Friday was a fun day in the Tuley’s Takes home office as the bowl season kicked off and we moved closer to the continuation of NFL Week 15.
That was especially true as we had to get a head-start on submitting picks for our proxy clients in the Vegas football contests with the three coming up on Saturday, including two that start before the regular Circa Sports Million submission deadline of 4 p.m. PT and all of them before the Westgate SuperContest’s 11:59 p.m. PT deadline.
I didn’t have a Best Bet on either of the bowl underdogs on Friday, but I’m in a ton of contests and middled The Bahamas Bowl as I used UAB in all my straight-up contests (with high numbers in the confidence pools) while using Miami-Ohio at +10.5 or +11.5 in all my ATS contests (some of which are also confidence pools). That was a great way to start the bowl season as UAB rallied to win 24-20 but didn’t cover.
As for my only bet of the day – and my Best Bet in yesterday’s version of this column – I won with the Atlanta Hawks +2 at the Charlotte Hornets. I was surprised that I was able to fade the Hornets as chalk for the second time this week but gladly took the points as the Hawks coasted to a 125-106 victory.
That was our fourth straight Best Best winner this week and improved our record to 32-17-1 ATS (65.3%) the last 50 days or 7 weeks and a day. We love to hear from readers who have been along for the ride.
Let’s recap the rest of Friday's betting action and then look for Best Bets on Saturday in both college and pro football. Then, as has become our custom here, I’ll rerun my Wednesday column in which I update my “takes” on the full NFL Week 15 schedule.
CFB: UAB rallied to beat Miami-Ohio 24-20 in The Bahamas Bowl to kick off bowl season, but did NOT cover as an 11-point favorite (the game stayed Under the betting total of 46 points). No. 24 Troy (+3) rallied to upset No. 25 UTSA 18-12 in the Cure Bowl (stayed Under 56.5). Underdogs start the bowls 1-1 SU and 2-0 ATS. Unders also swept 2-0.
NBA: Faves/dogs split 5-5 SU Friday with dogs leading 6-4 ATS as the Pacers (+8) covered in 118-112 loss at Cavaliers. The upsets were by the Magic (+13 at Celtics), Timberwolves (+4.5 at Thunder), Knicks (+3 at Bulls), Hawks (+2.5 at Hornets) and Lakers (+2 vs. Nuggets). Road teams went 6-4 SU and 7-3 ATS. Over/Unders split 5-5.
More NBA: On the season, faves lead 279-151 SU w/ 7 pick-’ems, but dogs still lead 214-201-15 ATS (51.6%). Home teams lead 268-169 SU and 224-198-15 ATS (53.1%). In totals wagering, Overs hold slim lead at 219-213-5 (50.7%).
NHL: Dogs went 2-1 (after going 6-5 on Thursday). The upsets were by the Blues (+190 at Flames) and Coyotes (+160 vs. Islanders). Home teams went 2-1 and Overs were also 2-1. On the season, faves still lead 281-188 with 13 PKs. Home teams lead 248-230 with 4 neutral-site games. Unders' slim lead dipped to 238-227-17.
ICYMI…NFL after Thursday Night Football: On the season, faves lead 131-72-2 SU with 4 games closing pick-'em, but dogs still lead 108-91-6 ATS (54.3%). Home teams still lead 111-90-2 SU with 6 neutral-site games and 101-96-6 ATS (51.3%). Unders lead 115-92-2 (55.6%) and primetime Unders improved to 25-18-1 (58.1%) in games on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights.
Saturday Best Bets
Dolphins +7 at Bills: This is my favorite play of the day with the Dolphins getting a touchdown in the rematch after proving they can play with the Bills in their first meeting with a 21-19 victory. More details below – and I know playing in Buffalo in December is a lot different than Miami in September – but we still love the Dolphins in this spot.
BYU +4.5 vs. SMU: Like the Dolphins pick, I also gave this out on “The Greg Peterson Experience” last Sunday night when it was BYU +1.5. Now, the Cougars have had plenty of opt-outs, including injured starting QB Jaren Hall that caused this line to go as high as SMU -5. I’ve had a lot of winners over the years with backup QBs being able to jump in and have success in a successful offensive system (as the market typically overadjusts in these situations) and Cade Fennegan at least has some experience before transferring from Boise State. Besides, the SMU defense hasn’t stopped many teams this year, so I expect BYU to be in this the whole game.
