It was another great week in the Tuley’s Takes home office as underdogs continued to bark (and bite!) in the NFL.
The weekend didn’t start that way in college football as my best bets in Point Spread Weekly went 0-3 ATS to slip to 13-11-1 ATS on the season. But at least that was offset by my MLB picks in my “Tuley’s Takes Extra!” column on the VSiN.com website (I trust all-access subscribers got that) with the Nationals winning Game 1 of the NLCS on Friday night and hitting the Yankees-Astros Under 9 in Game 1 on Saturday.
But the main focus of this weekly column (and of most bettors) is the NFL and underdogs went 10-4 ATS in Week 6 — and that includes favorites covering the first two games with the Patriots on Thursday night and the Panthers in the early Sunday game in London. Fortunately, we passed on the dogs in those matchups and hopefully most readers/followers have had a lot of success also with our “dog-or-pass” philosophy as dogs have improved to 54-35-2 ATS (60.7 percent) on the season against our ViewFromVegas Consensus Closing Lines using the 12 Vegas-based sportsbooks on the Don Best screen. Our best bets here went 4-1 ATS in Week 6 and stand at 25-16 ATS (61 percent) on the season, so we’re happy to be outperforming (albeit by percentage points) the market performance of underdogs. I was also 1-0 with my best bet on Over/Unders with the Titans-Broncos Under 39.5 (never in doubt in Denver’s 16-0 win) and went 4 -0-1 with totals on the VSiN NFL Consensus page elsewhere in PSW.
Back to the underdogs. When they’re doing well, it’s usually the home dogs leading the way. This year, road dogs, at 41-20- 1 ATS (67.2 percent), are having the most value. Home-field advantage seems to mean less than ever while home dogs are under .500 at 12-14-1 ATS. (Neutral-site dogs are 1-1 ATS with the Raiders winning in London two weeks ago, but the Buccaneers failing this past Sunday).
Let’s get to the NFL Week 7 card, then I’ll update my “takes” on the MLB playoffs and try to get back on the winning track in college football. For the uninitiated newbies, I give my “take” on each NFL game and — since I’m a huge proponent of contest play — I’ll at least give my contest strategy for those looking for input for contests where
they have to play the whole card. Lines are from VSiN’s host hotel at the South Point as of Tuesday afternoon (except where noted, especially for line-shopping purposes, which I also preach).
Takes on NFL
Chiefs (-3) at Broncos (O/U 49)
Tuley’s Take: I would usually love to make a case for the home dog here (divisional rivalry, short week, better defense, etc.), but with the Broncos winning two straight and the Chiefs losing two straight, this line is down to a field goal and that’s too short for me. I’m not even tempted because, even though Vic Fangio’s defense is playing much better (ranked No. 4 in yards allowed per game), none of the offenses they’ve faced of late stretch the field the way the Chiefs do. Even if the Broncos contain Patrick Mahomes & Co., I don’t trust the Broncos’ offense to keep up. I took the Over on the NFL Consensus Page, but don’t like it enough. Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: Chiefs in all of my rare SU & ATS contests that include TNF).
Cardinals (O/U 49) at Giants (-3)
Tuley’s Take: Kyler Murray vs. Daniel Jones. The Giants are basically favored due to home- field advantage (though we’ve seen how that’s fared this season), but I’m not willing to pull the trigger on the Cards as road dogs. The lean would again be to the Over with these two terrible defenses (Giants No. 28, Cardinals No. 30) but not confident enough that the offenses will take advantage. Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: Cardinals in slightly more ATS contests and pretty much 50/50 in SU pools).
Texans (O/U 48) at Colts (-1.5)
Tuley’s Take: The Texans came through for us big-time last week in their upset of the Chiefs, and I’m happy to get them again as underdogs here. I guess it’s probably due to the Colts also beating the Chiefs the last time they played, and oddsmakers and the public like teams coming off a bye week. While both their defenses stood up to the Chiefs, I give the edge to DeShaun Watson and the Houston offense. Best Bet: Texans 1.5 (contest strategy: Texans 90/10 in ATS contests and at least 75/25 in SU pools).
Dolphins (O/U 40.5) at Bills (-17) Tuley’s Take: The Dolphins finally covered a spread in their 17-16 loss to the Redskins last
week, so at least we saw some effort from this hapless team that everyone is accusing of tanking. (Insert joke about the lame 2-point conversion attempt that still kept them on the inside track
to the No. 1 draft pick.) But I’m backing Miami this week mostly due to my opinion that the Bills shouldn’t be favored by 17 over any NFL team.
I’m fully aware the Bills are 4 -1 ATS as I’ve been on them several times myself, but those lines weren’t -17. They were 2.5, - 1.5, -6 (the lone non -cover vs the Bengals, and another reason not to trust the Bills to cover as faves), 7 and 3.5. Yes, I know the Dolphins are allowing 36 points per game, but the Bills are averaging just 18. They might score more against Miami, but I’m betting the Dolphins can stay within three scores. Best Bet: Dolphins 17 (contest strategy: Dolphins in all ATS contests and the Bills only around 75/25 in SU pools as I’ll take a few shots at the upset).
