We’re feeling much better this week in the Tuley’s Takes home office.
Last week, we were whining (yes, we admit that’s true) that underdogs were off to a great start in the NFL yet we weren’t reaping the rewards as we were around .500 here in Point Spread Weekly and in our various Vegas football handicapping contests. Well, dogs went 9-7 ATS again in Week
0 (and 27-20-1 ATS on the young season for 57.4 percent) but this time we went 4-2 ATS with our best bets in this column (11-9 ATS on the season,
1024 percent), plus 4-1 ATS on the VSiN NFL Best Bet Page elsewhere in PSW and 9-1 on the VSiN NFL
Consensus Page. That’s more like it!
We’ve had continued success weeding out our NCAA best bets as we went 2 -0-1 ATS last week with California and Wyoming winning and Georgia State 3 pushing in its 3-point 3OT loss to Texas State to improve to 10-4-1 ATS (71.4 percent) compared to 6-4 ATS last week and 22-20 ATS overall on the VSiN CFB Consensus Page. That’s helped us to a 14 -6-1 (70 percent) record in the Ultimate Football Challenge at the Golden Nugget, so at least we’re in the mix there.
We hope that going through the full NFL card has helped you in your own handicapping so far (and if it’s been putting you on more underdogs so far this season, we’re pretty sure it’s helped).
So, let’s get to this week’s exercise. For the uninitiated newbies, I give my “take” on each game. But as you can tell from the above paragraphs, I’m a huge proponent of contests as they can maximize your great days/weeks/ seasons while also sometimes bailing 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 my 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 as of Tuesday afternoon (expect where noted, especially for line-shopping purposes).
Eagles (O/U 45) at Packers (-4.5) Tuley’s Take: The Thursday nighter is the best matchup we’ve had since the opener, though it’s lost some luster with the injury-plagued Eagles’ slow start (1-2 SU, 0-3 ATS). The Packers are off to a great start (3-0 SU & ATS), but I’m ready to
fade them as they’re not as good as their record and benefitted from catching the Bears before their offense got in sync and they probably should have lost to the Vikings. The Eagles’ losses to the Falcons and Lions could have been wins (though admittedly they were lucky to rally to win their opener over the Redskins), and I expect them to be right in this game as well despite the short week. Packer backers have pushed this line to -5 at several books and even -5.5 at Caesars and Boyd Gaming (which is what I took on the NFL Best Bet Page), but for these purposes I’ll go with the current South Point line at deadline but definitely waiting and shopping around. Also, I know the Under is 8 - 2 in NFL primetime games so far this season, but I lean to the Over with these two offenses. Best Bet: Eagles 4.5 or better (contest strategy: Eagles in all of my rare SU & ATS contests that include TNF).
Panthers (O/U 46) at Texans (-4.5) Tuley’s Take: Kyle Allen looked more than serviceable in Carolina’s 38 -20 win at Arizona last Sunday, but the Texans’ defense will be a much tougher test and I expect this to be a much lower- scoring game. The Texans, my Super Bowl value bet during the offseason (and I still like their chances while everyone is focusing on the Patriots and Chiefs) is back on track with two straight wins. Despite the Week 1 shootout in New Orleans, the Texans look more content to grind out wins, so I really like the Under here as I expect both defenses to step up in this game. Best Bet: Under 46 (contest strategy: Texans around 67/33 in ATS contests and in nearly all SU pools).
Browns (O/U 47) at Ravens (-7)
Tuley’s Take: The Browns were the most -hyped team this offseason (and going back to the end of last season) and I was thrilled to fade them in the opener vs. the Titans and resisted using them as home underdogs Sunday night against the Rams. A lot of people are jumping off the bandwagon, but I actually think this might be the time to “buy low” on Cleveland as they’re not as bad as everyone is saying. Granted, the play- calling was atrocious down the stretch against the Rams, but I actually upgraded them for staying with one of the league’s elite teams. They get another test this Sunday and I feel we’re getting a bargain. The new-look Ravens have impressed so far, but there’s no way this line should be a full TD (opened Ravens - 5.5 at Westgate last Sunday and I thought that was even too high). Best Bet: Browns 7 (contest strategy: Browns 75/25 in ATS contests – all of them at 7.5 – though around 50/50 in SU contest pools).
Redskins (O/U 49) at Giants (-3)
Tuley’s Take: The Daniel Jones era is under way with more hype than seems warranted (considering the Giants should have lost to the Buccaneers – and it was only the Bucs that they beat anyway) . This line is up from the Westgate’s advance line of Giants -2 from last week, so we haven’t been too much of an overreaction in the betting markets at least. And that adjustment isn’t enough to get me to take the Redskins. Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: Giants around 60/40 in ATS contests – though flip to Redskins at 3.5 – and around 80/20 in SU pools).
