NFL Week 2 was a chalk-fest as favorites went 14-2 SU, but it wasn’t as bad for us here in the Tuley’s Takes home office as you might think.
Underdogs actually went 9-7 ATS, and I salvaged a 2-3 mark in most of my contests. Here in “Point Spread Weekly,” we went 4-5 with our best bets in this column. Our sides were 3-4 ATS (wins on the Bengals, Broncos and Giants and a near-miss on the Panthers vs. the Buccaneers) and 1-1 on totals (loss on Panthers-Bucs Over but win on Seahawks-Patriots Over). Unfortunately, I chose the wrong dogs to go a disappointing 1-4 ATS on the VSiN best bets page to fall to 4-6 ATS on the young season and out of the lead.
The news is better on the VSiN CFB best bets page as I went 3-1 ATS to improve to 5-2 ATS (71.4%), though I went 4-5 ATS on the VSiN CFB consensus page to drop to 12-11 ATS. In general, the picks on the consensus pages are not always games on which I have a strong opinion (and if I can’t make a case for the dog, I’ll take the favorite even though I’m not actually betting that pick). The best bets are the ones I’m actually betting, so please keep that in mind.
Just like the last two weeks, we’ll stick with our college football picks on those pages until we find something we really like to highlight here.
Without further ado, let’s tackle this weekend’s NFL slate. As I’ve said before, I won’t have a fave among my best bets, but I’ll make it clear which dogs I don’t have confidence in and which faves I’ll use in many of my pools and contests where I have to pick every game. (Those pool plays fared better than my best bets at 5-4 ATS last week after going 7-2 ATS in Week 1, so maybe I should be betting more of those.) Lines are the consensus numbers around Las Vegas as of Tuesday afternoon.
Tuley’s Takes on NFL Week 3
Dolphins at Jaguars (-3 EVEN)
Fitzpatrick vs. Minshew magic! This adds intrigue to an otherwise mediocre Thursday night matchup. The line was wavering between Jaguars -2.5 and -3, but I’ll take the Dolphins as both these teams have continued to battle hard despite low expectations from the outside. Gardner Minshew led the upset of the Colts in Week 1 and came up just short (but covered) Sunday against the Titans. Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins were unable to duplicate their Week 17 upset of the Patriots, but they battled (and covered) in Sunday’s loss to the Bills. I still have the Dolphins power-rated higher than the Jaguars and will take any points.
Best Bet: Dolphins + 3 (pool play: Dolphins in all of my rare SU and ATS contests that include “TNF”).
Raiders at Patriots (-6)
The Raiders are the 2-0 team after their upset of the Saints on “Monday Night Football” in their first home game in Las Vegas. The Patriots are still the stronger team and rightly favored at home, but the gap has narrowed, and I think this line should be closer to 3.5 or 4. I’m not including it on the VSiN NFL best bets page, but I’m still planning to bet it though waiting to get at least + 6.5.
Best Bet: Raiders + 6 for our purposes here (pool play: Raiders around 67/33 in ATS contests, especially at + 6.5, though Patriots still around 55/45 in SU pools).
Rams at Bills (-2.5)
I bet the Bills -2.5 when the schedules were released, as I correctly predicted the Bills would be 2-0 and was hoping to set up a middle. However, what I didn’t expect was the Rams to be 2-0 against the Cowboys and Eagles, so this line hasn’t moved. As I wrote then, I’ll let my bet on the Bills -2.5 ride, though the best bet now might be to tease the Rams up to + 8.5.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Bills around 60/40 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Texans at Steelers (-4)
The Steelers are 2-0 and the Texans are 0-2, but I have this as a pick-’em matchup as the Steelers beat the Giants and Bengals while the Texans had to face arguably the two best teams in the league in the Chiefs and Ravens. Playing in Pittsburgh against this Steelers’ defense isn’t much easier, but the Texans should at least be able to cover.
Best Bet: Texans + 4 (pool play: Texans around 75/25 in ATS contests — and all of them offering + 4.5 — though Steelers still around 60/40 in SU pools).
49ers (-4.5) at Giants
This wasn’t expected to be a marquee matchup, but with the 49ers putting together a M*A*S*H* unit and Saquon Barkley out for the Giants, it’s even less appealing. This line is too short for me to consider the dogs, even though the Giants did cover in an ugly game against the Bears in Week 2.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: 49ers around 67/33 in ATS contests and 80/20 in SU pools).
Titans (-2.5) at Vikings
I love home underdogs, but I can’t pull the trigger on the Vikings off their blowout losses to the Packers and Colts, even though the Titans have failed to cover in wins vs. the Broncos and Jaguars. I might add the Vikings + 8.5 to my teaser portfolio.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Titans 60/40 in ATS contests and 75/25 in SU pools).
Washington at Browns (-7)
The Browns bounced back from their season-opening loss vs. the Ravens to beat the Bengals on Thursday night, but they did not cover. The fact they let the Bengals stick around gives me hope that Washington can do the same, though it let me down in a similar spot at Arizona as the offense was unable to keep up with the Cardinals and the defense didn’t play as well as it did in the opener vs. Philadelphia. I might just use the Browns in teasers and leave it at that.
Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Washington slightly more in ATS contests — around 55/45 but higher if getting + 7.5 — but Cardinals 80/20 in SU pools).
Bengals at Eagles (-6.5)
The Bengals came through for us Thursday night, and I’m sticking with them against an Eagles team that is also 2-0 and shouldn’t be laying this many points against anyone. Cincy rookie QB Joe Burrow continues to impress and has already succeeded in late-game situations against the Chargers and Browns.
