The long wait is over. The dog days of summer are coming to a close (thank God for air conditioning here in the Tuley’s Takes home office) and the NFL regular season is here!

We’ve been happy to bide our time with college football the last two weeks, but now we get to have wall-to-wall football all weekend long with the colleges and the pros.

Our best bets went 2-1 ATS last weekend with Utah State 3.5 at Wake Forest and Boise State 5 at Florida State (closed an even more generous 6.5 with the move to Tallahassee due to Hurricane Dorian, which we were ahead of the news in last week’s Point Spread Weekly, so hopefully everyone made sure they had action with the change of venue) with the loss on East Carolina 17 at North Carolina State. Still, we’ll take it as NCAA best bets are 3-1 ATS (75 percent) overall. I’m also 9-3 ATS (75 percent) on the VSiN Consensus page (Page 35 in this issue).

We’ll get to this week’s NCAA picks at the end of this week’s column, but I know everyone’s ready to dive into the NFL. This week’s “takes” will read a little different as these Week 1 lines have been up for more than four months. Regular PSW readers might recall (and hopefully bet) on my initial Week 1 plays back in April on the Falcons 4.5 at the Vikings (mostly down to 4 with some 3.5s out there in the betting markets), Bills 3.5 at the Jets (pretty solid 3 now) and Giants 7.5 at Cowboys (down to a touchdown at all books with some charging -120 to get the 7). To show I don’t always make the right call in getting ahead of the market, my other bet back in April was the Colts 3.5 at the Chargers. That was bet down to 3 as I expected and I felt pretty good about it – but then Andrew Luck retired and the line is up to 6.5 and even 7 now, so I’m holding a ticket with a bad number. It happens.

I’m going to approach this week’s NFL card like any other week and give my “takes” on the current lines for those of us looking to bet this week or play in contests. As I’ve written hundreds of times, I’m a huge proponent of contest play as it can maximize your great days/weeks/ seasons while also sometimes bail you out from an otherwise bad season with just one lucky weekly score! So, even if I’m passing on a game, I’ll still at least give a lean or contest plays for those looking for input for contests where they have to play the whole card. Lines will be from VSiN’s host hotel at the South Point as of Tuesday afternoon (expect where noted, especially for line-shopping purposes).

Packers (O/U 46) at Bears (-3)

Tuley’s Take: I passed on the Thursday night NFL opener back in April because I fgured the line would be right around 3 or 4 by this week. The Bears, Packers and Vikings are in a three-way battle for NFC North supremacy this season and I expect the home team to be favored right around a feld goal each time. While tempting to take Aaron Rodgers plus the points, the line is too short for me to take the Packers as the Bears have the stronger team overall in my opinion with more upside depending on the continued development of Mitchell Trubisky. Best Bet: Pass (contest play: Bears in majority of my rare ATS contests that include TNF & 75/25 in SU contests).

Falcons (O/U 47.5) at Vikings (-4)

Tuley’s Take: I loved the 4.5 opening line back in April as I have these teams rated pretty evenly and felt Minnesota was getting too much credit for home-field advantage. The Vikings have the edge on defense, but if the combo of Matt Ryanto-Julio Jones is clicking, no defense can contain them. And the Falcons should feel at home on the new artificial turf at U.S. Bank Stadium (which has an outdoor field with its translucent roof but is technically a dome. Best Bet: Falcons 4 (contest play: Falcons in nearly all ATS contests, I’ll go about Falcons 60/40 in SU pools).

Redskins (O/U 45.5) at Eagles (-9.5)

Tuley’s Take: It’s tempting to take the underdog with such a huge spread, but it’s going to be hard for the Redskins to keep up. I’m high on the Eagles’ offense this season with (a hopefully healthy) Carson Wentz having a ton of weapons at his disposal while the Philly D should also be dominant. Best Bet: Pass (contest play: Eagles in all SU contests and probably still in majority of ATS pools; I’d also consider the Eagles as the best Survivor play of Week 1 as opposed to other popular plays of the Ravens or Seahawks).

Bills (O/U 41) at Jets (-3)

Tuley’s Take: I’m thrilled to be holding 3.5 on this game, but I believe it’s still a best bet at 3, a line that says these teams would be pretty equal on a neutral field, but I give a decided edge to the Bills. I’m higher on QB Josh Allen than a lot of people, plus the Bills were confident enough with RBs Devin Singletary and Frank Gore that they cut LeSean McCoy. The Bills also have the better defense. Best Bet: Bills 3 (contest play: Bills in nearly all ATS contests – especially if getting 3.5 – and about 75/25 in SU pools).