Chargers (- 16.5) at Dolphins (O/U 44.5) Tuley’s Take: Part of my overall success last week centered around my decision to take the Jets plus the huge spread vs. the Patriots and passing on the lowly Dolphins vs. the Cowboys. However, I’m not able to resist taking the Dolphins here. Josh Rosen actually played decent in spots (and had a TD pass dropped) and the Dolphins only trailed 10-6 at halftime and could have led if not for a missed FG by Jason Sanders and a fumble inside the 10-yard line by Kenyan Drake. Besides, the Chargers (1-2 SU, 0-2-1 ATS) haven’t been living up to high expectations for this season and should be content with around a 10-point win. Best Bet: Dolphins 16.5 (contest strategy: Dolphins in all ATS contests, though Chargers around 90/10 in SU pools).
Raiders (O/U 45) at Colts (-6.5) Tuley’s Take: After the Raiders weren’t embarrassed in their 28-10 loss vs the Chiefs in Week 2, I was hoping they would bounce back last week at the Vikings; however, they were dominated even more as the Vikings rolled 37-14. I think this line is set a little too high on the Colts, but I’m not willing to jump on the Raiders again until I see more of the effort we saw in the Week 1 upset
of the Broncos and for most of the game against the Chiefs. Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: Colts around 70/30 in ATS contests and close to all SU pools).
Chiefs (-6) at Lions (O/U 54)
Tuley’s Take: The Lions have been one of the pleasant surprises so far at 2-0-1 SU & 2 -1 ATS, and when this line opened Chiefs -6.5 at the Westgate on Sunday afternoon and was bet to -6.5 (-120), I went on “The Opening Lines” show and agreed with VSiN colleague Matt Youmans that we were waiting to take the Lions 7. Well, apparently some sharp bettors like the Lions, too, and the line reversed and dropped to -6 (I sometimes think the sharps aren’t so sharp when they don’t let the public bet up a line like this before jumping in, but that’s a discussion for another day) . Anyway, the line is starting to creep back higher as of deadline but I’m passing for our purposes here but rest assured that I’ll be waiting to back the Lions over the weekend if the public jumps all over the high-powered Chiefs as expected. Best Bet: Pass at
6 and 6.5 but a best bet at Lions 7 or higher (contest strategy: Lions in slightly more ATS contests
– but all if offered 7.5 – though Chiefs still around
67/33 in SU pools).
Patriots (-7) at Bills (O/U 42)
Tuley’s Take: This is a battle of 3-0 teams (though both failed to cover in last week’s wins), but obviously oddmakers see the Patriots as still vastly superior being favored by a TD on the road. However, the Bills’ defense (ranked No. 5 behind the No. 1 Patriots) gives them a chance to stay in this game while QB Josh Allen’s mobility should help against that top -rated defense. I wouldn’t mind if the public also bet this higher, but I still like the Bills enough to take just the touchdown. Best Bet: Bills 7 (contest strategy: Bills around 70/30 in ATS pools – but all at 7.5 – and also 50/50 in SU pools).
Titans (O/U 45) at Falcons (-4)
Tuley’s Take: The Titans failed to build off their Week 1 upset of the Browns as they lost to the Colts and Jaguars. The Falcons have also lost to the Colts and are also 1-2, but the one win was at home in Week 2 against the Eagles. The fact they’re back home for this game is enough of a reason for me to pass on the Titans. However, we cashed with our best bet on the Over in last week’s Atlanta game and this total looks low as well as I expect the Falcons’ offense to wake up at home again while the defense (allowing 25 points a game despite misleadingly high No. 7 ranking in yards allowed) won’t offer much resistance to the Titans. Best Bet: Over 45 (contest strategy: Falcons around 60/40 in ATS contests and around 90/10 in SU pools).
Buccaneers (O/U 50) at Rams (-10) Tuley’s Take: With the Rams covering as very popular favorites over the Browns on Sunday night, it’s not surprising that this line is getting pushed
to double digits against the lowly Buccaneers, but while the Rams are clearly among the top teams in the league, I’m not ready to throw the Bucs into the dumpster like a lot of people. Yes, they lost as home faves to the 49ers and Giants, but they upset the Panthers on the road and I expect them to step up while it wouldn’t be a surprise (at least to yours truly) if the Rams played down to the level of competition after being sky-high for their high-profile matchups with the Panthers in the opener, the Saints in their big NFC Championship rematch and the Browns on Sunday Night Football. Best Bet: Buccaneers 10 (contest play: Bucs in nearly all ATS contests – only flipping to Rams if only offered 9.5 – and even around 25 percent of SU pools, so I do think the money line of 375 or higher is worth a flier).
Seahawks (-5) at Cardinals (O/U 47.5) Tuley’s Take: This Seahawks team is not what we’re used to as they struggled to beat the Bengals at home and then lost to the Saints at home and in between pulled off a road upset in Pittsburgh. I expect Russell Wilson & Co. to bounce back on the road in Glendale, Ariz., so I’m not willing to take the Cardinals as home underdogs. Best Bet: Pass
(contest strategy: Seahawks around 60/40 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Vikings (O/U 38) at Bears (-2.5)
Tuley’s Take: Before the season, I thought all the home teams in the Bears/Packers/Vikings round-robin would be favored by a field goal. This line dipped to Bears -2.5 with their slow start but now we’re seeing it bounce between -2.5 and -3 after their win over the Redskins on Monday Night Football. I lean to the Vikings as I still feel they’re the better overall team (and had their chance against the Packers to be 3-0), but even the 3 isn’t enough to make it a best bet. I was going to consider the Under but oddsmakers saw that coming as it’s the lowest of the week at 38 points. Best Bet: Pass, though using Vikings 8.5 in teasers (contest strategy: Vikings in slightly more ATS contests – though using Bears more at -2.5 – and also in SU pools).
