Tuley's Takes: NFL Week 3

September 20, 2023 08:45 PM

Week 3 picks from a "dog or pass" point of view"

NFL Week 2 was another winning weekend in the Tuley’s Takes home office, and hopefully for our “dog-or-pass” disciples.

Favorites went 10-6 straight-up in Week 2, but underdogs led 8-5-3 ATS. Those betting stats are against my ViewFromVegas Consensus Closing Lines that I get from the average of the books here in Las Vegas, but you could certainly argue that dogs were actually 10-5-1 ATS as many of us were able to get the Vikings +7 or +6.5 in their 34-28 loss at the Eagles on Thursday night and the Rams +8 or +7.5 in their 30-23 loss vs. the 49ers.

(Note: We know none of our followers are whining about L.A. coach Sean McVay sending out the field goal unit for the “meaningless” FG to cover the spread at the end of the game, but it’s just another example of why we’re “dog-or-pass” bettors. The 49ers didn’t care about letting the Rams in the backdoor as their goal is to win. Besides, anyone laying 7.5 points when they could have shopped around -7 to insure against a push kinda got what they deserved, if you ask me.)

Anyway, we went 3-2 ATS with our Best Bets here in these weekly columns (6-4 ATS on the young season) to be right at the 60% goal we all aspire to. We actually went 6-2 with our posted Best Bets as we also won our lone Over/Under play of the week with the Saints-Panthers Under 40 in the Saints’ 20-17 victory and also swept our two posted 2-team, 6-point teasers with the Falcons +1.5/Jaguars +8.5 in the early Sunday games and the Steelers +8.5/Over 33 in the Monday night finale.

It was a winning weekend but probably should have been better as I also went out of my way in last week’s intro to write, “Several Over/Unders have been lowered by multiple points this weekend from where they were on the advance lines just a week ago. That’s to be expected as Unders went 12-4 (75%) in Week 1 as oddsmakers make adjustments and bettors jump on the Under bandwagon. From our point of view, we would expect the trend to reverse, so there should be some value in going Over some of these deflated totals.”

Overs went 13-3, but we only teased the Browns-Steelers total. Whoops! Seems like a bunch of missed opportunities. But longtime readers of mine know that I generally stick to full-game ATS bets in the NFL with my dogs unless I’m struggling, then I look more to other markets like first-half bets, totals, etc.

So, without further ado, let’s get to the NFL Week 3 card. For those new to this column, I’m a “dog-or-pass bettor,” and my breakdown of each game will usually be from that point of view as we try to determine if the dog is getting enough points to make them a play – or if I recommend passing on the game, which is a very valid and valuable betting decision when trying to come out ahead against the books! Even if I don’t have an official Best Bet, I’ll still at least give my recommended “pool play strategy” for those who are in contests where you have to pick every game.

New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers (-10)

I’m sure my regular readers are assuming I’m taking the Giants here as double-digit underdogs in prime-time, but my initial thought is to invoke the “pass” part of “dog-or-pass.” While I generally try to ignore conventional wisdom with so many people saying the 49ers are probably the best all-around team in the NFL, my hesitation is more from the fact I haven’t seen enough from the Giants to think they can keep up (and that’s even if Saquon Barkley is able to play).

The Giants were dominated 40-0 by the Cowboys (another candidate for the best all-around team) in the opener and trailed 20-0 to the lowly Cardinals before somehow rallying to win 31-28. Maybe that should give hope that Daniel Jones could rally the Giants to a backdoor cover, but I’m not buying it. 

Best Bet: Pass (Giants 55/45 in my very rare ATS contests that use Thursday night games, but 49ers in all SU pools).

Los Angeles Chargers at Minnesota Vikings (pick ’em)

Both teams are off to disappointing 0-2 starts, so this is a huge game for both. The advance line for this was Chargers -1.5 but was down to pick ’em at most books nationwide as of this writing on Wednesday morning. This could be a sign that the public is no longer in love with the Chargers, who they always see as having so much potential, but the team always seems to underachieve for whatever reason.

This looks like a coin-flip game that the spread suggests. I wish bettors would bet one of these teams to -1.5 and into the “teaser zone” so I could tease the dog up over a touchdown, but I’m not confident of that happening.

Best Bet: Pass (Vikings a very lukewarm 55/45 in SU and ATS contests).

Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns (-3)

The Browns lost to the Steelers on Monday night and also lost star RB Nick Chubb with his gruesome knee injury. Those events have also led this line to go from Browns -4.5 down to -3. In addition, the Titans upset the Chargers and have been exceeding expectations as they’re 2-0 ATS after covering in their Week 1 loss at the Saints.

Cleveland RB Jerome Ford is the flavor-of-the-week fantasy waiver-wire pickup. (They also brought back Kareem Hunt.) But those who picked him up might be disappointed as he has to face Tennessee’s tough run defense. I still think this line is too short to take the Titans +3, but I love them in a teaser so we’ll use them at +9 with the Jets +8.5 (or +9) for our early-slate play. Other potential teaser options with the Titans would be Saints +8, Steelers +8.5 and Rams +8.5 (or also Bills -0.5 and Ravens -1.5 for the chalk-loving crowd). 

