Are we having fun yet? We sure are in the Tuley’s Takes home office. During those boring, quarantined months in the spring and summer, we were promised it would all be worth it in the fall with an overflowing cornucopia of sporting events. And it has all come true.
The football season has been exciting, though I’m a little disappointed. I’ve mostly been trading money, going 3-5 ATS in the NFL last weekend to drop to 15-15 ATS in this column, though I went 4-0-1 with Over/Unders and 7-2-1 overall on the VSiN Consensus page to improve to 22-17-1. However, I’ve done a poor job of narrowing my Best Bets. They’re 9-11 on the VSiN NFL Best Bets page and in most of my Vegas handicapping contests, though I do have one entry at 11-9. But the great thing about the SuperContest and Circa Sports Million is both have quarterly prizes. The next one starts this week for NFL Weeks 5-8, so we’re alive, baby!
Anyway, before we get to this week’s NFL card, let’s look at the continuing MLB playoffs and the NBA Finals.
TULEY’S TAKES ON MLB PLAYOFFS
The wild-card round proved profitable for me and hopefully our readers. I totally missed on the Reds, who didn’t even score a run in getting swept by the Braves, but more than made up for it with wins on the Marlins + 155 and + 180 in their sweep of the Cubs.
I believe the Marlins are similarly undervalued in their NLDS vs. the Braves and took them + 185 in Tuesday’s Game 1. That lost 9-5 after the Marlins were leading into the seventh inning, but I’ll still take the Marlins at + 150 or better in any other game of the five-game series.
As for the other NL series, I wrote last week that I bet the Padres -190 in their wild-card series against the Cardinals and would roll over my winnings to each subsequent series to try to get a bigger payoff than the previously posted 4-1 odds to win the NL pennant. So I took my $290 and put it on the Padres + 250 to win the NLDS vs. the Dodgers (it will return $1,105 if they pull it off).
In the ALDS, I’m kicking myself for not backing the Astros vs. the Twins or in Game 1 vs. the A’s. The Yankees-Rays still looks like a toss-up, but the way the Bronx Bombers are hitting, the Over seems the only way to go.
TULEY’S TAKE ON NBA FINALS
As I wrote last week, I took the Heat plus the points in the first three games of the Finals. And though they went 1-2 SU, we were 2-1 ATS after they covered in Friday’s 124-114 loss as 10.5-point underdogs and then won outright as 9.5-point dogs in Sunday’s 115-104 upset. I took the Heat + 8 in Tuesday night’s Game 4 and plan to do so for the rest of the series, as I predicted they would have a winning ATS record even if they don’t win the title.
TULEY’S TAKES ON NFL WEEK 5
We have a lot of big spreads this week, but one thing I’m trying to figure out is if 7 is the new 3 in today’s NFL with the higher scoring and if 14 needs to replace 10 as the threshold for “double-digit underdogs.” As is always the case, even though I’m a self-proclaimed dog-or-pass bettor, I don’t take every underdog and need to get enough points before being willing to pull the trigger. Let’s get to this week’s card, with lines being the consensus of Vegas books as of Tuesday afternoon. And, 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 a pick on every game with my degree of confidence for both SU and ATS pools.
Buccaneers (-5.5) at Bears
In the Thursday nighter, we get the Super Bowl LII rematch of Tom Brady vs. Nick Foles (but with different teams). I was happy to cash with the Chargers + 7.5 vs. the Buccaneers in Week 4 as I continue to fade the Buccaneers, but while I think the Bears are the right side here, I don’t feel strongly enough to make it a best bet. I think the better option is going Over 44.5. This total seems low to me, probably due to the Bears scoring only 11 points in Foles’ first start vs. the Colts, but I expect Brady and Foles to have success in this rematch. Best Bet: Over 44 (pool play: Bears in my rare ATS contests that include “TNF,” though taking Bucs in SU pools).
