Saturday was another great day of sports betting, from World Cup soccer to the Army-Navy college football game to horse racing to pro and college basketball to hockey and everything else.
You can find all the major betting recaps below, but the highlights in the Tuley’s Takes home office were the 5-1 winner we gave out in Gulfstream’s 8th race in our “Team Tuley’s Thoroughbred Takes” column that we post each Saturday at VSiN.com and of course our Best Bet of the day in these sports columns, which was the Spurs +12 at the Heat as they not only easily covered but pulled the outright upset. That was another one of our swagger plays, which have supplemented our winning NFL plays this season as our daily top plays are on a 27-16-1 ATS (62.5%) run since Oct. 27.
We did lose a smaller play on Army-Navy Under 32.5 as we mentioned in yesterday’s column that we were playing with house money as we’ve probably cashed on three-quarters of the 16 straight Unders in that series. It was looking like a stone-cold Under again this year until Army tied the game at 10-10 in the fourth quarter and it went to overtime (where dogs and Unders go to die, right?). The two offensively challenged teams somehow then managed to each score on 25-yard TD plays on their first offensive plays of the first overtime to put the game Over the low total.
As always, we also spent part of our Saturday serving as a proxy for the big handicapping contests here in town and covering them in my sports journalist role. My weekly report on Circa Survivor and Circa Sports Million can be found elsewhere on VSiN.com
But as much fun as we’ve had all week, everything around here leads to NFL Sundays, so let’s recap the rest of Saturday’s betting action and then, as has become our custom here, we’ll rerun our column from Wednesday and update our “takes” on the full NFL Week 14 schedule. But before that, we’ll list our top plays for Sunday based on the current lines.
Soccer: Morocco upset Portugal 1-0 on Saturday in the World Cup quarterfinals as +510 underdogs (stayed Under the betting total of 2.5 goals). In the other quarterfinal, France beat England 2-1 as a -120 favorite (went Over the total of 2.5).
NBA: Faves went 5-3 SU but only 4-4 ATS as the Jazz (+11.5) covered in a 115-110 loss at the Nuggets. The upsets were by the Spurs (+12 in 115-111 win at Heat), Nets (+8 in 136-133 win at Pacers) and Warriors (+2.5 in 123-107 win vs. Celtics). Home teams also went 5-3 SU and 4-4 ATS. Overs led 5-3.
More NBA: On the season, faves lead 254-133 SU with 7 pick-’ems, but dogs hold slim overall lead at 192-181-14 ATS (51.5%). Home teams lead 243-151 SU and 201-179-14 ATS (52.9%). In totals wagering, Unders' slim lead was cut to 195-194-5 (50.1%).
CBB: No. 8 Alabama (8.5-point road dog) upset No. 1 Houston 71-65. No. 10 Arizona (-1.5) beat No. 14 Indiana 89-75 and covered on a neutral court at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Memphis (+1.5) upset No. 11 Auburn 82-73 on a neutral court in Atlanta. Penn State (10.5-point road dog) upset No. 17 Illinois 74-59.
NHL: Faves went 6-2 Saturday (they’re 24-6 the last 4 days). The upsets were by the Senators (+115 in 3-2 win at Predators) and Wild (-105 in 3-0 win at Canucks). Home/road teams split 4-4. Unders dominated at 6-1-1 with the push in Kings-Canadiens (6). On the season, faves lead 259-171 with 10 PKs. Home teams lead 225-211 with 4 neutral-site games. Unders took a 212-211-17 lead.
Sunday Best Bets
Jets +10 at Bills
Giants +7 vs. Eagles
Vikings +8/Ravens +7.5 (2-team, 6-point teaser)
Jaguars-Titans Under 41
Panthers +4 at Seahawks
Buccaneers +3.5 at 49ers
Broncos +9 vs. Chiefs
And here's the rerun of this week's breakdown of NFL Week 14:
Welcome to our Wednesday column in which we give our “takes” on the full NFL Week 14 schedule.
Without further ado, let’s get to this week’s card (even if I don't have a Best Bet on a game, I'll still give my "pool play" strategy, especially for those in contests where you have to pick every game), and then after the Monday nighter we’ll run an abbreviated version of our daily recaps along with a Best Bet for Wednesday.
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.