Vikings (-1) at Lions (O/U 45)
Tuley’s Take: The Lions have to disappointed to be only 2-2 - 1 as they had a shot to upset the Chiefs and, of course, we all saw what happened Monday night in Green Bay (though they only have themselves to blame for allowing the Cardinals to rally for their tie in Week 2). Here’s hoping they can rebound from that in this NFC North battle against the Vikings, who have had consistency problems of their own, though Kirk Cousins and his disgruntled receivers have played better since their 16-6 loss at Chicago in Week
4. I lean to the Lions with something to prove, but not enough to bet straight or use in the major contests here in Vegas. Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: Lions around 55/45 in all SU & ATS contests).
Raiders (O/U 47) at Packers (-6)
Tuley’s Take: The Raiders are coming off their bye week after wins at Indianapolis and in London vs. the Bears, so that has contributed to this
line coming up lower than a touchdown. While I’ve cashed the last two times I’ve faded the Packers (who I still maintain are overrated) vs. the Eagles and Lions, this isn’t enough points for me to jump in on the Raiders despite their recent performances. Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: Packers around 67/33 in ATS contests and closer to 90/10 in SU pools).
Jaguars (-3.5) at Bengals (O/U 43.5) Tuley’s Take: At this time last week, I didn’t like the Bengals 11 enough vs. the Ravens to make it a best bet, though by Saturday, I did include it in my Circa Sports Million plays that went 4-1. I’m similarly on the fence this week as I like getting the 3 and the hook, but I wouldn’t call it a best bet if it was only 3. The Bengals (0-6 SU) have been competitive enough to be 3-3 ATS, including getting the back-door cover last week. The main reason I’m taking the Bengals is that defenses seem to have adapted to defending Gardner Minshew, so I believe this will be a low -scoring, tight game and that’s what also makes the 3.5 more valuable (also lean to the Under). Best Bet:
Bengals 3.5 (contest strategy: Bengals 70/30 in ATS contests – though flipping to Jaguars
if offered at -2.5 – and close to 50/50 in SU pools).
Rams (-2.5) at Falcons (O/U 54)
Tuley’s Take: I guess some people are looking to fade the Rams off their three-game losing streak, but I’m disappointed this situation has led to this line being depressed so much. I’m also reluctant to trust the Falcons’ defense (ranked No. 26 and allowing 31 points per game) to keep the Rams on the skids. The only thing making me consider taking the Falcons is the way they stepped up as home dogs against the Eagles in Week 2, but the rest of their resume has me staying away. Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: Rams around 60/40 in ATS contests and 70/30 in SU pools).
49ers (-10) at Redskins (O/U 41.5) Tuley’s Take: We’re all aware of the Redskins’ woes (and barely beating the lowly Dolphins doesn’t raise their power rating at all) while the 49ers continue to roll as the NFC’s last remaining undefeated team (5-0 SU & 4-1 ATS), but I can’t pass up the double -digit home underdog here. The 49ers have all the statistical edges, but this is all about the number and the thought that the 49ers’ main priority will be to get out of this game healthy and a victory by any margin. Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: Rams around 60/40 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Chargers (O/U 40) at Titans (-2)
Tuley’s Take: These teams both started the season on high notes with the Chargers beating the Colts and the Titans upsetting the Browns, but they’ve both only won once since then and the wins weren’t nearly as impressive with the Chargers only beating the lowly Dolphins and the Titans only able to beat the Falcons. This is a coin-flip to me, but I love the Under 40 just like I was on the Titans-Broncos Under last week. As poor as both teams are playing overall, both defenses are allowing fewer than 20 points per game and I expect that to happen here. Best Bet: Under 40 (contest play: Titans in slightly more SU & ATS contests).
Ravens (O/U 50) at Seahawks (-3.5) Tuley’s Take: This game is similar in my mind to the Bengals-Jaguars as I’m trying to figure if I’m getting sucked into a play just because of the 3. 5. The Ravens still seem like the right side (and the Seahawks’ home-field advantage hasn’t been as strong, in line with the rest of the league, so it seems like this line is shaded a little high). But the Ravens have also come down to Earth after their fast start once they faced better competition. I’m gonna bite, but again this probably won’t be one of my top contest plays. Best Bet: Ravens 3.5 (contest strategy: Ravens around 60/40 in ATS contests but Seahawks around 67/33 in SU pools).
Saints (O/U 38.5) at Bears (-3)
Tuley’s Take: Now here’s an underdog I feel completely confident in backing (and already gave out as a play on my weekly appearances on VSiN’s “Opening Lines” show on Sunday night and “Betting Across America” on Monday afternoon). I’m actually surprised the Bears are favored by a full field goal here considering their embarrassing loss to the Raiders in London, plus the fact the Saints are 4 -0 SU & ATS in starts by Teddy Bridgewater. The Bears might be getting QB Mitchell Trubisky back, but the jury is still out on whether that’s an upgrade or not. Best Bet: Saints 3 (contest strategy: Saints in all ATS contests – though flip in half of those that go with Bears -2.5 -- and also around 70/30 in SU pools).