Panthers at Falcons (-2.5/-3)
The Panthers are coming off back-to-back upsets of the Chargers and Cardinals, so they’re tempting underdogs against the 0-4 Falcons. However, the Falcons are another team taking a step down in class after a rough opening schedule. The best bet here is to tease the Panthers up to + 8.5 and mix and match with other teasers that give us the key numbers of 3 and 7: Rams down to -2, Cardinals down to -1, Steelers down to -1, 49ers down to -2, Browns up to + 8.5, Seahawks down to -1 and Saints down to -7.5. (I say mix and match, as you’ll see I like some of the opposite sides of those teasers, so not playing them all but just pointing out the advantageous teasers on this week’s card). Best Bet: Pass on Panthers + 2.5, but tease up to + 8.5 (pool play: Panthers around 55/45 in ATS contests, all of those if offering + 3.5, but Falcons around 55/45 in SU pools).
Raiders at Chiefs (-13)
It’s tough to fade the Chiefs for a full 60 minutes, so I’m not going to do it here. The Raiders don’t have enough weapons to keep up with the Chiefs, but more importantly for our purposes, the Raiders’ defense hasn’t shown enough to slow down the Chiefs, and I’m afraid this will be a K.C. blowout just like the last three meetings between these division rivals. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Chiefs around 60/40 in ATS contests despite the huge number, plus all SU pools).
Broncos at Patriots (Off)
This game is off the board as oddsmakers and bookmakers wait to see if Cam Newton can be cleared from the COVID-19 list to return Sunday, plus Denver QB Drew Lock is 50/50 to return from his shoulder injury. Last week’s advance line was Broncos + 10 before the Newton news. It might come down with the Broncos winning their first game behind Brett Rypien and the Patriots losing if Newton doesn’t return, so I’m sure the Broncos will be an attractive dog. Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Broncos around 55/45 in ATS contests if getting at least a touchdown, but Patriots around 80/20 in SU pools regardless of who starts at QB).
Rams (-8) at Washington
One of the biggest disappointments of Week 4 (along with the Chargers blowing their 24-7 lead vs. the Buccaneers) was pushing with my bets on Washington + 14 but losing with my published plays here in “PSW” at + 13 and in the SuperContest and Circa Sports Million. Even though the Rams struggled to beat the Giants 17-9 and didn’t cover the spread, this line seems too short for me to back Washington again. But if you do back the “Football Team,” my advice, as always, is to shop around for the best number. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Rams around 60/40 in ATS contests and around 90/10 in SU pools).
Jaguars at Texans (-6)
This line has come down from Texans -6.5, which isn’t surprising as most people see the Texans as being in disarray after GM/coach Bill O’Brien was fired. However, I’m not biting on this public dog. We often see teams with coaching changes have at least a short-term spark as players step up for the new coaching staff and their own jobs. Besides, this a big step down in class after the Texans had to face the Chiefs, Ravens, Steelers and Vikings to start the season. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Texans around 75/25 in ATS contests and around 90/10 in SU pools).
Bills at Titans (Off)
This game was also off the betting boards Tuesday due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation in the Tennessee organization. The Bills are 4-0 but have benefited from a soft early schedule. Their toughest win was 35-32 over the Rams. The Titans are on the level of the Rams, so this should also come down to the final gun, and most power ratings project this to be around pick-’em. I would lean toward betting whomever the oddsmakers have getting points, and especially teasing the dog over a touchdown. Best Bet: Pass, or tease dog to + 7 or better (pool play: pretty much 50/50 in all SU and ATS contests with slight preference for Titans, but clearly not a strong opinion).
Cardinals (-7) at Jets
The Cardinals come in off back-to-back losses to the Lions and Panthers, but that still doesn’t give me incentive to back the winless Jets. The Cardinals should get back on track against the Jets, who lack the offensive weapons to keep up (and might be without QB Sam Darnold). As alluded to earlier, this will be among the most popular teasers in Week 5. Best Bet: Pass, except teasing Cards down to -1 (pool play: Cardinals 67/33 in ATS contests and at least 90/10 in SU pools).
