Tuley's Takes: NFL season-long bets

September 3, 2023 10:23 AM

While college football is the major focus of this Labor Day Weekend, I’m sure you’re just like us in the Tuley’s Takes home office with an eye toward next week’s start of the NFL season.

We trust VSiN subscribers have already started digging into the updated NFL Season Betting Guide, and that’s what we’re going to do here with an updated look at my earlier season-long bets that I gave out in the original version of the Betting Guide that came out earlier this year in June, and then add some more bets we’re making with the regular season approaching fast.

Cincinnati Bengals to win Super Bowl (+1100), AFC (+550)

I first gave out the Bengals as my “too soon” pick to win the 2024 Super Bowl right after the 2023 Super Bowl in February. And they still seem to be the best betting value on the board as they were still +550 to win the AFC and +1100 to win the Super Bowl in the VSiN NFL Betting Guide and still those same odds at DraftKings as of Sunday morning, Sept. 3.

The Bengals went toe-to-toe with the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game before losing 23-20 on a last-second field goal after making it to the Super Bowl the year before. There’s no reason to think they won’t continue to be right in the mix. QB Joe Burrow should lead an explosive offense (No. 7 in the league last season at 25.7 points per game) and vastly underrated defense (No. 5 at 19.7 points per game).

We’d feel even better about these wagers if the Bengals could secure home-field advantage, which could be tough as they have to hold off a solid Baltimore Ravens team in the AFC North. However, I feel the Bengals are still the better team, plus they’ve had the number of both the Bills and Chiefs in recent years and are fully capable of running the table.

I’m still on the fence about betting the Bengals Over their season win total. It was at 11 at some books, which is pretty steep, but as of Sunday, Sept. 3, DraftKings had it at Over 10.5 -130. As stated above, we’re hoping the Bengals contend for the AFC’s No. 1 seed (which would require them to go Over 10.5), but not sure it’s worth risking another wager as opposed to just putting more on the higher conference/Super Bowl payoffs.

Minnesota Vikings Over 8.5 wins (-125), win NFC North (+290), 

After the Super Bowl, I took a flier on the Vikings to win next year’s Super Bowl at 40-1. I loved the trio of QB Kirk Cousins, RB Dalvin Cook and WR Justin Jefferson along with the supporting cast enough to see them in contention again. They released Cook, and a lot of people are down on their chances for this upcoming season, but I still think it’s an overreaction to drop their Over/Under Season Win Total to 8.5 after this team won 13 last season.

Yes, I know how they were lucky to win so many one-score games, but I don’t think that should be held against them this much. The same goes for the NFC North race. DraftKings had the Vikings at +250 when the Betting Guide was published (now +290) to repeat as division champs with the Lions the favorite at +130 after going 9-8 last season.

Believe me, I’ve happily cashed on the Lions as underdogs many times in the past two years and am as impressed as anyone with how much they’ve improved under coach Dan Campbell and with Jared Goff re-booting his career. But, and this is a big BUT, it’s hard for a team to take a second big leap after improving so much from year to year. I still believe the Vikings still have enough to hold them off to win the NFC North at the generous price of +290.

So, if I like the Vikings to defend their divisional title, I have to like the Over 8.5 (-125) Season Win Total as well as it’s certainly going to take at least 9 wins to win the NFC North. I don’t expect the Vikings to go 13-4 like last year and I know a lot of people are jumping off their bandwagon because they were lucky to win so many one-score games, but I certainly don’t see them losing 5 more games and finishing below .500.

Besides, as much as people are down on the Vikings, they’re still favored in 11 of their 17 games this season on the advance lines at several books. Now, I certainly know that just because a team is favored doesn’t mean it’s an automatic “win” when you’re going through the schedule, but they should win at least seven of those. Of the other six games in which they’re underdogs, four of those are under a field goal so there’s no reason they can’t split those to get to nine wins if we’re being conservative, though we’re going to call it 10 wins. I’m not confident enough to recommend the Over 10.5 +245 at DraftKings (again, as of Sunday, Sept. 3), but I’ll be shopping around for Over 9 and Over 9.5 at plus-money.


Tuley’s Takes on NFL division value bets

While my favorite division bet is the Vikings +290 to win the NFC North, I didn’t mention the Bengals +140 to win the AFC North, though I obviously like that as well. Here’s my takes on the other division races:

NFC East: Cowboys (+195)

I did the NFC East previews in the VSiN NFL Betting Guide, and it was clear the division is a two-horse race with the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are the value play at +195 as they should be right there (the head-to-head battles will likely determine the champ), especially with the Eagles having to battle the Super Bowl loser hangover (as well as having a bull’s-eye on their back every week).

NFC South: lean to Falcons (+200)

I don’t feel as strong on the NFC South, which has been one of the most topsy-turvy divisions over the years with a lot of teams going from worst to first and vice versa. The Saints are the chalk at +105, but not sure that’s warranted with Derek Carr taking over at QB. The Falcons look like the play, but I’m also not sold on Desmond Ridder or the Atlanta defense. I’m also not sure we’re getting a fair enough price at +500 to take a shot on rookie QB Bryce Young. I’m probably passing on this one.

NFC West: pass on 49ers (-190)

If I were a chalk bettor (which I’m not), I would be betting San Francisco to win the NFC West at -190 as they look like the most likely division winner with the least number of legitimate threats. Seattle at +230? No thanks. And the Rams and Cardinals have fallen off quickly.

AFC East: Jets (+270)

The Bills have dominated the division in recent years, and they’re the +120 favorite to win it this season, but we see this as perhaps the most wide-open race of all. The Jets (+270) and Dolphins (+270) are both serious threats. However, while the Dolphins’ offense can score with anyone, any Miami futures are risky with QB Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion history even if the defense improves.

As we’ve seen, once a player has concussions, it makes it easier to have more, and we have very little confidence in him playing the whole season or being around come playoff time to risk any future wagers on Miami. I’m also a little skeptical of Aaron Rodgers, but there’s still more upside with the weapons they’re putting around him along with a defense that allowed just 18.6 points per game (ranked No. 2 in the league) and only 311.1 yards (No. 4) last season. A lot of the hype went to rookie CB Sauce Gardner as he won Defensive Rookie of the Year, but it was truly a group effort.

AFC South: Titans (+350)

This is similar to the NFC North where longtime doormat Detroit is the favorite, but we see Minnesota as the value play. In the AFC South, Jacksonville is the chalk at -155, but we’re not sure the Jaguars are going to be able to hold off the Titans again. Tennessee isn’t likely to return to 2021 when it went 12-5 as the AFC’s No. 1 seed, but the Titans still have QB Ryan Tannehill and RB Derrick Henry and are still closer to that than to being an also-ran, so +350 is fair value.

AFC West: pass on Chiefs (-165)

If I were to take a shot on anyone in the AFC West, it would be the Chargers at +290, but I just don’t feel that’s a fair enough price to knock off the defending champion Chiefs.

We’ll be back later in the week with our “takes” on the full 16-game Week 1 schedule. We can’t wait!

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