Last weekend started great here in the Tuley’s Takes home office as we went 2-1 ATS with our college football best bets. That came on the heels of the Nationals winning the first two games of the World Series as juicy underdogs as well as the Redskins covering as 17-point dogs on “Thursday Night Football.” However, while having an awesome time with the family at Disneyland and following along on RedZone, our NFL Week 8 best bets here went 3-5 ATS to dip to 32-25 ATS (56.1%) overall.
It was especially disappointing as I had high hopes to make big moves in the big Vegas contests with a handful of double-digit underdogs. But I went 2-3 with my solo entries
in the SuperContest (22-18 overall) and at Circa (21-18-1) while 3-4 in the Golden Nugget (33-
22-1, dropping into tie for 35th in a contest that pays the top 20). The Dolphins bookended the weekend nicely on “Monday Night Football,” but the Bengals, Cardinals and Browns came up short Sunday.
I’m swamped with also handicapping the Breeders’ Cup early this week, as I’ll be part of Ron Flatter’s “handicappers” pop-up podcast coming out Wednesday and will have my writeups of Friday’s and Saturday’s races by Thursday morning at VSiN.com. So let’s get right to the NFL Week 9 card. For newbies, I give my “take” on each NFL game and — since I’m a huge proponent of contest play, as you could see in the intro — I’ll at least give my contest strategy for those looking for input for contests in which 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).
Takes on NFL
49ers (-10) at Cardinals (O/U 43) Tuley’s Take: The 49ers are playing at a high level, but I’m willing to fade them in the Thursday nighter as they have to go on the road on a short week. I’m also forgiving the Cardinals for letting me down in their blowout loss in New Orleans and expect a better effort at home in what could be seen as their Super Bowl. I’m counting on the Cardinals’ running game to help take the pressure off rookie QB Kyler Murray and keep this close. We’ll see how new addition Kenyan
Drake meshes with David Johnson and Chase Edmunds in the Arizona backfield. I didn’t take this on the VSiN NFL Best Bets page as it was
9.5 at the time we chose those (plus I liked five other games better), but I’m on it with the move to double digits. Best Bet: Cardinals 10 (contest strategy: Cardinals in all my rare ATS contests that include “TNF,” but 49ers in SU pools, though I already know one SU pool in which I will take the Cards).
Texans (-2) vs. Jaguars (O/U 46.5)
Tuley’s Take: We have to get up early for this London game (6:30 a.m. PT Sunday), and it might put us back to sleep, so I’ll bet the under as I’m surprised the total is this high — and it opened as high as 47.5 at some books. Didn’t anyone see the Week 2 meeting when the Texans won 13- 12? Granted, many times teams will play an over after an under and vice versa, but I don’t see it being that much different as these familiar foes battle in London to try to keep within striking distance of the Colts in the AFC South. Best Bet: Under 46.5 (contest strategy: Texans in nearly all SU & ATS pools).
Redskins (O/U 37) at Bills (-10)
Tuley’s Take: I’ve had a great handle on the Bills, as I backed them as underdogs early in the season but faded with the Dolphins and Eagles the last two weeks. I respect the Bills’ defense, but with their methodical offense, they shouldn’t be favored by this many points. The Redskins cashed for us Thursday night against the Vikings, and I expect a similar result here as Case Keenum does just enough to keep the Redskins within the number. Best Bet: Redskins 10 (contest strategy) Redskins in all ATS pools unless offered only 9.5, but Bills around 70/30 in SU contests).
Titans (O/U 41.5) at Panthers (- 3.5) Tuley’s Take: Kyle Allen remains the starter for Carolina, and this number seems about right, or at least low enough that I’m not tempted to take the Titans. While I like Tennessee’s defense, I’m not confident enough in Ryan Tannehill and the offense, going against another decent defense in Carolina, to keep up. I lean to the under but will probably pass with it set so low. Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: Panthers around 67/33 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Bears (O/U 43) at Eagles (-5)
Tuley’s Take: Both teams have fallen short of expectations, but at least the Eagles look headed in the right direction with their rout in Buffalo as short road underdogs. Meanwhile, the Bears look like a lost cause with Mitchell Trubisky floundering and the kicking game gremlins rearing their ugly heads again. As with several games this week, the number is too short for me to consider the dog. Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: Eagles around 67/33 in ATS contests and 80/20 in SU pools).