Eagles at Steelers (-7)
The undefeated Steelers come in off an unplanned and unwanted bye week due to the COVID-19 outbreak on the Titans. They’ll be a popular public play in sides, parlays and teasers, but I like the Eagles, who finally put together a complete game in upsetting the 49ers on Sunday night and are actually in first in the NFC Least at 1-2-1. This is a much easier travel week, and the Eagles should be able to keep within one score if not pull another upset. Best Bet: Eagles + 7 (pool play: Eagles 67/33 in ATS contests — especially if offered + 7.5 in some contests — but Steelers still around 75/25 in SU pools).
Bengals at Ravens (-13.5)
You’ve probably seen the stat that the Seahawks and Packers and are the only 4-0 ATS teams, but the Bengals are right behind at 3-0-1 ATS after pushing in a three-point loss to the Chargers in their opener and then covering in a loss to the Browns, covering in an SU tie vs. the Eagles and then beating the Jaguars. Joe Burrow has justified his hype as the No. 1 draft pick, having made them competitive beyond what anyone expected. The Ravens are playing at a high level, but if Washington can stay within 14 points, the Bengals have a great chance to stay within 10. Best Bet: Bengals + 13.5 (pool play: Bengals 75/25 in ATS contests, but Ravens still around 80/20 in SU pools).
Dolphins at 49ers (-8)
This was off the board at most books Tuesday as oddsmakers awaited news on whether Jimmy Garoppolo would be able to return for San Francisco this week. But William Hill and Station Casinos had Dolphins + 8 available, so I went ahead and bet that and will rebet if we get + 8.5 or better later in the week. The Dolphins have been competitive most of the early season as Ryan Fitzpartick continues to work his magic, and the 49ers certainly came back to Earth in their loss to the Eagles. San Fran should have enough to win this game no matter who starts at QB, but the Dolphins should be able to cover. Best Bet: Dolphins + 8 (pool play: Dolphins around 75/25 in ATS contests as long as getting + 7.5, but 49ers still 70/30 in SU pools).
Giants at Cowboys (-9.5)
In the past, I likely wouldn’t have been able to resist getting more than a touchdown in this rivalry. But the Cowboys are probably ready to bust out against the Giants’ sieve of a defense. And even though the Giants stuck around and covered at the Rams, I don’t expect them to be able to stay as close to the Cowboys. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Cowboys 60/40 in ATS contests and at least 90/10 in SU pools).
Colts (-2.5) at Browns
This is an intriguing matchup between 3-1 teams. The Colts have the league’s No. 1 defense, but that’s aided by facing the Jaguars, Vikings, Jets and Bears. We’ll see if they still rank No. 1 after facing the Browns, who showed a balanced attack in beating the Cowboys 49-38. With the Colts’ step up in class, I’ll take the Browns with the short points as I expect them to win outright. Best Bet: Browns + 2.5 (pool play: Browns around 75/25 in ATS contests and 67/33 in SU pools).
Vikings at Seahawks (-7)
The Vikings finally got off the schneid with their Week 4 win over the Texans. But that’s not saying much, and this number seems a little short, even with Seattle’s home-field advantage not being what it used to be. Still, the lean is to the Vikings getting the touchdown. Though they are 4-0 SU and ATS, the Seahawks have allowed three of their four opponents to stay within one score. Regardless, I’m including the Seahawks in my teaser portfolio, so I think there’s a great chance at hitting a middle if the Vikings can stay within a field goal. Best Bet: Vikings + 7, but also Seahawks teased down to -1 (pool play: Vikings 67/33 in ATS contest, especially if getting + 7.5, but Seahawks still around 75/25 in SU pools).
Chargers at Saints (-7.5)
The Chargers cashed for us at + 7.5 in their 38-31 loss to the Buccaneers, though they let us down in contests at + 6.5. They led the Bucs 24-7 before an untimely fumble at the end of the first half set up Tom Brady, and he did the rest. Still, rookie QB Justin Herbert has shown a lot of upside, and I give him a great shot in his first meeting with Drew Brees. The Saints have had an up-and-down start, and I could see this as another shootout coming down to the wire in which getting more than a TD can come in handy. Best Bet: Chargers + 7.5 (pool play: Chargers 75/25 in ATS contests, but Saints still around 67/33 in SU pools).