Eagles (O/U 48.5) at Cowboys (-3) Tuley’s Take: I’ve been banging the drum for the Eagles in recent weeks, winning against the Packers three weeks ago but suffering my only loss last week against the Vikings. Despite that setback, I still consider them one of the best teams in the NFC and willing to come right back on them against a Cowboys team that has been exposed in recent weeks. Heck, I took the Jets 7 against them last week, but didn’t expect to win that easy (though the Cowboys outstated them and almost rallied for the victory). Best Bet: Eagles 3 (contest strategy: Eagles 80/20 in ATS contests and at least 60/40 in SU pools).
Patriots (-9.5) at Jets (O/U 42.5)
Tuley’s Take: This Monday nighter is similar to Sunday’s 49ers-Redskins game (undefeated team laying double digits – or close to it – at team coming off first win of season) and I’m taking the home dog again. The Jets looked like a completely new team with Sam Darnold returning from mono. And don’t forget that the Jets covered with Luke Falk in Week 3 at New England, though it took a pick-6 against Pats backup Jarrett Stidham. Still, the Jets’ defense kept it close enough. Now, the Jets get the Patriots at home in what amounts to their Super Bowl. Best Bet: Jets 9.5 (contest strategy: Jets around 67/33 in ATS contests – 100 percent at 10.5 – and Patriots only around 67/33 in SU pools as I’ll take a few shots).
Takes on College Football
As mentioned in the intro, we suffered our worst NCAA record of the season at 0-3 ATS as Eastern Michigan, Florida and Fresno State all let us down. (Note: hope any followers were able to get Florida 14 for a push.) That dropped our CFB Best Bet record here in PSW to 13 -11-1 ATS (54.2 percent), though I only went 0-2 in the Golden Nugget contest (which uses both NCAA
NFL games) to stay in the hunt at 26-15-1 (63.4 percent) as my “dog-or-pass” philosophy came in handy when they made Eastern Michigan -1. Somehow, I went 7-3 on the VSiN CFB Consensus page last week but only used the Florida play; this week, all three of my Best Bets come from that page so hoping for the same success.
Northwestern ( 28) vs. Ohio State
I generally avoid these ultra-high point spreads and I know the Buckeyes are blowing everyone out and have covered their last five games after failing to cover vs. Florida Atlantic in their opener. But I think this number has steamed too high. NU coach Pat Fitzgerald always get his team up for their Big Ten rivals, and the Wildcats covered their last two games at Wisconsin (31- 10 as 23-point road underdogs) and at Nebraska (13-10 as 7.5-point road dogs). I expect them to do the same at home. I’m certainly not calling for a South Carolina-Georgia-type upset, but give me the four-TD head-start.
Baylor ( 4) at Oklahoma State
Baylor is undefeated at 6-0 and now ranked No. 18, yet the Bear are underdogs here. This can sometimes be what many call a “trap game,” but I still have Baylor as the better team and will gladly take the points (and it’s continuing to climb higher as it opened as low as OSU -2.5 at Circa and -3 at most other books). Both these teams faced Texas Tech in their last outings with Baylor finding a way to win and Oklahoma State losing. They both also easily beat Kansas State, though Baylor had to do it on the road while OSU was at home. Basically, I feel I’m getting the better team that knows how to find its way to the winner’s circle.
Tulane ( 4) at Memphis
Both teams are 5-1 and again I feel the home team is being given too many points for home-field advantage. Tulane’s only loss is to Auburn, so no shame in that. Memphis is coming off its first loss, 30-28 at Temple. Tulane has beaten up on some weak competition (as has Memphis), but I was particularly impressed with their wins over Houston and Army and calling for the outright upset just like in the Baylor game.
Takes on MLB Playoffs
As mentioned in the intro, our picks in the “Tuley’s Takes Extra!” on the website late last week started nicely with the Nationals 105 in Friday’s Game 1 of the NLCS and the Yankees -Astros Under 9 in Saturday’s Game 1 of the ALCS.
We haven’t had a play in the rest of the NLCS as the Nationals have been favored in Games 2-4 and we might not get them as dogs again in the series, but we’ll be content with our 1.05 units of profit. In the ALCS, we lost on Over 7.5 in Games 2 and 3, plus another unit on the Yankees as home dogs in Game 3. That leaves our overall record at 11-11 and a net profit of 0.91 units. We’ll continue with our game plan of taking the Yankees as home dogs or at 200 or higher as road dogs while also going Over any totals below 8 runs (even though that hasn’t worked so far).
With the World Series slated to start next Tuesday, we’ll have another “Tuley’s Takes Extra!” at vsin.com (and in the VSiN newsletter) when the final matchup is set. If weather postponements push the start of the World Series to next Wednesday, we’ll just include it here in PSW.