Tuesday morning brought the news to the Tuley’s Takes home office that we’ve all been dreading: Positive COVID-19 tests in the Tennessee Titans organization could impact Sunday’s game against the Steelers. It could also affect the Vikings, who faced the Titans last weekend and are scheduled to visit the Texans.
But we can only handicap the games in front of us, so we’ll proceed per usual until we get official word of any postponements. We have a full plate of sporting events this week even with the NHL ending Monday. The MLB playoffs started Tuesday with a full slate of eight games Wednesday, the NBA Finals begin Wednesday, we have another weekend of football action plus we have the Preakness, which I’ll preview Friday in our weekly “Tuley’s Thoroughbred Takes” column at VSiN.com/horses.
TULEY’S TAKES ON MLB PLAYOFFS
I didn’t post an MLB postseason betting preview because I have no strong opinions on the American League wild-card series that started Tuesday. The Twins (-190) and Rays (-220) looked priced just about right in their series against the Astros and Blue Jays, respectively, while the Yankees-Indians and White Sox-A’s looked like the coin flips they’re priced at around pick-’em.
It looks like better betting opportunities in the National League. The Reds are live underdogs at + 120, both in Game 1 and for the series, against the Braves. And as much as I hate to admit it as a lifelong Cubs fan, the Marlins have a better chance than their + 175 series price and + 155 in Game 1 at Wrigley Field.
I lost a division futures bet on the Padres in the NL West, but I’m hoping for another shot at the Dodgers with the up-and-coming team. The Padres are about 4-1 to win the NL pennant, but I’m instead betting them -190 to win their series over the Cardinals and then will roll over my winnings in the subsequent series. If they win the three series needed to win the NL, I estimate I’ll get closer to a payoff of 6-1. If you’re considering your own future wagers, try to map out your team’s path and if this approach will pay bigger dividends. It usually will, plus it gives you the flexibility to pull out profits along the way or take your money and run in the event your team advances through a round but suffers key injuries.
TULEY’S TAKE ON NBA FINALS
The Lakers are in the NBA Finals as expected and facing LeBron James’ former team, the Miami Heat, who weren’t expected to be here but dominated No. 1 seed Milwaukee and went 13-3 SU and ATS in winning the Eastern Conference. The Heat have been very good to us as underdogs, and I’m playing them again in the Finals. I’m not betting the series price of + 285, which seems too short. But they are playing well enough to win one or two games and cover at least once in their losses to make it profitable to take the points each game even if they lose the series, starting with + 4.5 in Wednesday’s Game 1.
TULEY’S TAKES ON NFL WEEK 4
Last week was a roller coaster in the NFL. I won my Best Bet on the Dolphins + 3 on Thursday night. I struggled at 2-4 ATS on Sunday’s day schedule, winning with the Bears and Bengals but losing on the Raiders, Texans, Jets and Broncos. Then I improved to 5-4 ATS overall with the Packers and Chiefs in the Sunday and Monday night prime-time games. Unfortunately, I went 2-3 ATS on the VSiN Best Bets page and most of my contest entries to lose a little ground. Let’s get to this week’s card, with lines being the consensus of Vegas books as of Tuesday afternoon.
Broncos (-1) at Jets
Former Boise State QB Brett Rypien is the third starter for Denver this season, as he gets the nod vs. the Jets. It shouldn’t matter as long as the Jets are as offensively challenged as they’ve been so far. But the line has been moving toward the Jets. The Broncos were -3 as of Monday, but it had dropped to -1 at most Vegas books as of Tuesday afternoon, with some at pick-’em. I would love to get the Broncos as underdogs, so we’ll wait to see if it continues to move.
Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Broncos in all of my rare contests that use “Thursday Night Football”).
Colts (-2.5) at Bears
The Bears have been good to me with their (lucky) rallies vs. the Lions and Falcons, and they now have Nick Foles as the starting QB. I would love to fade the Colts here like I did with the Jaguars in Week 1, as they’ve beaten up on the Vikings and Jets the last two weeks. However, I can’t help but think this line is too short, especially with the move from + 3 to + 2.5. The stronger play is to tease the Bears up to + 8.5 and combine it with one or more of the preferred teasers on the Week 4 card (my favorite being the Packers down to -1 vs. the Falcons on “Monday Night Football”).
