20.6 to 22.6), so I’m really tempted to say the wrong team is favored here. However, we think the better way to play this is to tease Jacksonville through the key numbers of 3 and 7 in 2-team, 6-point teasers. This is a good time to list the other advantage teasers (aka “Wong teasers” for old-timers) as we’ll use Jaguars +8 with the Giants up to +8.5 or +9 at the Vikings, Bengals down from -7 to -1 vs. the Ravens and Buccaneers from +2.5 up to +8.5 vs. the Cowboys.
Best Bet: Jaguars in teasers (pool play: Jaguars 60/40 in ATS contests and 55/45 in SU pools).
As mentioned in the intro, we grabbed the Dolphins +11 on Sunday night even though we weren’t sure who would be the QB for Miami. We’re certainly hopeful that it’ll be Tua Tagovailoa or at least Teddy Bridgewater and maybe the line move is indicative of “someone knows something.” Regardless, this is actually more of a play against the Bills, who we’ve had a lot of success against this season as they somehow always seem to let teams stick around as they’re 13-3 SU but only 8-7-1 ATS, including losing outright to these Dolphins in Week 3 and then only beating them 31-29 just three weeks ago and failing to cover as 7-point home favorites. Again, we’ll feel better about the Dolphins’ chances with Tagovailoa, but even though they didn’t score a TD in the 11-6 win vs. the Jets, Thompson did play turnover-free football and led the game-winning FG drive. And even though Tua played in the Week 16 game, don’t forget that Raheem Mostert rushed for 136 yards. Buffalo apologists will point out that Mostert is doubtful with a broken thumb, but Jeff Wilson Jr. ran for 143 vs. the Jets on Sunday. I know I’m in the minority (and I love being contrarian), but I still see the Dolphins as a live underdog.
Best Bet: Dolphins +9 or better (pool play: Dolphins 67/33 in ATS contests though Bills still 75/25 in SU pools).
The Sunday afternoon NFC wild-card game is between two teams that have “done it with mirrors” all season as their records (Vikings 13-4 and winners of the NFC North; Giants 9-7-1) far exceed their statistics as they both had a knack to win close games. These two teams met just three weeks ago in Week 16 when the Vikings beat the Giants 27-24 but failed to cover as 4.5-point home favorites in a back-and-forth game that the Giants outyarded the Vikings 445-353 but needed a TD and 2-point conversion to tie the game with 2:01 left before Greg Joseph kicked a Minnesota record 61-yard, game-winning field goal as time expired. The line for Sunday’s rematch is the Vikings -3. Some books opened -2.5 but those were bet quickly to -3, which was the margin of victory in that first meeting. The line is too short for us to bet the Giants straight, but we still see this as a one-score game and will tease them up over a touchdown.
Best Bet: Giants in teasers (pool play: Giants 55/45 in ATS contests but Vikings 67/33 in SU pools).
With the possible exception of the 49ers, the Bengals are the hottest team heading into the playoffs. They overcame the “Super Bowl loser hangover” and are 12-2 SU and 11-1-1 ATS since their 0-2 start with the push being on Sunday in their 27-16 over these same Ravens with an overly inflated closing line of -11. The line is back down to 7 even though it’s uncertain whether Lamar Jackson will be able to return for the Ravens. We have to think he will return even if he’s less than 100%, though it’s tough to back the Ravens in that case. Instead, we think the right play is to tease the Bengals under a field goal and just count on to advance with the win.
Best Bet: Bengals in teasers (pool play: Bengals 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 85/15 in SU pools).
Again, we grabbed the Buccaneers +3 on Sunday night as Tom Brady is still Tom Brady and we can’t resist taking him as a home underdog, especially against a Dallas team that we don’t trust. The Buccaneers’ defense is No. 9 in yards allowed per game – and we keep thinking back to the way it dominated in the 19-3 season-opening road win over the Cowboys – and has continually kept them in games to give Brady a chance at late-game heroics. Besides, the Brady-to-Mike Evans combo came through with 3 TD passes in the Week 17 division-clinching win vs. the Panthers, so hopefully that’s a good sign that a late rally won’t be needed. Marc Lawrence of playbook.com and Matt Youmans' “Circa Friday Night Invitational” also adds that playing against any away team in the wild-card round that is coming off a loss of 14 or more points is 14-1 ATS (93%) since 1980. We fully expect the Bucs to pull the minor upset, though we wouldn't blame those that missed the +3 to just decide to tease them up through the key numbers of 3 and 7 to +8.5.
Best Bet: Buccaneers +2.5 or better, plus teasers (pool play: Buccaneers 67/33 in ATS contests and at least 60/40 in SU pools).
Here’s the abbreviated version of our daily column with recaps of Tuesday’s betting action – including losing on Mavericks +3.5 as we dipped to 43-29-2 ATS (59.7%) and fell below 60% for the first time with our daily top play the past 74 days since late October – and try to rebound with our Best Bet for Wednesday:
CBB: Michigan State beat No. 18 Wisconsin 69-65, but it was not an upset as the Spartans closed as 1.5-point road faves. No. 2 Kansas beat Oklahoma 79-75, but didn't cover as a 10.5-point home fave.
NBA: Faves went 4-3 SU on Tuesday but dogs led 4-3 ATS. The Thunder (+1.5) covered in a 112-111 SU loss at the Heat. The upsets were by the Suns (+12 in 125-113 win at Warriors), Magic (+8.5 in 109-106 win at Blazers) and Jazz (+2.5 in 116-114 vs. Cavaliers). Home teams went 5-2 SU and 4-3 ATS. Overs led 5-2.
More NBA: On the season, favorites lead 387-221 SU with 9 games closing pick-'em while underdogs improved to 311-279-18 ATS (52.7%). Home teams lead 375-242 SU and 319-281-17 ATS (53.2%). In totals wagering, Overs improved to 319-291-7 (52.3%).
NHL: Faves/dogs split 5-5. The biggest upsets were by the Blues (+145 vs. Flames) and Devils (+130 at Hurricanes). Home/road teams split 5-5. Overs 8-2 with 1st Period Overs going 10-0. On the season, faves lead 371-241 with 19 PKs. Home teams went 323-296 with 4 neutral-site games. Unders' lead dipped to 299-297-27.
Wednesday NBA Best Bet
Pacers +5 at Knicks: We should have passed on Tuesday’s card and we almost did pass on Wednesday, but we found one play we’re banking on to get our record back over 60%. This is a mini anti-swagger play against the Knicks, who just had a five-game winning streak snapped on Monday vs. the Bucks (we usually need a 4-game streak for a full-fledged anti-swagger play). But we like that the Pacers – led by Tyrese Haliburton’s 20.3 points per game, Buddy Hield’s 18 ppg and Myles Turner’s 17 ppg – are playing their best basketball of the season, winning their last 2 games and 8 of their last 10. In addition, they’re 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games and 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games against a team with a winning record while the Knicks are 1-5 ATS in their last six home games and only beat the Pacers 109-106 in their previous meeting this season. We’re counting on another one-possession game here.