Jaguars (O/U 38.5) at Broncos (-3)
Tuley’s Take: The Broncos are averaging just 15.3 points a game so far in losses to the Raiders, Bears and Packers, and it doesn’t get any easier against Sacksonville, even if Jalen Ramsey calls in sick. Meanwhile, the Broncos’ defensive reputation (and that of new coach Vic Fangio, formerly DC of the Bears) has taken a hit as the first team to not record a sack or turnover in its first three games since the NFL started keeping track of those stats in 1982. Not that gunslinger Gardner Minshew was going to be intimidated anyway as I expect him to outshoot Joe Flacco. Best Bet: Jaguars 3, though personally waiting for 3.5 (contest strategy: Jaguars in all SU & ATS pools).
Cowboys (-2.5) at Saints (O/U 47)
Tuley’s Take: Teddy Bridgewater led the Saints to an impressive 33-27 upset in Seattle last Sunday, but I was still hoping this line would get driven higher by the Cowboys covering as 22.5-point favorites over the Dolphins. I’d much rather get the full FG on the Sunday Night home dog. We still might get it with a lot of people calling Dallas the best team in the NFC. Best Bet: Pass at 2.5, but probably betting it at Saints 3; would also use Saints in teaser w/ Vikings (contest play: Saints in slightly more ATS contests – much more if offered at 3.5 – and 50/50 in SU pools).
Bengals (O/U 43.5) at Steelers (-4) Tuley’s Take: This wasn’t one of the marquee Monday Night Football matchups even before Ben Roethlisberger was injured, but it’s sure to be heavily bet anyway just because of the primetime timeslot. While Mason Rudolph is gaining supporters for his play in place of Big Ben, I side with the Bengals as live underdogs. Despite the blowout loss to the 49ers in Week 2, they’ve been more competitive than expected in their losses at Seattle and at Buffalo. I expect them to go into Pittsburgh with the same effort and beat a down Steelers team (or at least cover in a loss by a field goal) Best Bet: Bengals 4 (contest strategy: Bengals in nearly all ATS contests while also around 60/40 in SU pools).
Takes on College Football
As mentioned in the intro, I went 2-0-1 ATS with last week’s best bets to improve to 10-4 - 1 ATS (71.4 percent) overall in college football. As I pointed out last week, I didn’t use any of the six underdogs I picked on the VSiN CFB Consensus Page (though I did go 6-4 ATS to improve to 22- 20 ATS overall in those picks), but this week I only liked four dogs on the lists and I am using Washington State as one of my best bets. Again, hopefully my selectivity keeps paying off in the colleges.
North Carolina State ( 6) at Florida State It must be the brand name of FSU that this line is so high because I’m not so sure that the Seminoles should be favored in this matchup, but I’ll gladly take the points. And I feel that way whether it’s James Blackman (downgraded to doubtful on Tuesday) or Alex Hornibrook at QB for Florida State. The Seminoles lost to Boise State (no shame in that) and Virginia, but also weren’t
too impressive in wins over Louisiana-Monroe (overtime!) and Louisville. NC State (which won the last meeting 47-28 last November) should have every chance at the upset.
Washington State ( 6.5) at Utah Washington State blew a 32-point lead to lose
67-63 to UCLA late Saturday night. There’s several things you could read into that (the players will be devastated to have their dreams of an undefeated season end that way, for one) or, as I prefer, that they can score on anyone and can still win the Pac-12. Utah is coming off a loss at USC to a third-string quarterback, so I would question why anyone would be looking to lay these points with the Utes against Mike Leach’s newest protégé, Anthony Gordon. Add in the fact that Utah QB Tyler Huntley and RB Zack Moss are both listed as questionable and we really have a live dog with the Cougars.
Kentucky ( 3) at South Carolina
What has South Carolina done to warrant even being favored over Kentucky? Beat Charleston Southern 72-10 for its lone win? Big deal. Covered the spread against Alabama in a 47-23 loss?
I don’t get it. UK also stood up to Florida in a spread-covering 29-21 loss, so I give the Wildcats a big chance to pull the upset.
Houston ( 7) at North Texas
Yes, I know, Houston QB D’Eriq King blew up the Internet on Monday when he declared he was going to red-shirt after his team’s 1-3 start. Houston was between a 2.5- and 3 - point favorite before the news and is now getting a full touchdown? That’s too much of an adjustment no matter how great King is. We see teams plug in new QBs all the time that fare just as well and sophomore Clayton Tune played five games as a freshman last year, including two after King was injured. Tune had eight TD passes and just two INTs, so he certainly has the right to improve on that. Besides, North Texas WF Rico Bussey is also out of the season, so it’s not like the Mean Green is at full-strength either. I’ll take the generous points.