Here's the rerun of our full breakdown of NFL Week 15. Updates are in italics as we track our plays through the weekend:
Welcome to our Wednesday column in which we give our “takes” on the full NFL Week 15 schedule.
We went 3-2 ATS with our top plays in Week 14 (wins on Jets, Panthers and Broncos, but losses on Giants and Buccaneers), though we lost our top teasers on the Vikings +8.5/Ravens +7.5 and then lost a Cardinals +7.5/Under 50 teaser on Monday Night Football to wrap up last week/start this calendar week.
Still, we’re having a great football season thanks to underdogs still barking at 108-90-6 ATS (54.5%) while our pet plays of home dogs are 43-31-4 ATS (58.1%) while double-digit dogs are 13-7 ATS (65%).
In addition, we’re been stressing to our readers/followers to listen to our regular appearances on "The Greg Peterson Experience” (12:15 a.m. ET/9:15 p.m. Sunday nights or 15 minutes into the archived version) as, even with the losing Cardinals/Under teaser, we’re still 29-14 ATS (67.4%) since the start of the season (the majority of which have been early NFL plays) and 16-5 ATS (76.2%) since the start of November (all of which have been on the NFL).
Per usual, even if we don’t have a Best Bet on a game, we add our “pool play” strategy, especially for those in contests where you have to pick every game.
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.
San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) at Seattle Seahawks
It’s tempting to take a home underdog on Thursday Night Football with the road team obviously facing the obstacle of a short week, but those TNF dogs are only 2-3 ATS this season (though one of the losses was the Rams in the season-opener when neither team was facing a short week). Besides, this line seems short at just over a field goal. The 49ers’ bandwagon is filling up even with third-string Brock “Mr. Irrelevant” Purdy taking over at QB and losing WR Deebo Samuel, though he’s now expected to return before the end of the regular season. I just can’t pull the trigger on a Seattle team that has certainly come down to earth after their surprisingly strong start. Besides, the 49ers’ dominated the Seahawks 27-7 on both sides of the ball back in Week 2 and I don’t see this being any different with the 49ers having the No. 1 defense in yards allowed per game and the Seahawks ranking No, 28.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: 49ers in all my rare pools that include Thursday Night Football).
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns (-3)
This is first in the official Nevada rotation on Saturday, but is actually the middle game at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT. It might surprise some people to see the Browns – who haven’t been too impressive since the return of Deshaun Watson – actually favored here, but the Ravens have their own QB problems with Lamar Jackson still expected to be out this week and Tyler Huntley in concussion protocol.. Will he be cleared to play by Saturday, or will undrafted rookie Anthony Brown (Oregon) get his first start? I’m likely to be on the Ravens as a short dog in some way like they were last week at Pittsburgh (possibly in teasers?), but I want to get more information on the QB situation. Please check my updated column later in the week.
Best Bet: Ravens in teasers (pool play: Ravens 60/40 in ATS contests – lower if only offered +2.5 – and around 55/50 in SU pools, though that could flip if Brown starts for Ravens). Friday update: it looks like Tyler Huntley is trending toward being able to start again, so let's tease the Ravens up over a touchdown to +8.5 or +9. Saturday update: let's start the weekend with a 2-team, 6-point teaser with the Ravens +8.5 to the Lions +7.5 on Sunday
Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings (-4)
This is the Saturday opener at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT. This is another case where I just don’t feel I’m getting enough points with the underdog. The Colts are playing better since Jeff Saturday took over as interim coach, but they’ve still lost their last three games after he won his debut against the Raiders. The Vikings now have the league’s worst defense at 40.3.7 yards allowed per game (after averaging a whopping 453 yards per game given up in the last three games), but I don’t trust the Colts to take advantage.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Vikings 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-7.5)
The Saturday nightcap lost some of its luster with the Dolphins’ Week 14 loss to the Chargers as they fell two games behind the Bills in the AFC East. But it’s still an important Week 15 game as the Bills (10-3) are trying to secure the AFC’s No. 1 seed and first-round bye while the Dolphins (8-5) are currently in the thick of the wild-card chase with a one-game lead over four 7-6 teams trying for the last two spots. The Dolphins were tied with the Bills before their current two-game losing streak and still have a chance to catch them with a win here as they would hold the tiebreaker with a season sweep as they beat them 21-19 back in Week 3 in Miami. That fact does make it appear the current 7.5-point spread is too high, especially since they’re only 6-7 ATS on the season (they’ve been favored in every game) and recently failed to cover in wins over the Lions on Thanksgiving and Jets last Sunday. Even though they’re No. 2 in yards per game and No. 9 in yards allowed per game, they tend to let teams stick around and the Dolphins have the weapons to keep up with the Bills again.
