Tuley's Takes: NFL Week 16

December 22, 2021 07:31 AM
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NFL Week 15 was another roller-coaster ride in the “Tuley’s Takes” home office as favorites and underdogs were 7-7 ATS entering Tuesday’s bonus doubleheader, caused by COVID-19.

On one hand, we had a disappointing weekend as we went 2-3 ATS on our best bets in Point Spread Weekly and in Circa Sports Million and the Westgate SuperContest. Every week my top two best bets are published on Fridays in the New York Post, and I went 2-0 ATS with the Lions + 13 vs. the Cardinals and the Saints + 11 at the Buccaneers — both outright upsets — to improve to 18-12 ATS (60 percent) on the season. But I lost my other three best bets and I’m below .500 on the season with Picks 3 through 5.

If you’ve been following our columns every week, you can probably guess what’s coming next: Our two-team, 6-point teasers again bailed us out and gave us a winning weekend.

After losing with the Patriots + 8.5 on Saturday night (I originally tied them with the Bengals as my top teaser play of the week), we reposted the Bengals + 9 with the Titans + 7.5 as our top teaser (the latter was first posted using the Steelers + 7.5 before there was a change of favorite, though both sides ended up cashing in the Steelers’ 16-13 victory). In addition, we added a Raiders + 9/Vikings -0.5 teaser on Monday morning in “Tuley’s Takes Today” (later amended to Browns + 8.5/Vikings -0.5 when that game also had a change of favorite, though both sides hit in the Raiders’ 16-14 win).

Now let’s look ahead to the holiday weekend’s 16-game card. Per usual, even if I don’t have a strong opinion on a game, I’ll give my pool-play strategy for those in contests where you have to pick every game.

San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) at Tennessee Titans

The 49ers have won two straight and five of six, but I believe the oddsmakers and bettors are overrating them, especially against the Titans. Is everyone forgetting that the Titans, despite losing Derrick Henry and others, are still 9-5 and leading the AFC South? Granted, they’ve lost three of their last four (and the loss to the Texans was especially embarrassing), but I still have them as a short favorite here even without giving anything for home-field advantage. I’ll gladly take the hook here, though shop around as + 4 was available at Circa Sports as of Tuesday morning.

Best Bet: Titans + 3.5 (pool play: Titans in all contests that include Thursday games).

Cleveland Browns at Green Bay Packers (-7.5)

The Browns came up short in a loss to the Raiders on “Monday Afternoon Football,” but Nick Mullens played well and I expect the same after a quick turnaround for this Saturday afternoon game, whether it’s Mullens or Baker Mayfield or Case Keenum. The key is the Browns’ defense, which is ranked fifth (321.7 yards allowed per game). They should be able to contain Aaron Rodgers and Co. enough to stay within a field goal. I’m hoping the Browns pound the Packers’ defense with Nick Chubb to keep the ball away from Rodgers and shorten the game — which would make those 7.5 points even more valuable.

Best Bet: Browns + 7.5 (pool play: Browns 75/25 in ATS contests, though Packers still 70/30 in SU pools).

Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals (-1.5)

This is an intriguing game with two teams going in opposite directions. I have mixed feelings as these were my AFC and NFC value bets to win the Super Bowl way back in February. The Colts have rallied from a slow start, while the Cardinals have gone from the NFC’s No. 1 seed to No. 4. I was going to start my teaser portfolio with the Colts teased from + 1 to + 7, but as I’m writing this Tuesday morning, the line is trending toward pick-’em and looks like it might flip to the Colts. I believe the Colts are the right side, but I’m going to pass for now. Check “Tuley’s Takes Today” later in the week to see if I add a bet for this game.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Colts 55/45 in all my SU and ATS contests).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-11) at Carolina Panthers

The Panthers let us down again in a 31-14 loss at the Bills. Cam Newton seems to have that one moment each game when he looks like Superman, but the overall consistency isn’t there. However, this line is still too high for me to pass up. While Carolina’s defense certainly hasn’t figured out Tom Brady as well as New Orleans’ has, the Panthers have enough familiarity with Brady to keep it close. Brady is losing weapons left and right with Chris Godwin out and Leonard Fournette and Mike Evans on the injured list, so the Bucs will be looking for any kind of win and an injury-free game.

Best Bet: Panthers + 11 (pool play: Panthers 67/33 in ATS contests, but Buccaneers at least 90/10 in SU pools).

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-10)

The Eagles were set to play on Tuesday night, so we could see this line change. I’ll pass on the Giants for now, as I need to decide if I’m going to keep backing them. They’ve lost three straight since beating the Eagles 13-7 in Week 12, and the offense has been disappointing with Mike Glennon. Still, I love betting teams that are getting points after winning the previous meeting, so check “Tuley’s Takes Today” for updates.

Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Giants 60/40 in ATS contests but Eagles still around 75/25 in SU pools).

Los Angeles Chargers (-9) at Houston Texans

No, I’m not interested in the Texans as home dogs. Yes, they beat the Titans, but their only other wins are against the Jaguars, and they’re more likely to get blown out than keep this close. Early Tuesday, I saw some books with Chargers -8.5 and was loving that as a teaser play, but those have since disappeared and I wouldn’t recommend a teaser at -9.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Chargers 55/45 in ATS contests and more than 90/10 in SU pools).

Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons (-5.5)

The Lions came through for us again, this time in shocking fashion as they dominated the Cardinals 30-12. They’re 9-5 ATS despite a 2-11-1 SU record, as oddsmakers and bettors continue to underestimate how competitive they are. The Falcons are still in the NFC wild-card hunt, but they’re not as good as their 6-8 record. Lions QB Jared Goff was added to the reserve/COVID list on Monday, so we’ll see if he’s able to produce a negative test and play. I like this play less with Tim Boyle but still plan to pull the trigger against an overvalued Falcons team.

Best Bet: Lions + 5.5 (pool play: Lions 60/40 in ATS contests — higher if offered + 6 — and Falcons just 60/40 in SU pools, so taking Lions to pull the upset in nearly half of my pools).

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5)

Both teams are 8-6, so this is for the AFC North lead. Both have looked at times like Super Bowl contenders, but they’ve also thrown in some clunkers. One of those clunkers was the Ravens losing 41-17 to the Bengals in Week 7 when everything went wrong. However, I expect this to be a much closer game with the division lead on the line. I would prefer to be getting + 3 to make this a best bet, though I still might bet the Ravens at + 2.5. Regardless, this is a good time to bring up my teaser portfolio for the week. The one I love the most right now is Ravens + 8.5, coupled with the Bills + 8.5 at the Patriots, as we have two live underdogs getting more than a touchdown.

Best Bet: Ravens in two-team, 6-point teasers, led by Ravens + 8.5 with Bills + 8.5 (pool play: Ravens 60/40 in ATS contest, though Bengals 60/40 in SU pools).

Los Angeles Rams (-3) at Minnesota Vikings

Unless something major happened in the Rams’ game Tuesday night, I’m looking to back the Vikings as home underdogs. With Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson, they have the offensive weapons to keep up with the Rams. Personally, I hope everyone jumps on the L.A. bandwagon and bets this line up to 3.5 or higher.

Best Bet: Vikings + 3 or higher (pool play: Vikings 60/40 in ATS contests, though Rams still around 67/33 in SU pools).

Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets (-2.5)

Jaguars owner Shad Khan fired Urban Meyer and still couldn’t get a motivated effort from his players, who lost to the Texans for the second straight time this season. That keeps me from trusting them against a Jets team that nearly knocked off the Dolphins as 10-point dogs last week. The Jaguars are so lost that they might get the No. 1 pick again, and I can’t even consider using them in a 6-point teaser.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Jets 67/33 in ATS contests and at least 80/20 in SU pools).

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-2.5)

It looked like the Patriots were going to run away with the AFC East, but a loss to the Colts on Saturday night gives the Bills a chance to take control of the division with a win. Even though it’s New England in December, we should see better weather than the teams had in Buffalo when the Patriots grinded out a 14-10 victory. The Bills offense should have more success this time and at least keep this close. I might still take the Bills plus the points (I doubt we see + 3), but it’s always tough to fade Bill Belichick, so my preferred approach is to use the Bills in teasers.

Best Bet: Pass, except for Bills in teasers, led by Ravens + 8.5/Bills + 8.5 (pool play: Bills 55/45 in ATS contests, but Patriots 55/45 in SU pools).

Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks (-7)

The Seahawks played Tuesday night, so this line could change. The Bears have talent on both sides of the ball, especially on defense, and I’m tempted to take the Bears plus the points. Justin Fields and the offense need some consistency, but they could be helped by the Seahawks’ 32nd-ranked defense (394.9 yards allowed per game). As always, shop around for the best number, but here’s hoping the oddsmakers keep this line around 7.

Best Bet: Bears + 7 (pool play: Bears 65/35 in ATS contests — higher at + 7.5, lower at + 6.5 — while Seahawks just 60/40 in SU pools).

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5)

I can’t give Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger enough credit. Every time we want to write off the Steelers, they step up to get a big win and remain in the playoff hunt. While the Chiefs are playing better during a seven-game winning streak, they still tend to let teams stick around, and I can’t see them blowing out the Steelers, especially with Tuesday's news that Tyreek Hill has joined Travis Kelce and others on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Best Bet: Steelers + 8.5 (pool play: Steelers 67/33 in ATS contests, though Chiefs still 70/30 in SU pools).

Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders (-1)

These AFC West rivals are both 7-7 and trying to stay in the AFC wild-card race, so this is a pretty important game. The Raiders won the earlier meeting 34-24, so that lessens my enthusiasm for the Broncos, especially with Teddy Bridgewater unlikely to clear concussion protocol by Sunday. However, even with Drew Lock, I’m considering adding the Broncos to my teaser portfolio, especially if the line drifts up to + 1.5 or higher.

Best Bet: Pass, except for Broncos possibly in teasers (pool play: Raiders 55/45 in all SU and ATS contests).

Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys (-10.5)

Washington played Tuesday night at the Eagles, and the result will go a long way toward determining whether the Football Team is still in the wild-card chase. I’ll wait until the new line settles before making a final decision, so check “Tuley’s Takes Today” later in the week.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Washington 55/45 in ATS pools — subject to change — but Cowboys around 80/20 in SU pools).

Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints (-3)

The Dolphins have won six straight to get back to 7-7 and into the AFC wild-card chase, and the Saints shut out the Buccaneers to also get to 7-7 and into the NFC hunt. The Dolphins are a tempting road underdog, but the line is a little short. We’re considering using them in teasers, so check back later in the week.

Best Bet: Pass for now, possibly Dolphins in teasers (pool play: Dolphins 55/45 in ATS contests, though Saints 60/40 in SU pools).

Happy holidays and happy handicapping to all.

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