Vikings (OTB) at Chiefs (OTB)
Tuley’s Take: This game was still off the board Tuesday due to Patrick Mahomes’ uncertain status. Circa Sports has the Vikings -2, which to me says they expect Mahomes to be out. As I said on VSiN’s “Betting Across America” show Tuesday, I’ll take the Chiefs as home dogs if Matt Moore starts again. If Mahomes returns, I’m guessing the Chiefs will be favored by 3.5 or 4 points and I’d pass. Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: Chiefs in slightly more SU & ATS pools in case Mahomes does return but mostly splitting 50/50 if I have to put in entries before a decision is announced).
Jets (-3) at Dolphins (O/U 40.5)
Tuley’s Take: Thank you, Dolphins, for cashing for us Monday night at 14 against the Steelers, but I didn’t gain any trust in them as I cringed every time Ryan Fitzpatrick dropped back to pass and every time Mason Rudolph threw deep. The Dolphins’ defense should help New York QB Sam Darnold stop seeing ghosts and instead see wide - open receivers that he hasn’t had since his days at USC. Best Bet: Pass, though, as faithful VSiN subscriber Mac Bridger says, “If Tuley passes on a dog, I see that as a green light to bet the chalk” (contest strategy: Jets in all SU & ATS pools).
Colts (O/U 42.5) at Steelers (-1)
Tuley’s Take: Shhhhh, but as I said on “Betting Across America,” the wrong team is favored here. I can’t understand why it hasn’t flipped at the time of this writing, but I’ll take it. The Steelers, in addition to falling behind 14-0 to the pitiful Dolphins, didn’t show me anything to think they would be favored over the AFC South leaders. And while the Colts, who were -1.5 on the advance line last weekend on the Westgate’s mobile app, struggled to get past the Broncos, their overall resume is far superior to the Steelers. Best Bet: Colts 1 (contest strategy: Colts in all pools).
Lions (O/U 50.5) at Raiders (-2)
Tuley’s Take: I hate repeating “the wrong team is favored” because it sounds like I’m not respecting the oddsmakers or the market, but the wrong team is favored here. Both teams have exceeded expectations and have looked a few times like wild-card contenders. But while the Raiders have suffered three blowout losses, the Lions have been more competitive and have struggled to pull out close games. I’ll take the more battle -tested team, especially because I keep thinking of Aaron Rodgers dissecting the Oakland secondary two weeks ago and expect Matthew Stafford to do the same with Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. Best Bet: Lions 2 (contest play: Lions around 90/10 in all pools).
Buccaneers (O/U 51) at Seattle (-6)
Tuley’s Take: The number is too short for me here (starting to think the oddsmakers are shading these lines lower due to road teams’ success
so far). The Bucs will probably get my money several times in the second half of the season when they’re priced right, like the 9.5 we took against the Rams in Week 5. But 6 or even 7 is too short for going into Seattle. Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: Seahawks around 60/40 in ATS contests and closer to 90/10 in SU pools).
Browns (-3) at Broncos (O/U 39)
Tuley’s Take: Talk about a short line? Granted, the Browns haven’t lived up to their preseason hype, but Joe Flacco is out for the Broncos and Brandon Allen is in. Who’s Brandon Allen, you ask? He was Arkansas’ starting QB from 2013-15 (I had to look it up as I had forgotten all about him) and hasn’t thrown a regular-season NFL pass. How is this line only 3? Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: Browns around 75/25 in ATS contest, though slightly lower if contest line is -3.5, and 90/10 in SU pools).