Best Bet: Dolphins +7.5 (pool play: Dolphins 70/30 in ATS contests, but Bills still 67/33 in SU pools). Thursday update: This line is mostly down to 7, so we hope those of you with us grabbed the hook just in case.
Note: We usually stick to the official Nevada rotation order, but the Giants-Commanders game that is listed as the first game on the Sunday betting board was actually flexed to the Sunday Night Football game, so we’re moving it to that spot above the Monday Night Football game. We now continue our Week 14 “takes” already in progress . . .
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (-4.5)
If you took a preseason poll asking which of these teams in this Week 15 matchup would be one game behind the Buccaneers in the NFC South, not many would have picked the Falcons (5-8), but they’re a full game ahead of the Saints (4-8). The Falcons had a chance to pass the Bucs and actually be leading the division but have lost two straight and four of five. Rookie QB Desmond Ridder is now replacing Marcus Mariota and making his first NFL start against the Saints’ No. 11 defense. The Saints were actually 5.5-point road favorites when they beat the Falcons 27-26 (but did not cover) way back in the season opener but have won only three games since. The Saints are also 5-8 ATS while the Falcons are 7-6 ATS (but that’s after a 6-0 ATS start, so they’re 1-6 ATS in their last seven games). It’s tempting to take the Falcons as dogs in the rematch. While the Falcons made the move at QB to address the offense, but I’m not getting enough points with a rookie QB against a pretty solid defense (Saints rank No. 11 in yards allowed per game), plus the Falcons have the No. 30 defense.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Saints 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 70/30 in SU pools). Friday update: I added Over 43.5 to the VSiN.com Best Bets file as I think that's a better play than the side.
Detroit Lions at New York Jets (-1)
As I’ve written many times, the Lions have been one of favorite dogs to bet the past 1 3/4 seasons as they were 11-6 ATS in 2021 despite a 3-13-1 SU record and 9-3 ATS this season. Unfortunately, I faded them with the Vikings at +8.5 in teasers last week and lost as the Lions kicked a late FG for a 34-23 victory. I was hoping to be on the Lions this week as road dogs at the Jets, but even though DraftKings was still at Jets -1 late Tuesday night, most books have gone to pick-’em and there’s a good chance the Lions will be bet to favoritism. I’m not willing to flip to the Jets as short home dogs (or pick-’em). Basically, this is a coin-flip game we like to avoid.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Lions 51/49 in all SU and ATS contests, or basically splitting all my entries). Thursday update: this has gone to pick-'em at even more books, so it's out of the so-called "teaser zone." Friday update: the line has reversed and is now up to 1.5 at several books, so we can tease the Lions up to +7.5
Kansas City Chiefs (-14) at Houston Texans
Regular readers know we love double-digit underdogs – they went 2-0 ATS last week with these Texans +17 at the Cowboys as well as the Jets +10 at the Bills to improve to 13-7 ATS (65%) on the season – and feel even stronger when they’re DD home dogs. We gave this out on “The Greg Peterson Experience” on Sunday night because we felt that sharp bettors would be all over the Texans after they nearly beat the Cowboys outright (and they’re 3-1 ATS as double-digit dogs already this season with other covers in losses vs. the Broncos and Eagles and the only loss being by 1 point – 30-15 loss as 14-point dog in Week 11 at the Dolphins). Besides, we’d like to think that even the chalk-loving public would be reluctant to lay big points again after getting burned by the Chiefs on Sunday as they jumped out to a 27-0 lead on the Broncos and still didn’t cover as 9-point road favorites in a 34-28 victory. The Chiefs are 0-2 ATS as double-digit faves with non-covering wins vs. the Titans and Rams). The line hasn’t dipped as expected, but I feel that just gives more followers the opportunity to take the generous points.
