As I asked in my daily version of this column on VSiN.com: Did you make money betting the NFL last weekend? (Visit vsin.com/news/dave-tuley-columns for your bookmarking pleasure every morning.)
If you followed along with my best bets here in Point Spread Weekly, we went 5-1 ATS in NFL Week 7, so you certainly had a winning weekend. We also swept our teaser plays with the Broncos, Packers, Dolphins and Patriots, and I included lukewarm support of the Colts.
But even if you just played your own picks, you probably came out ahead as most of the popular sides came through for bettors, even though chalk was just 6-6 ATS over the weekend. That’s because, even though the public usually prefers favorites, some of the underdogs that covered — such as the Bengals, Titans, Colts and Seahawks — were popular plays and helped the Top 5 consensus plays in the Circa Sports Million and SuperContest go 4-1.
But that’s enough reminiscing about last weekend. Let’s go over the NFL Week 8 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.
Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals (-6)
This is a great Thursday night matchup with the undefeated Cardinals (7-0) hosting the Packers (6-1). The Cardinals were -3 on the advance line last week. That increased to -3.5 after Arizona routed the Texans on Sunday while the Packers beat Washington 24-10. Then it was announced Monday that Green Bay WR Davante Adams was going into the COVID-19 protocol and the line spiked to Cardinals -6. I’m sure the conventional wisdom, especially among recreational bettors who might not even know the line was lower, will be “you have to take Aaron Rodgers plus the points.” But I’m not so sure. If Washington could outgain the Packers 430 yards to 304, I shudder to think what the Cardinals could do. So, yes, I’m resisting taking the points with Rodgers as a dog. I know it’s against the “Wong teaser” rules as the line is below a touchdown, but I’m tempted to start our Week 8 teasers with the Cardinals just needing to win straight up. Other possible teasers on a second straight week with few advantage teasers (meaning you capture the key numbers of 3 and 7) include the Panthers from + 2.5 to + 8.5 at the Falcons, the Colts + 1 up to + 7 against the Titans and the Vikings + 2.5 up to + 8.5 vs. the Cowboys. While I lean to the Under as the Cardinals are No. 4 in the league, allowing just 316.7 yards and 16.3 points per game, I’m probably passing due to the thought of the Cardinals’ offense vs. the Green Bay defense, even though the possible absence of Adams helps. Best Bet: Cardinals in teasers (pool play: Cardinals in all my rare contests that include “Thursday Night Football”).
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-13.5)
The Bills were -11 on the advance line last week, and it has increased to -13.5 after the Dolphins lost a close game to the Falcons and the Bills were on a bye. That looks like an overadjustment to me. Granted, the Falcons don’t compare to the Bills, especially on defense, but I saw some signs of life from QB Tua Tagovailoa, RB Myles Gaskin and Co. that showed me the Dolphins could stay competitive with the Bills or at least within two TDs. Yes, I know the Bills blanked the Dolphins 35-0 in Week 2, but that’s the nature of the NFL. Sometimes games turn into routs that don’t indicate how close these teams are. Best Bet: Dolphins + 13.5 (pool play: Dolphins 67/33 in ATS contests, but Bills at least 90/10 in SU pools).
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-2.5/-3)
These are teams seemingly heading in opposite directions. The Panthers have lost four straight after a 3-0 start, while the Falcons have won three of four to get to .500 at 3-3 and back into the NFC wild-card race. So I understand why the Falcons are favored, whereas the Panthers would have been road chalk if this had been played a few weeks ago. The Carolina defense has come back to earth but is still ranked No. 3 in yards allowed per game after a soft early schedule had it at No. 1. But I still think it’s strong enough to contain Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ offense. I’m not confident enough to take the Panthers plus the points since they pretty much have to pull the outright upset, but I love them in 6-point teasers as we capture both the key numbers of 3 and 7. Best Bet: Panthers teased up to + 8.5 (pool play: Panthers 55/45 in ATS contests, though Falcons 55/45 in SU pools).
Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) at Detroit Lions
If the Lions go 0-16, they’ll be the best winless team in history. They should have beaten the Ravens and threw a major scare into the Rams last week as 16.5-point underdogs. So I definitely see them hanging with the Eagles and maybe getting that elusive win. I’m very surprised by the love from bookmakers and bettors that has been shown to the inconsistent Eagles, with wins over only the Falcons and the reeling Panthers. Yet they were bet down from + 3 to pick-’em against the Raiders last week and have gone from -3 to -3.5 in this game. But I’ll gladly take as many points as they give us. Best Bet: Lions + 3.5 (pool play: Lions 70/30 in ATS contest, but Eagles just slightly at 55/45 in SU pools).
Tennessee Titans (-1) at Indianapolis Colts
Both teams have turned around their seasons after rocky starts in which the Titans were routed by the Cardinals in Week 1 and Colts lost their first three. This game is probably the only chance for the Colts, who are 3-4 and trail Tennessee by two games, to challenge the Titans for the AFC South. The Titans are on a serious roll after beating the Bills and Chiefs, but the Colts have the balance of offense and defense to keep up with them. Again, similar to the Panthers-Falcons game, the best way to bet it is by using the Colts in teasers. For our purposes, we’ll include them in 6-point teasers up to + 7, but we’ll wait to see if the public bets the Titans up to -1.5, so we can tease through the touchdown to + 7.5. Best Bet: Colts in teasers (pool play: Colts 55/45 in ATS contests and SU pools).
Los Angeles Rams (-14.5) at Houston Texans
Is Tyrod Taylor ready to return for the Texans? They beat the Jaguars in Week 1 and Taylor threw a TD pass as they were hanging with the Browns in Week 2 before he injured his left hamstring. The Texans, with Davis Mills in his place, have averaged less than eight points a game the last five weeks, and I wouldn’t trust them to keep this close. However, I’m sure I’ll add the Texans to my best bets if Taylor is cleared to start, especially if the public continues to bet the line higher. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Texans 55/45 in ATS pools — higher if the line steams higher — but Rams still at least 90/10 in SU pools, and that low only if Taylor returns).
Cincinnati Bengals (-10) at New York Jets
This line was only Bengals -3.5 on the advance line last week, but then the Bengals routed the Ravens 41-17 and the Jets were routed even worse at 54-13 by the Patriots and lost QB Zach Wilson. The line reopened at Bengals -9.5, and it already had been bet to -10 as of Tuesday. I usually love double-digit home dogs, but I saw enough of the Jets’ offense with Mike White that it’s easy to resist. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Bengals 55/45 in ATS contests but in all SU pools).
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (-3.5)
I have nothing against Case Keenum if he has to start again for Baker Mayfield, and D’Ernest Johnson showed that any healthy running back can fill in for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and keep the Browns’ rushing attack potent. But I still think this line should be closer, considering the Browns’ other walking wounded. The Steelers have been inconsistent, but they beat the Bills in Week 1 and are still strong enough on both sides of the ball to stand up to the Browns in a game both teams need to have a shot at catching the Bengals and Ravens in the AFC North. I also like the fact the Steelers are 7-3 SU in their last 10 post-bye games under Mike Tomlin. Granted, they’re only 3-7 ATS, but that doesn’t matter in this case as they were favorites in most games during those years. That trend still tells me that Tomlin will have his team ready off their bye. Best Bet: Steelers + 3.5 (pool play: Steelers 75/25 in ATS contests and 60/40 in SU pools as I’m calling for the outright upset).
San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) at Chicago Bears
Both teams are reeling, and I’d say they were mirror images of each other if rookie QBs Trey Lance and Justin Fields face each other. Both look overwhelmed by NFL defenses so far. It’s tempting to go with the Bears as home dogs getting more than a field goal, but I still think Jimmy Garoppolo gives the 49ers an edge. RB Elijah Mitchell also looks like a beast for the 49ers. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: 49ers 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).
Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks (-3.5)
Every week there’s a point spread that tempts me to ignore my dog-or-pass philosophy — and this is it. Despite getting their first win of the season for Urban Meyer, the Jaguars are fade candidates. The Seahawks are 0-3 at home, but that should change here. Even with Geno Smith starting in place of Russell Wilson, I don’t see why this line isn’t closer to a touchdown. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Seahawks 75/25 in ATS contests and all pools).
New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers (-5.5)
The Chargers are becoming a public team at 4-2, though they trail the Raiders by half a game in the AFC West. The public also likes to bet teams off a bye, so I’m expecting more money to come in on the favorites and give us a nice value bet on Bill Belichick as an underdog. Believe me, I’m not putting much stock in the Patriots’ 54-13 rout of the Jets, though obviously it’s a good sign of the offense improving under Mac Jones. But I still love the fact that the Pats lost only 19-17 to the mighty Buccaneers and just 35-29 to the Cowboys in OT. Those showed me they can at least cover against the Chargers. Besides, while I know Justin Herbert isn’t a rookie like the ones Belichick usually baffles, he’s still a young second-year player, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the old wizard has something up his sleeve. Best Bet: Patriots + 5.5 or higher (pool play: Patriots 67/33 in ATS contests, though still Chargers 60/40 in SU pools).
Washington Football Team at Denver Broncos (-3)
Washington really should have beaten the Packers or at least covered Sunday after outgaining them but shooting themselves in the foot in the red zone, so it’s tempting to take the Football Team plus the points against the Broncos. However, this number is just a little too short for my liking. If we were at least getting the hook at + 3.5, I would probably bite. But we’ve seen some indication that it’s more likely to dip to 2.5. That would make it a teaser candidate, so that’s something to look forward to in the “Tuley’s Takes Today” updates at VSiN.com later in the week. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Broncos 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 70/30 in SU pools).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-5) at New Orleans Saints
Here’s another tempting home dog, though home dogs are 20-21 ATS as we’ve seen a decline in home-field advantage recently, so these aren’t the automatic plays they used to be. The Saints have been inconsistent but are still 4-2 with an impressive 38-3 rout of the Packers in Week 1 that makes me think they can match up with the Bucs. Still, this number is short, considering how well the Buccaneers have been playing on both sides of the ball. If it climbs higher — and we all know how the public loves to back Tom Brady — I’ll probably bite on the Saints at + 6 or better. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Saints 55/45 in ATS contests, but Buccaneers 75/25 in SU pools).
Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) at Minnesota Vikings
The Cowboys have won five straight games after their opening-night loss to the Buccaneers, while the Vikings are trying to stay in the wild-card chase, so I’m a little surprised this line isn’t higher. With the Vikings’ offensive weapons to match the Cowboys’ arsenal, it’s tempting to take the Vikings, but I’d need at least a field goal. Again, we’ll update in “Tuley’s Takes Today” if it becomes bettable, but for the time being I’m content to use the Vikings as the Sunday night anchor of my teaser portfolio. Best Bet: Vikings in teasers (pool play: Vikings 75/25 in ATS contests — higher if offered + 3.5 — but Cowboys still 60/40 in SU pools).
New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs (-10)
The Super Bowl loser hangover continues to haunt the Chiefs. Now they’re installed as 10-point home favorites on “Monday Night Football” against the Giants, who improved to only 2-5 with their 25-3 rout of the Panthers. Still, that result, combined with the Chiefs’ 27-3 loss to the Titans, caused this line to go from Chiefs -13 on the advance line last week to just -10 now. I think it’s a valid adjustment as the Giants actually impressed me with their win Sunday, even though it was against the reeling Panthers. Besides, even when the Chiefs were the betting world’s darlings, they still weren’t covering spreads. I look for a close game with the Giants at least covering the spread. They could pull the upset if the Chiefs don’t protect Patrick Mahomes and he doesn’t stop turning the ball over. Best Bet: Giants + 10 (pool play: Giants 67/33 in ATS contests — slightly higher at + 10.5 and slightly lower at + 9.5 — though Chiefs still around 75/25 in SU pools).