Ravens (-7) at Dolphins (O/U 38)

Tuley’s Take: I didn’t bet the Dolphins 3.5 or 4 back in the spring as I knew this line would rise and now it’s up to a full touchdown. I’m willing to fade the move as the Ravens – while certainly better than the Dolphins – aren’t better by a full touchdown, especially on the road (and in what could be stifling heat of around 90 degrees and high humidity). Some pretty mediocre Miami teams are 6-2 SU in September home games over the past seven years, including upsetting the Patriots in the 2014 opener. And while Ryan Fitzpatrick might not be the long-term answer in Miami, he’s certainly capable of pulling an upset like he did last season in leading the Buccaneers to a 48-40 victory in New Orleans, or at least keeping the Dolphins inside the number. Best Bet: Dolphins 7 (contest play: Dolphins in all my ATS contests and around 50/50 in SU pools).

49ers (O/U 50) at Buccaneers (-1)

Tuley’s Take: This game is pick ‘em at a lot of sportsbooks, and I view it as a virtual coin-flip. Both teams have upside with Tampa coach Bruce Arians opening up the offense for Jameis Winston while San Fran has Jimmy Garoppolo back for another try. I just can’t figure out which team is more likely to open the season with a winning performance. Best Bet: Pass (contest play: close to 50/50 in all SU & ATS contests with a slight lean to the 49ers).

Chiefs (-4) at Jaguars (O/U 52)

Tuley’s Take: I’m sure some regular readers will be surprised that I’m not on this home underdog. However, while I do think the Jaguars will be improved with Nick Foles taking over for the Blake Bortles Experiment and Jacksonville’s defense will end up near the top of the league, I still don’t think this is enough points to fade the Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes & Co. I’m sure there will be times when I will go against the high-powered Chiefs, but I don’t think this is a good spot in Week 1, especially as KC coach Andy Reid is historically great with extra time to prepare for an opponent. Best Bet: Pass (contest play: Chiefs in all SU contests and around 67/33 in ATS pools).

Titans (O/U 45.5) at Browns (-5.5)

Tuley’s Take: It seems like the whole world in on the Browns bandwagon this season, but I think it’s telling that this line hasn’t steamed closer to a touchdown. That’s because this is shaping up as a Pros vs. Joes game with the public all over favored Cleveland and the sharps on the underdog Titans. Granted, this current Tennessee teams isn’t among the league’s elite, but it’s not a bottom-feeder and we often see longtime losing teams have trouble when thrust into the role of favorite. Best Bet: Titans 5.5, though wait to see if it gets bet higher (contest play: Titans around 80/20 in ATS contests and around 50/50 in SU pools).

Rams (-3) at Panthers (O/U 50)

Tuley’s Take: The Rams are in the unenviable role of Super Bowl loser. It’s tempting to fade them to start the season, but the line is too short for me to jump on the Panthers. I mean, the Rams might have the proverbial hangover from their Super Bowl, but they’re still too talented for me to take such few points with a middle-of-the-road Carolina team. Best Bet: Pass (contest play: 50/50 split in ATS contests – though would side with Rams -2.5 or Panthers 3.5; Rams around 70/30 in SU pools).

Lions (-2.5) at Cardinals (O/U 47)

Tuley’s Take: I was hoping there would be more support for the Cardinals and rookie QB Kyler Murray so I could get the Lions as road underdogs here, but it looks like both the professional and recreational bettors had the same idea and have bet the Lions to favoritism. Best Bet: Pass (contest play: Lions 80/20 in SU contests and still around 60/40 in ATS pools).

Bengals (O/U 44) at Seahawks (-9.5)

Tuley’s Take: This was another underdog that I passed on in April as I knew we’d get a better line this week. Obviously, the Seahawks should be a favorite of at least a touchdown against the Bengals and I can’t make the Bengals a best bet at the current number, but I won’t be able to resist if it gets to double digits. Best Bet: Pass (contest play: Seahawks in nearly all SU contests, though again I’m leery enough to warn against Survivor pools; 50/50 in ATS contests at 9.5 but siding with Bengals at 10 or higher).

Colts (O/U 44.5) at Chargers (-6.5)

Tuley’s Take: This line obviously changes with Luck’s retirement, but I’m not so sure there will be too much of a dropoff with Jacoby Brissett, especially in the short term with the rallying of the troops after their fallen leader. The Chargers have better overall talent, but not much after you get past the QB position. A lot of the books that were at 7 have dropped back to 6.5, but while I’ll bet it at that number, let’s see if the public bets this back to a touchdown by the weekend (it’ll also happen if RB Melvin Gordon ends his holdout for L.A.). Best Bet: Colts 6.5 or better (contest play: Colts around 70/30 in ATS contests and close to 50/50 in SU pools).

Giants (O/U 45.5) at Cowboys (-7)

Tuley’s Take: I’m certainly glad to have the 7.5 in my pocket, but the Giants are still live underdogs at 7 as I believe Eli Manning has one last run in him (and being pushed by rookie Daniel Jones is added incentive) while the Cowboys have been more dysfunctional than ever and are primed to get upset in the opener either with or without RB Ezekiel Elliott. Still, I would wait to bet the Giants in case this line climbs back to 7.5 (or perhaps higher if Elliott ends his holdout). Best Bet: Giants 7 or better (contest play: Giants 67/33 in ATS contests at 7 and even more at higher spreads; Giants around 55/45 in SU contests).