Las Vegas Raiders (-6) at Los Angeles Rams
Hmm, a home underdog on Thursday Night Football sure is tempting. Home dogs have been killing it all season at 40-29-4 ATS (58%), but they’re just 2-3 ATS on TNF (including the Rams +2 failing to cover in a 31-10 loss on opening night when everyone was healthy). That’s the problem as the Rams have been battling injuries all season and are without starting QB Matthew Stafford. John Wolford nearly pulled off an upset of the Seahawks on Sunday, though he was only 14-for-26 for just 178 yards and threw two INTS as L.A. dropped its sixth straight game. Even though they covered as 6.5-point home dogs vs. the Seahawks, I just don’t trust them to do that in two straight games against a Raiders offense that’s just started hitting its stride in its three-game winning streak.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Raiders in all my rare SU and ATS contests that use Thursday games). Thursday update: the line is up to 6.5 at most books, but we're still passing on the underdog Rams; we did, however, add Over 43.5 in the VSiN Best Bet story for Thursday Night Football on the website as well as our play of the day above. Friday update: LOSER...but we turn our attention to Sunday's card.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (-2.5)
This is the most surprising line move of the week as the Vikings (10-2) opened as short road favorites, but the line has flipped to the Lions being favored. Regular readers of this column know that the Lions have been one of my preferred teams to back the past two seasons (they were 11-6 ATS last year despite a 3-13-1 SU record and are 8-4 ATS this year, including five covers in a row). While the Lions did cover as short 1-point faves in their 40-14 rout of the Jaguars on Sunday, the last time they were favored (and the only other time this season) was as 3-point chalk vs. the Seahawks in Week 4 as they lost 48-45. This is a clear case of where we love to fade a team in the unfamiliar favorite’s role; however, we feel more confident in just using the Vikings in 2-team, 6-point teasers and count on the Vikings to play another one-score game (they are 9-0 in one-score games so far this season, so we still might take the regular spread or on the money line).
Best Bet: Vikings +8.5 in teasers (pool play: Vikings 55/45 in all SU and ATS contests). Friday update: line is down to Lions -2 and even -1.5 at some books, but Vikings still teasable up to +7.5 or better. Saturday update: in the VSiN Best Bets column at VSiN.com, I included this as a play at Vikings +8/Ravens +8.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-9.5)
We gave this out as Jets +10 on our regular appearance on “The Greg Peterson Experience” (12:15 a.m. ET/9:15 p.m. PT Sunday night) and in the Monday version of this column. I’ve been encouraging regular readers to turn in each Sunday night as my plays on that show going 27-12 ATS (69.2%) since the start of the football season and 14-3 ATS (82.4%) since the start of November (the latter have all been early NFL picks for the following week). Double-digit dogs are 11-7 ATS (61.1%) this season, but we also faded these same Bills when they were 9.5-point faves at the Lions on Thanksgiving and covered as the Lions only lost 28-25. We also cashed with the Jets +10.5 in the first meeting between these two teams this season in the Bills’ 20-17 win in Week 9 and the Packers +10.5 the week before as the Bills only won 27-17. The Bills have been letting teams stick around all season as they’re only 5-6-1 ATS. The Jets failed to cover as 3-point dogs in their 27-22 loss at the Vikings last week, but they had their chances and we expect another one-score game here as the Vikings also went toe-to-toe with the Bills in their classic 33-30 battle in Week 10.
Best Bet: Jets +9.5 or better (pool play: Jets 67/33 in ATS contests, but Bills still 70/30 in SU pools). Friday update: Jets went back to +10 at most books on Thursday and still widely available as of early Saturday. Sunday update: Circa Sports in Las Vegas and some offshore books have gone to 10.5, so shop for best number.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5)
This is the time of year when a lot of quarterbacks start falling by the wayside as the hits keep piling. Lamar Jackson is expected to miss this start for the Ravens (8-4), who are tied with the Bengals atop the AFC North. Tyler Huntley stepped in for Jackson and Sunday and rallied the Ravens to a 10-9 win vs. the Broncos, though they failed to cover as 8.5-point faves. The Ravens were -4.5 on the advance line for this game last week, but it’s flipped to the Steelers being small chalk with the falloff from Jackson to Huntley. The Steelers (5-7) have won two straight games (at the Colts and Falcons) as they try to avoid coach Mike Tomlin having his first losing season. We still give the edge to the Ravens, but not enough to win outright as the safer play is to tease them up through the key numbers of 3 and 7.
Best Bet: Ravens +8.5 in teasers (pool play: Ravens 55/45 in all SU and ATS contests). Friday update: just like Vikings-Lions game, line mostly down to Steelers -2 but Ravens still in "teaser zone."