Best Bet: Pass except for teasers (pool play: Bears in slightly more than 50/50 of ATS contests and Colts in slightly more than 50/50 of SU pools).
Saints (-4) at Lions
The Saints have gone from being regarded as perhaps the best team in the NFC to 1-2, the same record as the Lions. Both have lost to the Packers, with the Lions holding an early lead and then getting run over 42-21 in Week 2 while the Saints lost 37-30 on Sunday night. Those two scores and several power ratings tell me this line should be higher, so I can’t pull the trigger.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Lions in slightly more ATS contests, especially when getting + 4.5 instead of + 4 or + 3.5, but Saints around 67/33 in SU contests).
Cardinals (-3.5) at Panthers
I usually love home underdogs, so I’ll be kicking myself if these dogs at the top of the betting rotation fare better than the ones I like later on the card. But here’s another I can’t back, even though they upset the Chargers on Sunday. The Cardinals, on whom I have several future-book tickets, looked like a team that was believing its press clippings in letting Sunday’s game against the Lions slip away. I’m trusting that loss has the team refocused, and I’m not fading them here.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Cardinals in all SU pools and around 67/33 in ATS contests as well).
Jaguars at Bengals (-3)
I’ve been on both these teams as dogs, but I’m conflicted in this matchup. As well as the Bengals have been playing and my belief that I’ll be taking them several times as dogs in the future, I’m not as confident in rookie Joe Burrow & Co. as favorites. The Jaguars are the preferred play, but I’m waiting for + 3.5. The line was -3 -120 at several books Tuesday, so there’s a good chance we’ll get the hook if we wait.
Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Jaguars around 60/40 in ATS contests, higher if getting + 3.5, but Bengals around 60/40 in SU pools).
Browns at Cowboys (-4.5)
The Browns have bounced back from their season-opening loss to the Ravens to enter this game at 2-1 and brimming with confidence and a strong running game to back it up. Granted, they have beaten only Cincinnati and Washington, but a win is a win. The Cowboys, on the other hand, can’t help being involved in close games no matter whom they play. This should come down to the final gun, and those 4.5 points could come in handy for the point-spread win.
Best Bet: Browns + 4.5 (pool play: Browns around 75/25 in ATS contests, with the Cowboys just slightly more than 50/50 in SU pools).
Vikings at Texans (OFF)
This game was taken off the board Tuesday with the positive COVID-19 tests by the Titans, to whom the Vikings lost Sunday. I was considering the Vikings + 4 in this battle of 0-3 teams but will obviously be monitoring the Vikings’ test results and who is in or out for this game.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: We’ll have to see how this is handled in all our contests, but all things being normal, I’d use Vikings around 60/40 in ATS contests but Texans around 60/40 in SU pools).
Seahawks (-6.5) at Dolphins
I’ve passed on previous home dogs but am jumping into the pool with the Dolphins. They’ve continued to be competitive with Ryan Fitzpatrick and put together their best game in beating the Jaguars on Thursday night, so they also have extra rest and time to prepare. The 3-0 Seahawks have been impressive, but this could be a letdown spot. I’m also hoping for it to be rainy or humid in South Florida. Seattle certainly is no stranger to wet conditions, but sloppy conditions tend to slow down the faster team and level the playing field.
Best Bet: Dolphins + 6.5 for our purposes here, but personally waiting for + 7 (pool play: Dolphins 67/33 in ATS contests, higher if offered + 7 or + 7.5, but Seahawks around 75/25 in SU pools).
Chargers at Buccaneers (-7.5)
I’ve lost the last two weeks going against Tampa Brady, but the Bucs stop here (at least against the spread). I have to trust my handicapping that the Buccaneers aren’t this good and shouldn’t be laying a full TD against the Chargers. Granted, L.A. lost to the same Panthers team the Bucs beat the week before, but I prefer to focus on the way the Chargers’ defense stepped up in nearly beating the Chiefs in Week 2, and I believe we’ll see rookie QB Justin Herbert continue to improve. The TD and the hook is too much to pass up.
