Remember how we got through the spring and summer with the promise of an abundant sports betting menu in the fall? Well, we’re certainly getting our money’s worth here in the Tuley’s Takes home office even after the NHL, NBA and MLB seasons ended with the Breeders’ Cup last weekend and this week’s Masters.
The Breeders’ Cup wasn’t as lucrative for me as it has been over the years. Vequist, who paid $15.20 to win the Juvenile Fillies, was my only winner on top, though I did have the $48 exacta and $116.20 trifecta in that race. I had another $167.80 exacta in the Juvenile Fillies Turf and another winner with long-shot pick Glass Slippers ($22.40) in the Turf Sprint to help cut my losses.
Even though I didn’t find the right long shots on the Breeders’ Cup card, the fact that Fire At Will ($62.40), Audarya ($37.60), Whitmore ($38.80) and Order of Australia ($148.40) came in at big prices justifies the way I attack the BC. I mean, I know plenty of people who picked and bet the favorites and also lost on the day without the upside of the way we play.
Tuley’s Takes on Masters
On the video version of “Point Spread Weekly,” VSiN colleague Matt Youmans called for all of us to give our takes on this week’s Masters. In major golf tournaments, I usually have a foursome of tickets on players to win, similar to NASCAR, though golf tends to have more long-shot winners. Since I’m a huge proponent of contest play and I know a lot of pools require you to pick one player each from different tiers (favorites, contenders, long shots and really big long shots), that’s how I’ll spread out my action. As always, shop for the best price you can get.
Bryson DeChambeau (8-1, Westgate):
I cashed on DeChambeau at 25-1 in the PGA Championship in September, so I’m ahead with him overall. But I still feel he owes me as I was on him for a long time before he broke through with his first major win.
Patrick Cantlay (30-1, Circa):
He was actually winning late Sunday in last year’s Masters, so he knows the course and has a great chance to be in contention late again. And he should have learned from that experience.
Tiger Woods (41-1, Circa):
He’s not in good form, but he has five green jackets and knows Augusta better than anyone. Will anyone be surprised if he’s in contention again Sunday?
Francesco Molinari (125-1, Westgate):
He’s out of form, too, mostly because he stayed away with his family during the pandemic. But he was also in the running last year, and his focus has been on redemption for 19 months, so I think we’ll see his best effort.
Tuley’s Takes on NFL Week 10
Week 9 was another good one for underdog bettors, as they went 8-5 ATS (Ravens-Colts closed pick-’em) and are 73-54-2 ATS (57.5%) on the season. But I was a little disappointed as my best bets in this column last week went just 3-4 ATS and I had just as many 2-3 entries in the Circa Sports Million and SuperContest as 3-2s. My overall betting did a little better. I tweeted Sunday morning that I was on the Cowboys 14.5 vs. the Steelers, plus we hope readers continue to follow along with our teaser portfolio recommendations, as those went 5-1 with Colts 8.5 the only one to fall short. For the season, our picks in this space are 37-29 (56%) and we’re hoping to continue that in the second half of the season.
So let’s go over the Week 10 card. Lines are the consensus of Vegas books as of Tuesday afternoon. As regular readers know, if I don’t recommend an actual wager on a game, I’ll still give my pool play for those of us in contests in which we have to make picks on every game with my degree of confidence for both SU and ATS pools.
Colts at Titans (-2)
With both teams in the race to make the playoffs, this is the best “Thursday Night Football” matchup we’ve had since the Bucs-Bears in Week 5. I lean to the Titans as I still have them as the better overall team. However, I was really impressed with the Colts’ defense against the Ravens last week, and I think this comes down to a one-score game, so the better way to play this is teasing the Colts up to 8. Again, having a teaser portfolio each week has helped us pad our winnings and even turn what would have been small losing weeks with our ATS bets into small winners. The best teaser options this week to include the key numbers of 3 and 7 are Steelers teased down to -1.5 vs. Bengals, Texans teased up to + 9 at Browns, Bills teased up to + 7.5 at Cardinals, Seahawks teased up to + 7.5 at Rams, Ravens teased down to -1 at Patriots, Chargers teased up to + 8.5 at Dolphins and Bears + 8.5 vs. Vikings. Mix and match depending on your own handicapping.
Best Bet: Pass, except for Colts in teasers (pool play: Titans in all my rare contests that use “Thursday Night Football.”)