Philadelphia Eagles (-7) at New York Giants
The Eagles (11-1) still have the NFL’s best record and the inside track on the NFC’s No. 1 seed/first-round bye with a one-game lead over the Vikings (plus the tiebreaker for beating them in Week 2). However, the NFC East still isn’t secured as they only have a two-game lead over the Cowboys (and a rematch coming up in Week 15), plus this is the first of two games vs. the Giants (7-4-1). The Eagles have the No. 3 offense and No. 2 defense in yard gained and yards allowed per game, while the Giants have done it with errors as the offense ranked No. 22 and the defense is No. 23. Despite their lofty record, the Eagles were only 5-5 ATS before back-to-back covers in their 40-33 win vs. the Packers as 6.5-point home favorites and 35-10 rout of the Titans as 4.5-point home faves to improve to 7-5 ATS. But now they’re on the road where they’re only 1-4 ATS. The Giants have been exceeding expectations all season and are 9-3 ATS (5-2 ATS at home) after covering as 2.5-point home underdogs in their 20-20 tie vs. the Commanders on Sunday. This line has risen to Eagles -7, making the Giants a live home dog. NFL teams in that role are 40-29-4 ATS (58%), including 7-1 ATS when getting 7 points or more.
Best Bet: Giants +7 (pool play: Giants 67/55 in ATS contests – less if offered only +6.5 – but Eagles still 70/30 in SU pools). Friday update: BetMGM and some other books up to 7.5, so let's wait to see where the line peaks.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-6)
Deshaun Watson’s season debut was anticlimactic as he was 12-for-22 for just 131 yards and an INT for a QBR of 28.5 and didn’t lead the offense to a score until a FG early in the fourth quarter. The Browns’ only TDs in their 27-14 win over the lowly Texans were on a punt return and two defensive TDs. We expect an improved performance from Watson along with RB Nick Chubb, who is second in the NFL with 1,119 rushing yards. Even with Jacoby Brissett starting the first 12 games of the season, the Browns are No. 6 in average yards per game (just behind the Bengals at No. 5), so the potential is there. Meanwhile, the Bengals (8-4) have survived the “Super Bowl loser hangover” for the part as they’re tied for the AFC North lead with the Ravens, but could be due for a letdown after beating the Chiefs 27-24 on Sunday. Marc Lawrence of playbook.com (and a contestant in the Circa Friday Invitational on VSiN on Friday nights) also shares a system that teams like the Bengals that went from worst to first in their division the prior season are 42-66-3 ATS, including 11-29 ATS as division hosts. Fade away.
Best Bet: Browns +6 (pool play: Browns 60/40 in ATS contests but Bengals still 70/30 in SU pools). Friday update: line down to Bengals -5.5, but we'll see if it bounces back.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (-3.5)
Despite getting blown out 35-10 by the Eagles, the Titans (7-5) still hold a three-game lead in the AFC South over the Colts (4-8-1) and these Jaguars (4-8), which they face twice in the final five weeks. That was the second straight loss for the Titans, who started the season 0-2 but went 7-1 (and 8-0 ATS) in-between. Tennessee’s offense ranks just No. 29 in yards per game as it relies a lot on RB Derrick Henry, who is third in the league with 1,078 rushing yards. QB Ryan Tannehill has mostly succeeded in the game-manager role, but he was sacked six times by the Eagles and wasn’t able to rally the Titans when they fell behind, which is a concern. The Jaguars have looked much-improved at times this season – including upsets of the Colts, Chargers, Raiders and Ravens – but they’ve still lacked consistency with a middle-of-the-road No. 17 scoring offense (behind second-year QB Trevor Lawrence) and a No. 25 defense. The Titans still aren’t receiving much respect from oddsmakers and the public, so this line is too short for me to take the dog, though I like the Under 41.5 points as I don’t expect either offense to put up a lot of points in what looks like a 17-13 game or something similar.
Best Bet: Under 41.5 (pool play: Titans 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 70/30 in SU pools). Thursday update: we were on the right side of the line move as the total is down to 41 at most books; I wouldn't take the Under at anything less.
Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys (-17)
Regular readers know we love double-digit NFL dogs (and mentioned above that they’ve justified that love this season at 11-7 ATS), but there are times where I still don’t think I’m getting enough points and this is one of those. The Texans did cover for us earlier this season as DD dogs vs. the Broncos and Eagles, but two weeks ago they failed to cover as 14-point dogs in their 30-15 loss at the Dolphins and then this past Sunday they also came up short as 7.5-point home dogs in a 27-14 loss vs. the Browns even though Deshaun Watson was rusty in his first start. Now, they have to face a Cowboys offense that has put up 49, 28, 40, 28 and 54 points in its last five games and a defense that has allowed an average of just 14 points in their last three games. No thanks.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Texans 55/45 in ATS contests on principle, but Cowboys in all SU pools). Friday update: line up to 17.5 but we're still passing (probably...check back on Sunday). Sunday update: I still haven't bet the Texans, though I am using in more of my weekly ATS pools where I have to pick every game.