Best Bet: Texans +14 (pool play: Texans 75/25 in ATS contests – and all if offered +14.5 – but Chiefs still 90/10 in SU pools). Saturday update: this line has been 14 week but went to +15 at Circa on Friday, so shop around.
Philadelphia Eagles (-9) at Chicago Bears
Justin Fields has made the Bears more competitive than expected this season, but the fact remains that the Chicago defense allows 25.8 points per game and they’ve still lost six straight games. I had some success earlier this season fading the Eagles during their rise to the best record in the league as they were letting teams stick around (highlights being the Texans covering +14 on Thursday Night Football and the Commanders dealing them their lone loss at +11 on Monday Night Football), but the Eagles have won and covered the last three weeks and I’m not as thrilled with fading them anymore (or at least not with the Bears at this time).
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Eagles 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers (-2.5)
When Baker Mayfield rallied the Rams to a 17-16 vs. the Raiders in the Week 14 Thursday nighter, a lot of people wondered if the Panthers should have kept him. However, Sam Darnold has been just fine since taking over the starting QB job and has led back-to-back wins over the Broncos and Seahawks to move within one game of the Buccaneers in the NFC South. Advance lines for this game has the Steelers as short road favorites, but now the Panthers are favored, which chalk bettors should be aware that they’re 0-3 SU and ATS as faves this season. The Steelers have their own QB issues, too, so I’m not ready to pull the trigger with the couple of points, though I might add them as a teaser play later in the week.
Best Bet: Pass for now, possibly Steelers in teasers (pool play: Panthers 55/45 in ATS contests and around 65/35 in SU pools). Saturday update: our preferred teaser play in Sunday's early games will be Lions +7.5 to the Steelers +9 regardless who starts at QB for Pittsburgh.
Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Both these teams have been confusing bettors all season. The Cowboys (10-3 SU but only 8-5 ATS) escaped with a 27-23 victory last week in a non-covering win vs. the Texans (a one-win team that beat these same Jaguars 13-6 back in Week 5 as 7-point dogs). After their Week 6 loss to the Eagles, the Cowboys routed the Lions and Bears in easy covers but then lost outright to the Packers in Week 10. They won four straight since then, but failed to cover in the wins vs. the Giants and Texans. Meanwhile, the Jaguars (5-8 SU and ATS) have looked competitive and downright good in their upsets of the Colts, Chargers, Raiders, Ravens and last Sunday against the Titans, but have been the same ole Jaguars in their losses (note: they’ve yet to cover a game as dogs without winning outright). It’s interesting to note that while the Cowboys rank No. 10 in total offense with 359.6 yards per game, the Jaguars are surprisingly right behind them at No. 11 and 357.5 yards per game with the improving Trevor Lawrence. The big difference is the Cowboys, despite their poor performance against the Texans, have the No. 5 defense while the Jaguars rank No. 27, so I can’t get on-board as the line seems light.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Cowboys 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 70/30 in SU pools).
Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos (-3)
The Mountain Time Zone isn’t seeing much good NFL football this season as both teams have underperformed, and now the Cardinals are without QB Kyler Murray. I’m actually OK with Colt McCoy, but not in this case as the Broncos’ defense still ranks No. 7 in yards allowed per game after standing up to Patrick Mahomes in Denver’s cover as 9-point dogs in a 34-28 loss to the Chiefs. The Broncos’ No. 27 offense even woke up against the Chiefs and should also have success against an Arizona defense that now allows a league-worst 26.8 points per game after giving up an average of 30 points in its last three games, even if they have to turn to Brett Rypien if Russell Wilson doesn’t pass through the concussion protocol.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Broncos 55/45 in ATS contests and 65/35 in SU pools).
Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Chargers (-3)
The Titans have had a roller-coaster of a season as they started 0-2, then went on a 7-1 SU and 8-0 ATS run but are now on a three-game losing streak. They still have a two-game lead over the Jaguars in the AFC South. I still like them as underdogs (they’re 4-2 ATS in the role this season) but was hoping to get +3.5 in this game. The Chargers’ bandwagon is filling up after their 23-17 upset of the Dolphins on Sunday Night Football, so I was hoping this line would get bet higher; however, the books have been adding juice to the +3 and it’s looking more likely to dip to 2.5. At this point, I’m making the Titans my favorite teaser leg of the week and will only take the points if it reverses direction to give me the hook.
Best Bet: Titans in teasers (pool play: Titans 55/45 in ATS contests – higher at +3.5, lower at +2.5 – with Chargers 55/45 in SU pools).
Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I gotta tell you, it’s frustrating to see so many home underdogs but I’m trying to be selective and not just play them blindly. I want to back Tom Brady in that role, but it certainly didn’t work at the 49ers last week. Granted, the Bengals’ defense (ranked No. 14 in yards allowed per game) isn’t as good as the 49ers, but the Bengals are still 9-2 in their last 11 games after their 0-2 start. The Bengals are also 7-1 SU and ATS in their last eight games as chalk and three of those were as road faves.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Bengals 55/45 in ATS contests and 67/33 in SU pools).
New England Patriots (-1) at Las Vegas Raiders
This joins Steelers-Panthers and possibly Lions-Jets with a change of favorite as the Raiders were favored on the advance lines for this game, but their 17-16 loss at the Rams (just the latest in a season of late-game collapses) and the Patriots’ 27-13 win at the Cardinals on Monday night have moved the Pats to favoritism. New England is mostly relying on its No. 8 defense to claw back into the AFC wild-card race as they’ve gone 4-2 in their last six games (with only losses to the Vikings and Bills). I can’t back the Raiders as just 1-point dogs, but I’ll add them to my teaser portfolio if it moves any more in the Patriots’ direction as the Raiders are at least good enough to make this another one-score game (they’ve only lost one game this year by more than 7 points).
Best Bet: Pass for now, Raiders possibly in teasers (pool play: Patriots 60/40 in SU and ATS contests). Friday update: most books have moved the Raiders to favoritism at -1, so we no longer are looking to tease them.
New York Giants at Washington Commanders (-4.5)
This game was flexed to Sunday Night Football, so hopefully it’s a competitive game. It should be as both are 7-5-1 and batting for NFC wild-card spots with the Seahawks and Lions looming. We’ve been among the chorus of people saying the Giants were “doing it with mirrors” with their early-season success – and they still rank just No. 23 in total offense and No. 26 in total defense. However, I’m willing to back them here as I’m not buying the Commanders as 4.5-point home favorites, even though they are 2-0 ATS in their only times in that role this season. But the biggest reason I can give that this game should be closer to pick-’em is because these two teams just played to a 20-20 tie. In fact, in a schedule quirk, that was the Commanders’ last game as they’re playing the Giants two games in a row. Gimme the Giants at anything more than a field goal.
Best Bet: Giants +4.5 (pool play: Giants 67/33 in ATS contests and let’s call for the outright upset at 55/45 in SU pools). Thursday update: this has actually been bet up to 5 at some books, but we don't mind fading such a move.
Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers (-7)
Baker Mayfield didn’t start the Thursday Night Football game against the Raiders after just one practice with the Rams, but it looks like he’ll be starting Monday night at Lambeau Field. Now, I’m not saying all the Rams’ problems are solved, but the fact remains that the Packers are still also having a major down season and shouldn’t be favored by this many points against just about anyone. They’re just 2-2 SU and 1-3 ATS this season as faves of 7 points or more (and if Justin Fields’ QB sneak had been given the TD it deserved, the Packers probably would have failed to cover in that game, too). The Rams’ running offense has also struggled this season, but it should have success against the Packers along with Mayfield.
Best Bet: Rams +7 (pool play: Rams 60/40 in ATS contests but Packers still 75/25 in SU pools). Saturday update: this line has stayed at +7 and we're liking it more and more.