Best Bet: Pass (Titans 55/45 in ATS contests but flip to Browns 55/45 in SU pools).

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-9.5)

I wrote in Week 1 that I would probably be on the Texans a lot this season. (Note: They failed to cover +10 in their 25-10 loss to the Ravens, though they only trailed 7-6 at halftime.) I’m proud of the fact we passed on them in Week 2 as they lost 31-10 vs. the Colts (we actually used the Colts +1 in Circa Sports Million as we couldn’t believe the Texans were actually favored), but this looks like a great spot to jump back on them, especially as the Jaguars are in the dreaded “perennial-underdog-losing-when-thrust-in-the-role-of-favorite” scenario.

Most people are expecting the Jaguars to bounce back from the loss to the Chiefs, but I wouldn’t trust them to win by double digits here as the Texans have enough weapons to keep this close as we also expect to see CJ Stroud continue to improve.

Best Bet: Texans +9.5 (Texans 67/33 in ATS contests – even higher at +10 or +10.5 – but Jaguars around 75/25 in SU pools).

New England Patriots (-2.5) at New York Jets

The Jets +9.5 let us down in their 30-10 loss at the Cowboys as Zach Wilson didn’t show the improvement we were expecting from Aaron Rodgers’ tutelage. The advanced line on this game was Jets -3.5 during the off-season with Rodgers but flipped to Patriots -2 after his season-ending injury.

I’m still not sure the 0-2 Patriots should be favored, but the line is still too short for me to take Wilson and the Jets under a field goal, though we’ll gladly tease them up over a touchdown. As we mentioned above, we’re pairing it with Titans +9 in Sunday’s early games as well as other later games.

Best Bet: 2-team, 6-point teaser on Jets +8.5/Titans +9 (Jets 55/45 in ATS contests, but Patriots 55/45 in SU pools).

New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers (-2)

Here we have another short spread, but we’re willing to take the Saints, who are off to a 2-0 start though they’re 0-1-1 ATS with a non-covering 16-15 win vs. the Titans and a push in a 20-17 win at the Panthers. Derek Carr isn’t reminding anyone in New Orleans of Drew Brees, but he’s doing enough to get the job done and I’ll still take him vs. Jordan Love. Besides, I expect the Saints to continue with the ground game (Tony Jones in for injured Jamaal Williams) and probably an increased role for Taysom Hill. I’m calling for the outright upset here, but will also use the Saints in teasers just in case.

Best Bet: Saints +2, plus Saints +8 in teasers (Saints 67/33 in all SU and ATS contests).

Denver Broncos at Miami Dolphins (-6.5)

Tua Tagovailoa is now the favorite to win MVP, though we’re not willing to bet it because he’s a concussion away from being put on the shelf. But as long as he’s healthy, the Dolphins’ offense is very potent. (We’ll see if they can keep it going if Mike White has to take over.) 

Anyway, that’s why we’re not willing to take the points here with the Broncos, though they are tempting with that defense and the fact I trust coach Sean Payton to keep them in most games. I’m thinking the oddsmakers are thinking the same thing and that’s why we’re not getting the +7.5 we would love to have!

Best Bet: Pass (Dolphins 55/45 in ATS contests and upwards of 80/20 in SU pools).

Buffalo Bills (-6.5) at Washington Commanders

Here’s another game where I was hoping to be getting at least +7, but I’ll still take the +6.5 with the Commanders. I’m well aware that Washington could very well be 0-2 as they had to rally to beat the Cardinals and Broncos (not exactly a murderers’ row), but the fact is they’ve shown they can get games close and even pull out one-score games.

We don’t even need them to win as they just need to stay within one score to score. The Bills, despite pulling away to rout the Raiders 38-10, still have a tendency to let teams stick around and I haven’t been too impressed with the Buffalo defense so far.

Best Bet: Commanders +6.5 (Commanders 60/40 in ATS contests – higher at +7 or +7.5 if a contest offers it – but Bills at least 70/30 in SU pools).

Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions (-3.5)

The Falcons are tempting here. They’re 2-0 SU and ATS, but let’s not get too carried away as they beat the Panthers and Packers. The Lions followed up their upset of the Chiefs in the season-opener with a 37-31 OT home loss to the Seahawks as they succumbed to the “perennial-underdog-now favored” trap.

This line has dropped from -5 to -3.5, so we’re not quite getting the value we were hoping for. Let’s go back to the deflated totals and go Over 46 points. Even though the Lions-Chiefs game went Under, I see this matchup to be more like Seahawks-Lions and a shootout.

Best Bet: Over 46 (Falcons 55/45 on principle in ATS contests, though Lions still 60/40 in SU pools)

Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (-7.5)

The advanced line was Ravens -8.5 last week and has come down a little bit despite their 27-24 win at the Bengals as the Colts rolled to a 31-10 rout of the Texans. Anthony Richardson has looked impressive – best of the rookie QBs – but was still in concussion protocol as of Wednesday’s deadline.

