As I wrote in my daily version of this column on VSiN.com, thanks to all my friends and longtime readers who made wellness calls to the Tuley’s Takes home office when favorites went 7-0 SU and ATS in the NFL’s early window Sunday.
Despite that, I was doing just fine, as I had won early with the Jaguars’ upset of the Dolphins in London. We also were cashing in with 6-point teasers carried over from the Buccaneers on Thursday to the Jaguars and Chiefs, and the only setback for our teaser portfolio was the Chargers. Things got even better for us in the afternoon games with the Cardinals and Raiders winning outright. That carried over into the Seahawks in their overtime loss at the Steelers on Sunday night and the Titans upsetting the Bills on Monday night as well as covering + 3.5 in the first half.
When the dust had settled on the weekend and favorites had gone 8-6 ATS, we still ended up 4-4 ATS with our recommended bets while also hitting the majority of our teasers.
So let’s go through the NFL Week 7 card. Per usual, I’ll give my recommendations from my dog-or-pass point of view but will also give my pool-play strategy for those who might be in contests in which they have to pick every game.
And please note that our takes on the MLB playoffs as well as occasional NBA and NHL plays appear in “Tuley’s Takes Today” at vsin.com/news/dave-tuley-columns, so bookmark that and check in every morning.
Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns (-3.5)
This Thursday night matchup looked a lot more appealing a few short weeks ago. Since then, the Broncos’ 3-0 start has been exposed as resulting from a soft early schedule. Meanwhile, the Browns have been decimated with injuries. As of Tuesday, it was looking like Baker Mayfield would play Thursday night, but if you saw him against the Cardinals, he looked like a broken-down QB. Even when healthy, Mayfield usually needs the Browns’ strong running attack to be effective, and that has been a mess with Kareem Hunt out for several weeks and several key injuries along the offensive line. The advance line for this game was Browns -6, and that’s where it reopened Sunday, but it has been coming down with the reports of Cleveland’s walking wounded. So with the Browns fielding a team closer to the ones the Broncos beat to start the season, we like Denver as long as we’re getting 3 points or better. As of Tuesday, the Broncos were still available at + 3.5, but most books were charging added juice of -120, so grab it if still available.
Best Bet: Broncos + 3.5, but no worse than + 3 (pool play: Broncos in my rare contests that include “Thursday Night Football”).
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-6.5)
Who had this Week 7 game circled as a battle for first place in the AFC North? Believe it or not, that’s what we have with the Ravens (5-1) hosting the Bengals (4-2). The advance line was Ravens -6.5 and it has stayed pretty solid, though a few books went to Ravens -7 before getting bet back down. But I think it’s set a little high based on the reputation of these teams and should be closer to a field goal. The Ravens are certainly flashier with Lamar Jackson’s high-flying act, but Joe Burrow is having just as good a season and should be able to spread the ball around to his weapons in RB Joe Mixon and WR Ja’Marr Chase, among others. This might be early to be calling for a new favorite in the AFC North, but I give the Bengals a great chance to pull the outright upset. However, I’ll still gladly take as many points as they’re willing to give us. Wait to see if the chalk-loving public (and those skeptical of the Bengals) bet this back up to 7.
Best Bet: Bengals + 6.5 or better (pool play: Bengals 67/33 in ATS contests — even higher if offered + 7.5 — but Ravens still a low 60/40 in SU pools).
Carolina Panthers (-3) at New York Giants
I was among those who jumped on the Giants + 9.5 against the Rams last week even before QB Daniel Jones was cleared from concussion protocol. Did anyone catch the license plate on that Ram truck that ran us over? After closing at L.A. -7.5, the Rams won 38-11 and it didn’t even feel that close as the Rams scored 38 unanswered points after the Giants led 3-0. This game is more competitively priced, but I can’t see taking the Giants again as home dogs after that debacle. I can’t even bring myself to plug my nose and include the Giants in teasers. If anything, this line looks short to me, even with the Panthers still missing Christian McCaffrey.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Panthers 60/40 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Washington Football Team at Green Bay Packers (-9.5)
The advance line was Packers -7.5 and it reopened -10 after the Packers beat the Bears and Washington was routed 31-13 by the Chiefs. If the Football Team’s defense was playing anywhere last year’s level, I would have grabbed the + 10, but it was easy to resist. I fear that if I took the dog here, the best-case scenario would be that it would be a close game but Aaron Rodgers and Co. would gradually pull away like Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs did last week.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Packers 55/45 in ATS contests and all SU pools).
Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5) at Tennessee Titans
When I see the Titans at 4-2 and with a two-game lead in the AFC South, I think back to Week 1. I heard a ton of people — including many so-called experts — grouping the Titans with the Jaguars, Texans and Jets among the dregs of the league after their 38-13 loss to the Cardinals. Even with a suspect defense, it’s hard to be among the worst teams when you have RB Derrick Henry and WR Julio Jones. Anyway, while I was glad to have the Titans against the Bills on Monday night, I don’t feel good about taking them a second week in a row against an elite offense, no matter how inconsistent Mahomes has been this season. This should be a shootout, but in the end I don’t feel I’m getting enough points.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Chiefs 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).
Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) at Miami Dolphins
I wish I had been smart enough to grab the Falcons + 2.5 on the advance line last week. The Falcons are coming off a bye, and I should have seen this change of favoritism coming even before the Dolphins lost 23-20 in London to the Jaguars, who snapped a 20-game losing streak. And now the Dolphins don’t even get a bye after that long trip. Now it has flipped all the way to the Falcons -2.5. I would usually see that as an overreaction, but I believe it’s justified and have no interest in the Dolphins plus the short number. All that being said, I’m not sure the Falcons should be this much of a favorite, so I’m willing to start my teaser portfolio for the week with the Dolphins up to + 8.5. There aren’t as many prime teaser options this week, but I’d include the Dolphins with the Patriots down to -1 against the Jets. The only other real option is teasing the Colts up to + 9.5 at the 49ers on Sunday night.
Best Bet: Dolphins in teasers (pool play: Falcons 67/33 in ATS contests and 75/25 in SU pools).
New York Jets at New England Patriots (-7)
The advance line was Patriots -7 and it reopened -6.5, but that’s a little misleading as the Westgate posted the number at 3:50 p.m. PT Sunday before the Patriots nearly beat the Cowboys before falling 35-29 in OT. I would have made it higher, and we’re seeing all books at Patriots -7 with early indicators that it’s going to get bet through the key number to -7.5. That still won’t be enough to get me to take the Jets. I’ll just stick with trusting the Patriots to win SU and come through in teasers.
Best Bet: Patriots in teasers (pool play: Patriots 55/45 in ATS contests but closer to 90/10 in SU pools).
Detroit Lions at Los Angeles Rams (-15)
You would think I’d learn my lesson after losing so badly with the Giants against the Rams, but the Lions have been good to me this season. They’re 3-3 ATS despite their winless record on the scoreboard, and I was smart enough to pass on them last week against the Bengals. I would pass if this line were closer to 7 or 8 or even 10, but with the Lions getting more than two touchdowns I have to take them, as they should have beaten the Ravens and were competitive against the Packers. The thing that makes this kind of play appealing is that the Rams aren’t motivated to win by more than two touchdowns. They just want to get out with a win and everyone healthy and move on. The back door should be wide open even if the Lions don’t keep it close early.
Best Bet: Lions + 15 (pool play: Lions 75/25 in ATS contests, but Rams still at least 90/10 in SU pools).
Philadelphia Eagles at Las Vegas Raiders (-3)
We were thrilled to see so many people jumping on the narrative last week that the Raiders were a team in disarray due to Jon Gruden’s resignation. The Raiders were one of our strongest plays of the weekend after closing as 5-point underdogs. They’re back in the role of favorites now against an Eagles team that we’re still trying to figure out. Jalen Hurts flashes moments of brilliance, like the rally against the Panthers and giving the Buccaneers a run for their money in covering as 7-point underdogs last week. But they’re still not consistent enough to take with the short number here.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Raiders 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 70/30 in SU pools).
Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-13.5)
Just like the Lions-Rams game, this is a line that’s gotten out of control, thus giving value to dog bettors. The advance line was Buccaneers -10 before they beat the Eagles on Thursday night, though I’d also like to point out they didn’t cover as 7-point home favorites and are only 2-4 ATS on the season as they also failed to cover in wins over the Cowboys and Patriots. The Bears didn’t cover in their 24-14 home loss to the Packers, but they were competitive. Despite all that, this line has risen from 10 to nearly two touchdowns. Justin Fields and the Bears’ offense probably don’t have enough to pull the upset, but they’re certainly good enough to stay within two scores along with a defense that held the Packers to 24 points and is allowing just 20.7 points per game. Personally, I’m waiting to see if the public bets it to 14.
Best Bet: Bears + 13.5 or higher (pool play: Bears 67/33 in ATS contests, but Buccaneers still around 90/10 in SU pools).
Houston Texans at Arizona Cardinals (-17)
This is the biggest spread in Week 7, and I’m sure most readers are assuming I’m taking the Texans, but I have to pass. In recent years, I would have faded the Cardinals with their tendency to play down to the level of their competition. However, the Cardinals are now a team that isn’t taking its foot off the gas, as they’ve run over the Titans, Rams and Browns during their undefeated start. I made the mistake of taking double digits with the Texans against the Colts last week and won’t make that mistake again until they face a more vulnerable favorite.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Cardinals 60/40 in ATS contest and all SU pools).
Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers (-3.5)
The Sunday nighter features teams hoping to climb back into playoff contention. The Colts are 2-4 and trail the Titans by two games, but their schedule makes it possible to get back over .500 soon if they can get past the 49ers. Then they can get revenge on the Titans next week before facing the Jets and Jaguars. San Francisco has fallen 3.5 games behind undefeated Arizona but can still get back into the wild-card hunt with a victory. The 49ers will probably get Jimmy Garoppolo back, but I still give the edge to the Colts as QB Carson Wentz and RB Jonathan Taylor have the offense looking better, especially with the addition of WR T.Y. Hilton.
Best Bet: Colts + 3.5 (pool play: Colts 60/40 in ATS contests, but 49ers around 55/45 in SU pools).
New Orleans Saints (-4.5) at Seattle Seahawks
It was an ugly game, but the Seahawks covered for us Sunday night in their 23-20 overtime loss at Pittsburgh after falling behind 14-0. But while it seemed everyone was calling for a Steelers blowout with Seattle losing Russell Wilson, Geno Smith did enough to rally the Seahawks for the cover, just as he nearly did against the Rams the week before. I understand the Saints being favored Monday night, but I don’t believe it should be by more than a field goal. The Saints are coming off their bye week, but the last time we saw them they were also losing 23-20 to the same Steelers team. How is this line not closer to pick-’em?
Best Bet: Seahawks + 4.5 (pool play: Seahawks 75/25 in ATS contests, but Saints only slightly more than 50/50 in SU pools).