Best Bet: Bengals + 6.5 (pool play: Bengals 70/30 in ATS contests and will also take a shot at around 60/40 in SU pools).
Bears at Falcons (-4)
In the first upset of the week, there are people actually betting the Falcons despite their collapse against the Cowboys as this line has been bet up from -3 to -4 at several books. I’m willing to fade the Falcons with the 2-0 Bears (though 1-1 ATS with a non-cover against the Giants). The Bears’ defense played better in Week 2 and should be able to contain the Falcons’ offense for Mitchell Trubisky to pull out another win.
Best Bet: Bears + 4 (pool play: Bears 80/20 in ATS contests and even 60/40 win in SU pools).
Jets at Colts (-10.5)
The Jets are pretty bad, but that’s why we’re getting double digits and I can’t resist. Besides, even though the Colts did cover as 3.5-point favorites over the Vikings on Sunday, this fits in our basic strategy of fading QB Philip Rivers when he’s in the role of favorite. The Colts should be content to grind out a win and Sam Darnold should be able to do enough to stay within two scores. If the Jets can get to 17 points, they can cover this inflated number.
Best Bet: Jets + 10.5 (pool play: Jets 75/25 in ATS contests though Colts still around 75/25 in SU pools).
Panthers at Chargers (-6.5)
This was a tough call when the Panthers were + 7 earlier Tuesday, as I think the money came in on the right side to drop it to 6.5 everywhere. But I didn’t pull the trigger as the Chargers, despite starting rookie QB Justin Herbert, looked great in nearly upsetting the Chiefs in Week 2. I still think the line is too high, but it’s hard to fire again on the Panthers after they gave up the late covering TD vs. the Buccaneers to turn our winning Sunday into a loser.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Chargers around 55/45 in ATS contests — though would flip to Panthers if offered 7.5 — and 80/20 in SU pools).
Lions at Cardinals (-5.5)
The Lions have started great the last two weeks vs. the Bears and Packers only to get run over. I haven’t seen anything from either team not to expect a similar result. And the Cardinals could jump to an early lead and leave the Lions with no chance to get in the back door.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Cardinals around 80/20 in ATS contests — especially at under -6 — and in all SU pools).
Buccaneers (-6) at Broncos
The Broncos are 0-2 but a more respectable 2-0 ATS. They’ve covered in their losses to the Titans and Steelers with a defense that keeps them in the game and competent if unspectacular QB play from Drew Lock and then Jeff Driskel in relief. The Buccaneers are still overrated in my book and barely covered vs. the Panthers, so give me the points again.
Best Bet: Broncos + 6 (pool play: Broncos 67/33 in ATS contests but Buccaneers around 70/30 in SU pools).
Cowboys at Seahawks (-4.5)
The Cowboys needed a miraculous comeback to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start, but they certainly have the talent to keep up with the Seahawks. However, Russell Wilson has been in MVP form, and it’s hard to fade him now. Instead, I’m looking to the Under. Even though both offenses are capable of lighting up the scoreboard and neither defense has put together a lockdown performance, this total is just too high.
Best Bet: Under 55.5 (pool play: Seahawks 55/45 in ATS contests and in 67/33 in SU pools).
Packers at Saints (-3)
This line opened Saints -3.5 before they lost to the Raiders on “Monday Night Football,” and it dropped to 3 on Tuesday morning. I would lean to passing at that number, but early betting had some books going to -3 and added juice, so hopefully we’ll get the + 3.5 again. The Saints were being called the best team in the NFC and one of the best in the NFL with their win over the Buccaneers in Week 1, but they were exposed vs. the Raiders. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are looking strong right now.
Best Bet: Packers + 3, though hoping for + 3.5 (pool play: Packers 70/30 in ATS contests — and even higher at + 3.5 — and also around 60/40 in SU pools).
Chiefs at Ravens (-3.5)
Here’s an early candidate for Game of the Year with K.C. visiting Baltimore on “Monday Night Football.” The Ravens have been impressive while the Chiefs keep needing to overcome early deficits, but they’re giving us Patrick Mahomes and more than a field goal? Yes, please.
Best Bet: Chiefs + 3.5 (pool play: Chiefs 75/25 in ATS contests and in all SU pools. As I’ve written the last two weeks, I prefer to go all in with the side I like on “MNF” in case I connected the dots on one of my many SU cards).
Tuley’s Takes on NHL/NBA
We’re not forgetting about the NBA and NHL playoffs with both coming down the stretch. The Stars still look like live underdogs in the Stanley Cup Final, as they stole Game 1 on Saturday by outplaying the Lightning 4-1. The Lightning jumped to a 3-0 lead in Monday’s Game 2, but the Stars battled back before losing 3-2 to even the series, so give me the Stars + 140 in Wednesday’s Game 3 and probably any game the rest of the series. In this + 135 to + 140 price range, we just need the Stars to get three wins to break even. And if they win the series, obviously we come out well ahead.
In the NBA, I wrote last week: “I came in thinking this series was a coin flip and will probably pass on most games unless the oddsmakers and public give us a dog of three points or more.” That actually happened, so I won Thursday with the Heat + 3 in Game 2 against the Celtics but lost Saturday at + 3.5 in Game 3. The Heat are still playing at least as well as the Celtics on both ends of the court in this tight series, so I’ll gladly take the Heat + 3 again in Wednesday’s Game 4 and again anytime at + 3 or higher. In the Western Conference, I’m also sticking with the dogs. The Nuggets were blown out by the Lakers in Friday’s Game 1 but covered in Sunday’s Game 2 while nearly tying the series. I expect I’ll still be on the Nuggets at + 6 or better the rest of the series.