Bengals at Steelers (OFF)
This game was off the betting boards Tuesday with four Steelers, most notably Ben Roethlisberger, on the COVID reserve list. Big Ben didn’t test positive and it’s looking like he could still play, but he has to be in the protocol system for five days before being cleared, so oddsmakers are obviously taking a wait-and-see approach. This line has been as high as Steelers -10 on the advance line last week and was down to -7.5 earlier this week after Pittsburgh’s scare against Dallas. Even if the Steelers hadn’t struggled last week, I would be looking to take the Bengals here. Joe Burrow has been keeping them competitive as they’re 6-2 ATS despite a 2-5-1 SU record.
Best Bet: Pass for now, but Bengals + 7.5 or better (pool play: Bengals 67/33 in ATS contests unless the line is put back up under a TD, but Steelers still 80/20 in SU pools).
Washington at Lions (OFF)
This game was also off the board Tuesday because Matthew Stafford was questionable with a concussion after a week in COVID protocol. The line had been posted at Lions -4. It’s tempting to take Washington plus the points, as its defense should keep the Football Team in the game. But I see plenty of other better underdogs on this week’s card.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Washington around 55/45 in ATS contests but Lions around 75/25 in SU pools, though lower if Stafford isn’t cleared).
Texans at Browns (-3 -120)
Baker Mayfield is yet another QB on the reserve/COVID list and needs to pass the protocols to play, though this game being on the betting boards Tuesday makes us believe people in the know believe he will play. The Texans (2-6 SU and 1-7 ATS) have played badly this year, failing to cover in a 27-25 win over the lowly Jaguars in Week 9. But the talent on these two teams is pretty even, so I have no problem playing the Texans (and fading the Browns) here at 3 — though it’s looking like we should get the 3.5 (the South Point was already there Tuesday).
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Texans 75/25 in ATS contests while Browns barely more than 50/50 in SU pools as I’ll take a shot with the Texans pulling the outright upset).
Jaguars at Packers (-13.5)
Let’s see, Jake Luton vs. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at Lambeau Field. Of course, everyone’s loading up to bet the Packers, right? But always remember that the point spread is the great equalizer, and early sharp action already has come in on the Jaguars + 14. Double-digit underdogs are 6-4-1 ATS this season after the Giants, Panthers and Cowboys covered since a week ago Monday vs. the heavily favored Buccaneers, Chiefs and Steelers. Parity still exists in today’s NFL, so I’m taking the huge head start with the Jaguars. Besides, Luton played well, though against a weak Houston defense. So it gives hope that he could lead another drive for a back-door cover if needed.
Best Bet: Jaguars + 13.5, though wait to see if it gets bet back to 14 (pool play: Jaguars 75/25 in ATS contests, though Packers in all SU contests).
Eagles (-3.5) at Giants
The Eagles still lead the NFC Least at 3-4-1 and are favored here. But while the Eagles are the best the division has to offer, I don’t think they should be favored by more than a field goal. Besides, these teams just played Oct. 22, and the Eagles had to rally from an 11-point deficit at home to pull out a 22-21 victory. And now they’re expected to win by more than that on the road? The 2-7 Giants obviously have their issues, but this should come down to a field goal either way.
Best Bet: Giants + 3.5 (pool play: Giants around 70/30 in ATS contests, and I’ll take a stand and take them in slightly more than 50/50 of SU pools).
Buccaneers (-5) at Panthers
I feel I’ve had a good handle on the NFC South lately, backing the Panthers against the Chiefs and fading the Bucs with the Saints on Sunday night, and I see no reason not to do the same with these two facing each other. The Bucs did win this year’s first meeting 31-17 in Tampa, but the Panthers’ offense is playing better now. If Matt Rhule can come up with a similar game plan to the one that almost beat the Chiefs, they have a great chance to turn the tables in this rematch.
Best Bet: Panthers (pool play: Panthers 75/25 in ATS contests and, again, taking a stand and will take Panthers in more than 50/50 of SU pools).