Miami Dolphins (-3.5) at Los Angeles Chargers
VSiN colleague Matt Youmans and I have been saying for years to fade the Chargers as favorites but back the a underdogs. The Chargers are actually 0-4 SU as dogs this season, but 3-1 ATS, though the lone non-cover was in their 27-20 loss at the Raiders this past Sunday after closing as 2.5-point road dogs. But that setback is part of the reason I can’t pull the trigger on them this week as the defense has allowed 27, 24 and 27 points the last three weeks and now is being asked to slow down a Miami offense that had scored 30 or more points in four straight games before being held to just 17 by the 49ers on Sunday. I don’t expect the Chargers defense to pull off that feat.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Dolphins 55/45 in AT contests and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).
Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks (-4.5)
The Seahawks (7-5) rallied to beat the Rams 27-23 in Week 13 to stay one game behind the 49ers in the NFC West and in the thick of the wild-card race with the teams in the NFC East. Geno Smith continues to shine after inheriting the QB job from Russell Wilson and leads the league’s No. 9 offense in yards per game (No. 5 in scoring), though we’re waiting to see if RB Kenneth Walker III’s ankle sprain responds throughout the week. Seattle doesn’t have a Legion of Doom defense anymore, ranking No. 30 in yards allowed per game, so that’s part of the reason they’re only 6-point favorites in this matchup with the Panthers (4-8). Carolina is coming out of its bye week and interim coach Steve Wilks has decided to stay with Sam Darnold at QB after he led the team to a 23-10 win vs. the Broncos. The Panthers also rely on RB D’Onta Foreman, who has four 100-yard games in his last six starts since replacing the departed Christian McCaffrey. Despite splitting those games 3-3 SU, the Panthers are actually on a 5-1 ATS run as they have been more competitive than expected as they’ve upset the Buccaneers, Falcons and Broncos while also covering in SU losses to Falcons and Ravens. I’m a little leery of this as the number feels a little short, but gimme the points.
Best Bet: Panthers +4.5 (pool play: Panthers 60/40 in ATS contests but Seahawks still 70/30 in SU pools). Thursday update: again, we hope readers grabbed the better number as it's down to 3.5 at most books. Sunday update: Seattle was the most-selected team in Circa Sports Million and a lot of books are back up to 4.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers (-3.5)
The Buccaneers continue to struggle on offense at No. 17 in yards per game, and I’ve been happy to fade them several times this season, including with the Saints +6 early and +3.5 late this past Monday night. Tom Brady ended up rallying the Bucs to a 17-16 win but still didn’t cover. But now you’re telling me I can get Brady vs. Brock Purdy – and 3.5 points? Thank you very much. According to Lawrence again at playbook.com, Brady is 41-17-1 ATS (70.7%) as a dog in his career, including 17-5 ATS (77.3%) when coming off an ATS loss. The 49ers have the better overall team at this point, but I wouldn’t trust them in the favorite role with Purdy – and you know Brady is going to do his best to keep his team in the game like he did again Monday night.
Best Bet: Buccaneers +3.5 (pool play: Buccaneers 60/40 in ATS contest, but 49ers still 55/45 in SU pools). Thursday update: in this case, the +3.5 is still widely available but a lot of books have gone to +3.5 -120.
Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) at Denver Broncos
We cashed with the Broncos 8.5 at the Ravens this Sunday as one of our early NFL picks that have been so hot, and we’ll count on their No. 3 defense to keep them close enough and then have Russell Wilson and the struggling Denver offense do just enough to get the point-spread cover like they did in the 10-9 loss on Sunday. That improved them to 4-3 ATS in the underdog role. We don’t expect this to be as low-scoring defense with the Chiefs’ high-powered No. 1 offense, but the Chiefs (9-3) do tend to let teams stick around as they’re 4-8 ATS on the season, including 3-7 ATS as chalk.
Best Bet: Broncos +9.5 (pool play: Broncos 60/40 in ATS contests, though Chiefs still 75/25 in SU pools). Saturday update: most books down to +9, but I'd still play it at +8.5 or higher.
New England Patriots (-1.5) at Arizona Cardinals
These have been two tough teams to figure out this season. The Cardinals are coming off their bye and have played better since the return of WR DeAndre Hopkins, though they’re still only 2-4 SU and ATS since then, so we’re unable to take the short number here, but certainly willing to tease them up over a TD with some teasers on Sunday or starting new teasers for the week on Monday. Check our daily updates through the weekend as I finalize how I’m going to play these.
Best Bet: Cardinals +7.5 in teasers (pool play: Patriots 60/40 in SU and ATS contests).