NFL Week 1 is in the books (literally and fguratively) and we’re breathing a sigh of relief in the Tuley’s Takes home offce. The opening NFL week can be tricky and, while we’ve had some awesome Week 1s in recent years, there’s also been some disasters and we’re content to avoid one of those.
Our best bets in last week’s Point Spread Weekly went 3-2 on the NFL Consensus Page and 4-3 ATS here in my own column. I mostly went 3-2 or 2-3 with my multiple entries in the big Vegas handicapping contests, though I do have one 4-1 SuperContest entry with a partner.
On the downside, my personal Circa Sports Million entry went 1-3-1 as the Colts were only 6 in that contest. Somehow I managed a 5-2 record to start the Ultimate Football Challenge at the Golden Nugget as that includes NCAA sides and I won with two of my plays here, Colorado and BYU, as I liked those the most of my best bets that went 2-2 ATS. But we’ll talk about college football at the end of this column. So, let’s get right to this week’s NFL card. For the uninitiated newbies, I give my “take” on each game. But as you can tell from the above paragraph, I’m a huge proponent of contests as they 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 strategy 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 (expect where noted, especially for line-shopping purposes).
Buccaneers (O/U 49.5) at Panthers (-6.5)
Tuley’s Take: The Bruce Arians/Jameis Winston experiment didn’t get off to the best start in the Bucs’ 31-17 loss to the 49ers and the Panthers showed promise despite a 30-27 loss to the Rams, but I don’t’ believe that even the combination of those performance should have moved the line this much from the Panthers -4.5 advance line at the Westgate SuperBook last week. So, while I’m not willing to take the Bucs 6.5 as a best bet at press time, I’ll bite at 7 if it continues to steam that way as expected. Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: Buccaneers in majority of my rare ATS contests that include TNF, especially at 7 or higher, but Panthers 67/33 in SU contests).
Colts (O/U 44) at Titans (-3)
Tuley’s Take: Both teams came through for me last week, but while the Titans’ 43-13 upset of the overhyped Browns looks better on paper, I was actually more impressed with the Colts’ 30-24 overtime loss at the Chargers without Andrew Luck. The Colts are still the better overall team and I’m glad to be getting points here. It opened Titans -3 but as of deadline most Vegas sportsbooks are at -3 -120, so we’re hoping to get 3.5 by the weekend. Best Bet: Colts 3 or better (contest strategy: Colts in nearly all ATS contests and at least 75/25 in SU pools).
Chargers (-2.5) at Lions (O/U 48)
Tuley’s Take: Most people (especially those who lost with Detroit -2.5 last week) are looking to throw the Lions in with the dregs of the league, but they’re not that bad and were actually dominating the Cardinals before letting them rally for the eventual 27-27 tie. As happened again last week, the Chargers, for all their talent, can’t be trusted to cover spreads even after going 7-1 on the road last year. Having said all that, I still don’t feel I’m getting enough points here with the Lions to make them a best bet. However, they’re a prime candidate for a 6-point teaser as it takes us through the key numbers of 3 and 7 to 8.5. As I’ll point out in later games, there’s a lot of underdog teaser candidates this week (as well as the Texans in the other direction down to -2.5). Best Bet: Pass, though Lions in teasers (contest strategy: Lions more than 50/50 in ATS contests, though I’d love if some of my contests posted a 3.5, though still Chargers around 60/40 in SU pools).
Bills (-2) at Giants (O/U 47.5)
Tuley’s Take: The Bills rallied late to come through for us last week while the Giants weren’t even close against the Cowboys, but I’m more tempted to take the home underdog here. However, just like the Lions game, this line is a little too low for my liking and I’m more likely to use the Giants in teasers, too. The better bet might actually be on the Under, especially as it seems the total has been set at least a few points too high. Of the four offensive and defensive units, the Giants’ D performed the worst last week, but it’s not like we can expect Buffalo QB Josh Allen & Co. to take full advantage. Meanwhile, the Bills’ defense again looks stout and should contain the New York offense.
Cardinals (O/U 46.5) at Ravens (-13.5)
Tuley’s Take: The Ravens ran over the Dolphins 59-10 as one of the most popular bets in Week 1 (including the most-selected team in both the Westgate SuperContest and Circa Sports Million), so I’m not surprised they’ll be a popular choice this week over the Cardinals with rookie QB Kyler Murray, who somehow rallied to tie the Lions. But even with the extreme in their performances, I don’t think this line should have been infated from the Ravens -9.5 in last week’s advance line at the Westgate to -13.5. And it’s probably going higher as it was -14 at Caesars on Tuesday afternoon, so I defnitely see value on the underdog Cards. Best Bet: Cardinals 13.5 of higher (contest strategy: Cardinals in nearly all ATS contests with Ravens still around 80/20 in SU pools, though will step up with Cards in biggest contests where a major upset would separate me from the crowd).