Regardless, I’m comfortable even if the Colts need to turn to Gardner Minshew as the starter against a Baltimore team that also tends to let lesser teams stick around. Maybe it’s Richardson’s uncertain status that has this line still over a TD, but we’ll take it.

Best Bet: Colts +7.5 (Colts 67/33 in ATS contests, though Ravens still 67/33 in SU pools).

Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks (-6)

This line has been climbing as the Seahawks opened -4 back when the schedule was released on May 11 and it was still only -4.5 last week before the Seahawks upset the Lions 37-31 in OT and the Panthers lost (but pushed) in 20-17 loss vs. the Saints on Monday night.

The line is now up to 6, and that looks right as I’m not ready to trust the Panthers again with rookie Bryce Young going through his growing pains. I’m sure I’ll find spots to take them later in the season (especially as home dogs), but not in Seattle.

Best Bet: Pass (Seahawks 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).

Dallas Cowboys (-12.5) at Arizona Cardinals

We already passed on the Giants as double-digit underdogs this week (and I know I’m going to surprise some readers by not taking the Bears in the next game), but I’m all over the Cardinals here as double-digit home dogs, a historically profitable position and the first one this season. Yes, the Cowboys are among the best teams in the league, and the Cardinals might be the worst. However, that’s why the line is so inflated.

While the Cardinals are 0-2, they’re 2-0 ATS as they covered +7 in their 20-16 loss at the Commanders in Week 1 and then held on to cover +5 in their 31-28 loss vs. the Giants. They should be 2-0, and we’ve loved their effort as they know everyone is assuming they’re the worst team in the league.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they actually lead this game at some point as well, though I’m not confident enough to bet the full-game moneyline at the deflated price of just +550. Still, ya gotta take the double digits with the home dog, right?

Best Bet: Cardinals +12.5 (Cardinals 75/25 in ATS contests, but Cowboys still 90/10 in SU pools)

Chicago Bears at Kansas City Chiefs (-12.5)

As alluded to above, I’m passing on the Bears here. I’m usually willing to fade the Chiefs (we were happy to cash our teasers with Jaguars +8.5 in the Chiefs’ 17-9 win in Week 2 after cashing with Lions +7 in the opener) as their lines are always inflated, and they also always seem to let teams stick around.

Still, the Bears’ defense hasn’t shown me enough to think they can hold down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense like the Lions and Jaguars have been able to do so far. Plus, the Bears’ offense isn’t consistent enough (unless Justin Fields is running for his life) to keep up with the Chiefs in this one. 

Best Bet: Pass (Bears 55/45 on principle in ATS contests with Chiefs at least 90/10 and maybe 100% in SU pools).

Pittsburgh Steelers at Las Vegas Raiders (-2.5)

I believe I follow everything that goes on in the NFL and the betting markets pretty closely, but I feel like I must have missed something. The Steelers were -1.5 way back when the lines opened in May and were still -1.5 on the advanced line last week. The Raiders were blown out 38-10 by the Bills and the Steelers upset the Browns 26-22, and yet the line has gone to Raiders -2.5?

I guess I shouldn’t look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth and just take the points, but I do hesitate with the Steelers coming off a hard-fought home win over a divisional rival on Monday night and now having to travel to Vegas with the Raiders playing their home opener in prime time. However, I can’t pass up teasing the Steelers up over a TD.

I’ll hopefully have some live teasers heading into Sunday night, but for our purposes here I’ll pair them with the Rams on Monday Night Football for a Sunday/Monday prime-time teaser.

Best Bet: 2-team, 6-point teaser with Steelers +8.5/Rams +8.5 (Steelers 55/45 in ATS contests, but Raiders still 55/45 in SU pools).

Philadelphia Eagles (-5.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The first Monday Night Football game this week features a pair of 2-0 teams. The Eagles are 0-1-1 ATS but could very easily be 0-2 ATS as they barely held on to cover in their 25-20 win after closing as 3.5-point road faves at the Patriots in Week 1 and then pushed on closing line of -6 in 34-28 win vs. the Vikings in the Week 2 Thursday nighter.

The Bucs are 2-0 ATS with wins over the Vikings and Bears. Since they beat the Vikings, who pushed a similar line vs. the Eagles, you would think I’d love Tampa as home dogs here, but the line is again too short for me to pull the trigger.

Best Bet: Pass (Eagles 55/45 in ATS contests and 75/25 in SU pools)

Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5)

The Bengals are off to another disappointing 0-2 start and, coupled with the Rams’ surprising 1-1 start (and 2-0 ATS or 1-0-1 ATS depending on the line you got in their 30-23 loss vs. the 49ers on Sunday), this line has plummeted from Bengals -7 back in May and still -7.5 just a week ago to under a field goal.

However, we’ll gladly tease the Rams back up over a TD as Matthew Stafford and his young receivers are off to a great start and should be able to keep this close. Besides, the Bengals’ offense has yet to get back on track, and we don’t expect them to be able to flip the switch in the desperate 0-2 hold and win by more than a TD.

Best Bet: Steelers +8.5/Rams +8.5, plus other teasers (Rams 55/45 in ATS contests, but Bengals 60/40 in SU pools)

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