Steelers (O/U 51) at Patriots (-5.5)

Tuley’s Take: I’m sure many will be disappointed that I don’t have a recommended bet in the Sunday Night Football game, but I truly believe you need to handicap all games without giving preference to prime-time or TV games. A play should be a play regardless of timeslot, and the same with a pass. The Patriots have certainly had some slow starts and it’s tempting to fade them with a quality team like the Steelers (even without Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown), but this number is still too short for me. Best Bet: Pass (contest play: close to 50/50 ATS with slight lean to the Patriots; also Patriots 80/20 in SU pools).

Texans (O/U 53) at Saints (-7)

Tuley’s Take: Granted, I’m biased as the Texans are again my darkhorse Super Bowl pick, but the defense should still be solid even without Tyrann Mathieu and Jadaveon Clowney and the offensive just got some upgrades for QB Deshaun Watson. I know the Saints are supposedly on a mission after being one controversial non-call away from going to the Super Bowl, but if the Buccaneers could go into New Orleans and pull off a Week 1 upset last year, the Texans can do the same. Best Bet: Texans 7 (contest play: Texans 80/20 in ATS contests and even more if we get 7.5; closer to 50/50 in SU pools).

Broncos (O/U 43) at Raiders (PK)

Tuley’s Take: After the Raiders were favored this spring and summer, the line moved to pick ‘em at some books on Tuesday. It’s pretty much a toss-up as I lean to the Broncos with the better defense, however, I could also see Antonio Brown having a big day and leading the Raiders to victory in their last home game in Oakland. Best Bet: Pass (contest play: Broncos in slightly more SU & ATS pools).

Takes on College Football

As mentioned above, it’s been a great start to the NCAA season as we’re 3-1 ATS with best bets here in PSW and 9-3 ATS in the consensus box (as I mentioned last week, those are usually marquee games and sometimes I might not have a really strong opinion, but we’ll try to sift through it for the best bets each week). Last week, I “picked” four favorites in the consensus box and didn’t bet them, but they went 3-1 ATS. Of the four underdogs I picked but didn’t feel I was getting enough points, those went 2-2 ATS (which is to be expected as I saw them as coinflip games). I was thrilled to go 2-0 ATS with the best bets we pulled from the box. In this week’s consensus box, I sided with five favorites (that means I couldn’t make a case for the underdog) but won’t be betting Boise State -12 vs. Marshall, Iowa -20.5 vs. Rutgers, Syracuse -2.5 at Maryland, Miami-Fla. -6 at North Carolina or Minnesota -3 at Fresno State. Of the five underdogs I picked, I’m also not planning to bet San Diego State 6.5 at UCLA, Texas 4.5 vs. LSU, Arkansas 7 at Mississippi or Oregon State 4.5 at Hawaii as I’m not getting enough points to have an edge. That leaves me with Colorado 4 vs. Nebraska as a best bet, plus three more live underdogs I’ve come up with on my own.

Ohio ( 6) at Pittsburgh

Let the bettor beware that this is the earliest Saturday kickoff at 11 a.m. EDT. Pitt is coming off a 30-14 loss against Virginia in which the Panthers were outplayed in three of the four quarters, scoring both their TDs in the second quarter. Ohio had a 41-20 tune-up victory over Rhode Island. It wasn’t anything to write home about, but I did the Mid-American Conference preview in VSiN’s College Football Betting Guide and had Ohio as the class of the MAC East and has a chance to pull the upset here behind dualthreat QB Nathan Rourke.

West Virginia ( 14) at Missouri

West Virginia is expected to be down from recent years, but the Mountaineers beat FCS power James Madison 20-13 last Saturday and shouldn’t be two-touchdown underdogs to Missouri, which was upset at Wyoming last week as a 16.5-point road favorite in Kelly Bryant’s debut. I don’t always say this when I’m betting a double-digit underdog, but this is also worth a shot on the money line around 450.

Colorado ( 4) vs. Nebraska

A lot of people have Nebraska contending for the Big Ten title this year, but I wasn’t too impressed with the Cornhuskers’ non-covering 35-21 win over South Alabama as 36-point home favorites despite forcing five turnovers. Now, they go on the road and have to take on a dangerous Colorado team that beat Colorado State 52-31 behind senior QB Steven Montez, who I’ll take in a shootout (Over 65?) vs. Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez.

BYU ( 3.5) at Tennessee

The Volunteers lost their opener 38-30 to Georgia State last Saturday as 25-point home favorites (and had to pay a $950,000 guarantee for the honor) in the biggest outright upset of the weekend (Georgia State closed at 1325 on the money line). And now comes BYU for a visit. The Cougars lost 30-12 to Utah, but there’s no shame in that as the Utes entered that game as the No. 14 team in the country. This is a step down in class for BYU while Tennessee is facing a better team than they just lost to and I’m not so sure the right team is favored here.

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