Patriots (-19) at Dolphins (O/U 48)
Tuley’s Take: I was going to say in the Cards-Ravens writeup that there shouldn’t be a two-touchdown difference between two NFL teams and now we have a spread approaching three TDs. This is insane, especially as it was just Patriots -11 last week at the Westgate. Yes, I know the Dolphins were blown out 59-10 by the Ravens and the Patriots routed the Steelers 33-3, but an 8-point adjustment with no major injuries? Double-digit home underdogs are gold, plus we’re looking at a divisional rivalry in which the Dolphins usually play the Patriots tough at home, winning two of the last three meetings in Miami, plus a 33-20 upset in the 2014 opener in the heat and high humidity. Best Bet: Dolphins 19 or better (contest strategy: Dolphins in all ATS contests and more SU contests than you would believe).
Cowboys (-4.5) at Redskins (O/U 46)
Tuley’s Take: The Redskins almost shocked the Eagles in Week 1 and still came away with the cover. I was considering them as live home underdogs when this line came out Cowboys -7, but I missed that number and it is now down to 4.5. With the way that the Cowboys dominated the Giants on both sides of the ball, I don’t think we’re getting enough points now. Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: slight lean to Redskins in ATS contests and Cowboys around 75/25 in SU pools).
Jaguars (O/U 43.5) at Texans (-8.5)
Tuley’s Take: This line was Texans -3 at the Westgate last week when it was assumed Nick Foles would still be playing for the Jaguars, so I’m tempted to take them with the added points as Gardner Minshew showed me a lot. However, the Texans are my Super Bowl dark horse and I saw more good than bad in their heart-breaking 30-28 loss at the Saints on Monday night. Instead, I believe the better play is the Texans teased down to -2.5 as we again pass through the key numbers of 3 and 7. There’s plenty of teams to pick and choose from for teaser players this week. I also love the Over as it’s set kinda low due to these teams both having playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, but I still expect both Minshew and Watson to light up the scoreboard. Best: Over 43.5, plus Texans in teasers (contest strategy: Jaguars in slightly more ATS contests, but Texans around 90/10 in SU pools).
Seahawks (O/U 46.5) at Steelers (-3.5)
Tuley’s Take: The Steelers were embarrassed 33-3 by the Patriots, but I expect them to rebound this week at home against the Seahawks, who barely beat the Bengals 21-20 as 9.5-point favorites. The Steelers are still the better team, though I’m not willing to lay more than a feld goal. I’m sure some regular readers are surprised I’m not taking the Seahawks with the hook, but I feel the line is too short. Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: Steelers around 55/45 in ATS contests and 70/30 in SU pools).
49ers (O/U 45) at Bengals (-1)
Tuley’s Take: The Westgate’s advance line was 49ers -2.5 last week and I mistakenly thought that I’d be getting the Bengals as 3-point home dogs after they were blown out by the Seahawks. Well, that number never happened as the Bengals are now 1-point home faves after nearly beating the Seahawks. However, I don’t see the value fipping to the 49ers side as this is really a coin-fip. Best Bet: Pass (contest play: 50/50 in all SU & ATS contests with slight lean to Bengals).
Vikings (O/U 44.5) at Packers (-3)
Tuley’s Take: I grabbed the opening line of Vikings 3 on Sunday night because I was sure it would get bet down, and it did. But now at deadline on Tuesday, it’s back up to 3 at the South Point and 3 -120 at a lot of other books and looks like it be bouncing around 2.5/3 all week (note: in future columns, I’ll likely be posting lines like that when they’re split in the market; it usually comes with the assumption that the books are adding -120 juice to the side that most people are looking to bet, such as Packers -2.5 -120 in this case or Vikings 3 -120). I still have the Vikings as the right side and they did nothing in their 28-12 win over the Falcons to discourage that. Best Bet: Vikings 3 (contest strategy: Vikings around 80/20 in ATS contests and probably around 75/25 in SU pools as well).
Chiefs (-8) at Raiders (O/U 52.5)
Tuley’s Take: As I’ve written before, I’m a huge Patrick Mahomes fan (and have him for $1 in a fantasy auction keeper league), but I’m willing to fade the high-powered Chiefs when the price is right. Most people are expecting the Raiders to come back to Earth after being extra-motivated to win their opener over the Broncos without Antonio Brown, but I think they can carry that momentum into this week. A lot of so-called experts were saying the Chiefs’ defense would be improved this year, but I didn’t see it as Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew were leading the Jaguars up and down the feld on it. Give me the home dog of more than a touchdown, though I wouldn’t talk anyone out of teasing Chiefs down to -2. Best Bet: Raiders 8 (contest strategy: Raiders in nearly all ATS contests and 50/50 in SU pools).
Saints (O/U 53) at Rams (-2.5)
Tuley’s Take: This game is similar to the VikingsPackers as it’s wavering between 2.5/3 and I grabbed the 3 on the road underdog. The Saints struggled with the Texans, but did show their class in pulling out the 30-28 victory. The same could be said of the Rams, who outlasted the Panthers 30-27. This is obviously a rematch of the NFC Championship Game that the Rams won, thanks in part to the most famous no-call (defensive pass interference) in NFL history. This should be a backand-forth game and I wouldn’t talk anyone out of the Over, but I like the Saints to get their revenge and they’re even a stronger teaser play at 8.5 (if the Saints are losing, I would feel pretty good about Drew Brees getting me the back-door cover). Best Bet: Pass on 2.5, though as Best Bet at 3 as I took on NFL Consensus Page (contest strategy: Saints in slightly more SU pools or ATS ones at 2.5, but Saints 67/33 if getting 3 and especially 3.5).