Best Bet: Chargers + 7, though I think we’ll see + 7.5 again (pool play: Chargers in all ATS contests, especially if getting + 7.5, though Buccaneers around 67/33 in SU pools).
Steelers (OFF) at Titans
Again, this game was taken off the board after the positive tests in the Titans organization. The Titans were -3 on the advance line last week and opened -1.5 on Sunday afternoon at the Westgate SuperBook, but the Steelers were bet to favoritism and opened as short faves at most other books Monday. I was considering the Titans as home underdogs but of course will have to monitor the developments and see who’s in and out.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: If Tennessee players cleared to play, taking Titans around 60/40 in SU and ATS contests, possibly more if it appears most people are discounting their chances because of the added off-field concerns).
Ravens (-13) at Washington
OK, get ready to plug our noses through our masks. NFL double-digit home underdogs are my favorite bets in all of sports. The Ravens are obviously the better team — they have to be for a road team to be favored by this many points — but I still believe parity exists and “on any given Sunday” … The Ravens are also coming off a big loss to the Chiefs, so I’ll take as many points as they’ll give me.
Best Bet: Washington + 13 (pool play: Washington around 80/20 in ATS contests, though Ravens still 90/10 in SU pools).
Giants at Rams (-13)
Here’s another double-digit underdog, but even I’m not going to bite on this one. The Rams are looking every bit as strong in their division as the defending NFC champion 49ers, who just throttled the Giants 36-9. And now the Giants have to travel cross country to take on the Rams, who nearly rallied to beat the Bills — and many thought they should have if not for a controversial defensive penalty. No thanks.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Rams in slightly more ATS contests — I have to take double-digit dogs in some contests on principle even if unwilling to bet straight — and all SU pools).
Patriots at Chiefs (-7)
Here’s the reason we get only three Sunday afternoon games this week. The Chiefs cashed for me Monday night against the Ravens and Patrick Mahomes led my fantasy football team over Mitch Moss in the Fans of VSiN league on Facebook, but I have to take the Patriots here as live underdogs. Bill Belichick is still adapting to his new weapon in Cam Newton, but the reliance on the running game with Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead will probably be used to try to keep the Chiefs’ explosive offense off the field. And I can’t help but believe Belichick has some defensive tricks up his sleeve.
Best Bet: Patriots + 7 (pool play: Patriots at least 70/30 in ATS contests and even more if offered + 7.5, though Chiefs still around 60/40 in SU pools).
Bills (-3) at Raiders
The 3-0 Bills come to town, but the Raiders look like live home dogs. The Raiders’ lone home game so far was the Week 2 Monday night win over the Saints. In this pandemic era, we don’t expect the Raiders will benefit as much from the “Vegas flu” that reportedly affected the Golden Knights’ opponents when that franchise first came to town, but there could be something there. Regardless, the Raiders’ best can stick with a Bills team that still looks to grind out wins.
Best Bet: Raiders + 3 (pool play: Raiders 67/33 in ATS contests and slightly more than 50/50 in SU pools).
Eagles at 49ers (-7)
This line has been hovering between -6.5 and -7, and hopefully the latter is here to stay. The 49ers have been impressive even when short-handed, while the Eagles are off to a disappointing 0-2-1 start capped by Sunday’s tie against the Bengals. But I keep looking at the fact the advance line last week for this matchup was 49ers -3.5 and think it’s been adjusted too much. The Eagles are better than their record and can keep this close enough to cover.
Best Bet: Eagles + 7 (pool play: Eagles 67/33 in ATS contests, though 49ers still 70/30 in SU pools).
Falcons at Packers (-7)
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense are off to a great start. Then again, the Falcons’ offense has been off to a great start before folding like the Falcons do. But hopefully the Monday night spotlight will keep them focused to at least cover.
Best Bet: Falcons + 7, though waiting for + 7.5 (pool play: Falcons 75/25 in ATS contests, especially if offered + 7.5, but Packers in nearly all SU pools).