Broncos at Raiders (-5)
My biggest disappointment in Week 9 was the Broncos losing 34-27 at the Falcons. I’m trying not to let that performance sour me on the Broncos, but I just can’t trust them enough to pull the trigger again this week. (I’m setting myself up for even more disappointment if they cover or pull the upset without me having a penny on them.) I’m also siding with the Raiders, as I’m liking how Jon Gruden has his team in the playoff hunt. And I trust him more than Denver’s Vic Fangio to put his team in the best position to win. I’m sure I’ll like the Broncos in the underdog role several more times this season, but not this week.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Raiders 60/40 in ATS contests and around 80/20 in SU pools).
Bills at Cardinals (-1.5)
This is one of the most intriguing matchups of the week. The Cardinals were my dark-horse pick to win the NFC, but the Bills are certainly playing at a high level. This has all the makings of being a shootout like the Bills’ 44-34 win over the Seahawks on Sunday. I would give the edge to the Cardinals, but they’ve already lost at home to the Lions and Dolphins, so that doesn’t bode well. I think the best play is clearly teasing the Bills up to + 7.5.
Best Bet: Pass, except for Bills in teasers (pool play: Bills around 55/45 in ATS contests but Cardinals around 55/45 in SU pools, as it’s pretty much a coin flip).
Seahawks at Rams (-1.5)
This is similar to the Bills-Cardinals game in a lot of ways, which you certainly know if you saw the Seahawks’ games against the Cardinals and Bills and the Rams’ earlier game at the Bills. But while I will be including the Seahawks in teasers, I’ll also be playing the Seahawks straight. The Rams were playing well heading into their bye, but they’ve beaten only the four NFC East teams and the Bears. So the Seahawks are more battle-tested, and I expect Russell Wilson to bounce back from a subpar performance in Buffalo in which he threw two interceptions.
Best Bet: Seahawks + 1.5 (pool play: Seahawks around 70/30 in all SU & ATS contests).
49ers at Saints (-9.5)
The 49ers are another victim of the Super Bowl loser hangover, though injuries should be blamed more than any jinx or curse. I lost with them a week ago Thursday against the Packers and not sure I’ll be jumping back on them even if this line gets to double digits. Maybe it’s the recency of seeing the Saints run roughshod over the Bucs, but I find it hard to think Nick Mullens and the 49ers can keep up with the Saints even with the added time to prepare.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Saints 55/45 in ATS contests but would slip to 49ers if it were to go to 10.5, while Saints 90/10 in SU pools).
Chargers at Dolphins (-2.5)
This should be another fun game in the afternoon session, mostly due to the Chargers’ growing reputation of playing (and losing) close games with rookie QB Justin Herbert. Also, Miami rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa is 2-0 as a starter and has the Dolphins in the playoff race. The Chargers are better than their 2-6 record, and they are a more respectable 5-3 ATS. But the best play is teasing the Chargers up to 8.5 and just cheering for another close game.
Best Bet: Pass, except for teasing Chargers (pool play: Chargers around 55/45 in ATS contests, especially if offered 3.5, but Dolphins around 67/33 in SU pools).
Ravens (-7) at Patriots
The Patriots are tempting as home dogs getting a full touchdown, but my early-week lean is that it’s not enough points to get me involved. The Ravens struggled against the Colts’ defense yet still pulled away to win 24-10 and cover. Lamar Jackson & Co. shouldn’t get as much resistance from the Patriots’ defense, especially if former Raven Joe Flacco and the Jets could have so much success against it. And the Ravens’ D certainly has the edge going against Cam Newton and the Patriots’ offense.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Ravens around 60/40 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Vikings (-2.5) at Bears
The “Monday Night Football” matchup gives us teams heading in opposite directions. The Bears were 5-1 but have lost three straight to fall to 5-4 with veteran Nick Foles looking as lost as, well, Mitchell Trubisky. The Vikings started 1-5 but have won two straight thanks to back-to-back 200-yard games from RB Dalvin Cook. The change in the perception of these teams is evident in the fact the advance line for this game was Bears -2 but has now flipped to Vikings -2.5. That line is also juiced at -120, and there’s a very good chance we see it get to the key number, and that’s when I would jump in on the Bears. Even with the reversal of fortunes with these teams, I would still trust Foles in a prime-time game over Kirk Cousins. However, the better bet is probably teasing the Bears up to 8.5 or higher and hopefully capping teasers with the aforementioned plays.
Best Bet: Pass for now, but Bears at + 3 (pool play: Bears 60/40 in ATS contests, though Vikings still around 60/40 in SU pools).