Bears (-2.5) at Broncos (O/U 40.5)
Tuley’s Take: Both teams lost as divisional favorites in Week 1. This line opened Broncos -1 at the Westgate on Sunday and has fipped to the Bears being favored. I said on VSiN’s “Betting Across America” on Tuesday that I would take the Broncos if it gets to 3, but I also like the Broncos teased up to 8.5. Unless the Bears’ offense plays much better than we saw in the opener against the Packers, the Broncos’ defense should keep them in the game. This will be a popular Under play, but oddsmakers obviously know that and have shaded it low (lowest of Week 2 by a full feld goal). Best Bet: Pass at 2.5, though Broncos in teasers (contest play: 50/50 in SU & ATS contests but Raiders if getting 3 or 3.5).
Eagles (-1) at Falcons (O/U 51)
Tuley’s Take: Believe it or not, I bet a favorite! Well, I got the Eagles at pick ‘em because I really think they should be favored by at least a feld goal. Maybe I’m biased because the Falcons let me down in their 28-12 loss at the Vikings, but the Eagles showed me a lot more in their 32-27 comeback win over the Redskins even though they ended up not covering. Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: Eagles at least 67/33 in all SU & ATS contests).
Browns (-2.5) at Jets (O/U 46)
Tuley’s Take: My two best bets last week were fading these two teams with the Titans and Bills, so I feel I have a good handle on both these teams. I expect the Browns to bounce back from their embarrassing loss, so I’m not willing to take this MNF home dog as I think the 2.5-point line is too short, though I still won’t be tempted if it gets to 3. Instead, I love the Under as the Jets’ defense played great despite letting the Bills rally and should contain the supposedly potent Cleveland offense. Meanwhile, while the Browns’ defense also didn’t live up to expectations against the Titans, I don’t expect the Jets to take advantage. Best Bet: Under 46 (contest strategy: Browns around 60/40 in ATS contests and 80/20 in SU pools). Takes on College Football As mentioned in the intro, I was able to go 5-2 in the Golden Nugget contest as I was 2-1 with my NCAA plays on Colorado and BYU (lost with West Virginia; passed on my other PSW best bet of Ohio as the contest line was 5.5). My opinions on other lesser games also let me down as I went 4-6 in the VSiN NCAA Consensus Page (dipping to 13-9 ATS overall, 59.1 percent), but as I wrote before, those games aren’t always ones I would normally play and go with my stronger opinions here. That’s worked out mostly as planned as I’m 5-3 ATS (62.5 percent) with the best bets here. In this week’s consensus box, most of the games were ones I feel the favorites are priced too short for me to take the dogs. The only one I really like is Arizona State, so I’ll make that a best bet here along with three other games.
Arizona State ( 14) at Michigan State
Both teams are 2-0, though ASU is 0-2 ATS as the Sun Devils failed to cover against lowly Kent State and FCS Sacramento State, Michigan State also failed to cover in its opener over Tulsa, though the Spartans did cover against Western Michigan. Still, I think two touchdowns is too much for Sparty to be favored here, especially as MSU is 6-12 ATS (33 percent) in its last 18 games as double-digit chalk. I expect the Spartans will dominate on the ground and probably lead the whole game, but ASU QB Jayden Daniels (62.7 percent, 3 TDs, zero INTs) should keep the Sun Devils in the game and within the number. Eastern Michigan ( 8) at Illinois Illinois is 2-0, but failed to cover in struggling to beat UConn last week. Eastern Michigan is another step up in class for the Illini as the Eagles are 1-1, but QB Mike Glass threw for 337 yards in a 38-17 loss to the SEC’s Kentucky last week. This is step down in class for EMU and I even hinted at a straightup upset in VSiN’s College Betting Guide back in July. Getting more than a touchdown is an added bargain.
Ohio ( 5.5) at Marshall
Ohio, which is expected to battle for the MAC title, let me down last week, but I’m back on the Bobcats as I expect QB Nathan Rourke and the offense to bounce back this week against Marshall. Granted, the Thundering Herd stood up to Boise State last week in a 14-7 loss, but it’s also likely the Herd’s focus was on that game and they’ll have a hard time bouncing back from that loss and overlook Ohio.
Georgia State ( 9.5) at Western Michigan
As alluded to above, I did the MAC write-ups in the VSiN College Betting Guide, but before anyone thinks my two previous picks expose a MAC bias on my part, I’m fading the MAC here. Georgia State upset Tennessee 38-30 in the season opener as 24.5-point underdogs and 1325 on the money line. Some people are probably calling that a fuke as GSU only beat FCS Furman 48-42 as a 6-point favorite last week, but a lot of FBS teams would have trouble beating Furman and those two wins should have then prepped for a Western Michigan team that is coming off a 51-17 loss to Michigan State (though you can tell from my early pick fading Sparty that I didn’t upgrade them as much for that win as I downgraded WMU).