Packers (-3.5) at Chargers (O/U 47.5) Tuley’s Take: All right, we finally get a home underdog where I feel we’re getting a fair number of points. I know the Chargers don’t have much of a home -field advantage, but that’s more of a bet-against when they’re laying points. This is the time of year when the Chargers usually start to play better, and we saw a little bit of that in their minor upset of the Bears. Besides, I still maintain the Green Bay defense isn’t as strong as its stats and reputation is making it out to be, and the Chargers should have more success against it with the coaches figuring out how to use Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler to help ease some of the pass rush on Phillip Rivers. Best Bet: Chargers 3.5 (contest strategy: Chargers around 75/25 in ATS contests and around 50/50 in SU pools).
Patriots (-3) at Ravens (O/U 44.5)
Tuley’s Take: And we’re back to the short lines! I know the Ravens have shown flashes of brilliance this season, mostly thanks to a relatively soft schedule, and are coming off their bye after an impressive road upset at Seattle. But the Patriots are 7-0 SU & 5-2 ATS and have rolled over nearly every opponent, including a 27-13 win over the Browns last week — the same team that beat these Ravens 45-20 in Week 4. The Patriots are only 3-point favorites? I’ll pass, because even though the Ravens’ defense might contain Tom Brady & Co., I’m sure Bill Belichick will have the Patriots’ No. 1 defense prepared for Lamar Jackson. Best Bet: Pass (contest strategy: Patriots around 75/25 in ATS contests, with Ravens only at 3.5 but still only in a few of my contests, and around 90/10 in SU pool).
Cowboys (-7) at Giants (O/U 48)
Tuley’s Take: I’ve waffled on this game, mostly due to a distrust of the Giants’ defense to contain the Cowboys’ offense (see Dak Prescott’s 405-yard performance in the 35-17 rout in Week 1), but I’m taking the home dog on Monday night. The Giants are at least coming off a decent effort in their spread-covering loss at Detroit, while the Cowboys are coming off a bye. A lot of people like to bet a team off its bye, but I’m hoping maybe a little rust set in and took away the Cowboys’ momentum from their 37-10 rout of the Eagles. Besides, the Cowboys had their worst game of the season in MetLife Stadium
in their 24-22 loss to the Jets, so hopefully it’s their haunted house. Best Bet: Giants 7 (contest strategy: Giants around 80/20 in ATS contests, though flipping to Cowboys in some at -6.5, and Cowboys around 70/30 in SU pools).
Takes on College Football
As mentioned in the intro, we bounced back with a 2- 1 ATS week as Ohio 2.5 won outright over Ball State and Auburn 10.5 covered in a loss to LSU while the loss was on Syracuse 10.5 at Florida State. That gets us back to profitability at 16-14-1 ATS on the season. (Somehow, I went 8- 2 ATS on the VSiN CFB Consensus page, so check out those leans elsewhere in PSW as they’re actually performing better than my so-called best bets here).
Boston College ( 3) at Syracuse
I usually try to avoid betting against a team
that let me down the previous week, because I don’t want to be like so many people who lose on a team and say, “This team sucks; I’m going to fade them next week!” But I truly believe the wrong team is favored here. The only question we have is if Orange QB Dennis Grosel is an adequate replacement for Anthony Brown (out for season, knee) . Grosel mostly handed off to AJ Dillon and David Bailey in BC’s 45-24 win over NC State, and the whole BC team was outclassed in a 59-7 loss at Clemson. But I can forgive that loss, especially since Syracuse was also run over by Clemson, and I prefer to look at the other common opponent as Syracuse lost 16-10 at NC State.
Buffalo ( 2) at Eastern Michigan
Last year Buffalo was my dark-horse pick in the MAC. I thought the Bulls would be down this year, with Eastern Michigan a potential. Well, both teams are 4-4, and I’m back to rating Buffalo as the better team, especially after their 43-20 rout last week of Central Michigan, a team that routed EMU 42-16. Gimme the short road dog again.
SMU ( 5.5) at Memphis
Remember a few weeks ago when we had undefeated Baylor and the whole world was seemingly on false favorite Oklahoma State? Well, I feel the same way here, with undefeated SMU getting so many points against Memphis. I don’t see why the line is so high — or Memphis is even favored at all — as both squeaked by Tulsa and SMU actually routed the team that dealt Memphis its only loss, Temple, by a 45- 21 score and outgained the Owls by 382 yards. But, hey, we’ll gladly take the points.