NFL Week 5 has been our favorite so far this season here in the Tuley’s Takes home office.
We were a solid 5-3 ATS in this column last week but 9-1 on the VSiN NFL Consensus page to improve to 31-18-1 overall with those picks, which include Over/Unders.
Sunday didn’t start so well as the Bengals (+ 13.5) were never competitive against the Ravens and the Eagles (+ 7.5) suffered a bitter defeat as they should have covered against the Steelers. (I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a Bad Beat, but it sure felt bad.) But it’s always great to end the weekend on a winning note, and we had the Dolphins (+ 8.5) and Browns (+ 2.5) in the afternoon games and the Vikings (+ 7) and Chargers (+ 7.5) on Sunday and Monday night, respectively.
The MLB League Championship Series didn’t start as well for yours truly. I posted a “Tuley’s Takes Extra!” on VSiN.com before the series started, so let’s update that after the first couple of games before getting to NFL Week 6.
TULEY’S TAKES ON MLB PLAYOFFS
I bet the Astros + 160 to win the ALCS over the Rays and lost on them Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. I really thought they would be able to score more than the five combined runs they managed in the first three games. I’ll cut my losses and pass on the rest of the series.
I also pegged the NLCS wrong, as the Braves are off to a 2-0 lead. I didn’t bet the Dodgers, so I’m not losing money, but I’m kicking myself for not backing the Braves. However, I just bet the Dodgers + 195 to win the series, so I need them to win four of the next five.
The Under started 4-1 through Tuesday’s LCS games, but as we get deeper into the pitching staffs with no travel days, I think I’ll start looking at some Overs.
TULEY’S TAKES ON NFL WEEK 6
OK, let’s get to this week’s card. Lines are the consensus of Vegas books as of Tuesday afternoon and listed in betting rotation order. (Broncos-Patriots is a 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT Sunday kickoff; the Rams-49ers game is the Sunday nighter at 8:20 p.m. ET/5:20 p.m. PT, even though it’s higher in the rotation; and the Chiefs-Bills game is the first of the “MNF” doubleheader at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT.) 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 in contests in which we have to make a pick on every game with my degree of confidence for both SU and ATS pools.
Bears at Panthers (-2.5)
Both teams have exceeded expectations at 4-1 and 3-2, respectively, with Nick Foles taking over for Mitchell Trubisky in Chicago and Teddy Bridgewater replacing Cam Newton in Carolina (and winning three straight without star RB Christian McCaffrey). Both teams average in the low 20s in points scored and points allowed, so this looks like a pick-’em contest. While I lean to the Bears plus any points, I’m not planning to bet them ATS. Instead, I’ll use them to kick off some teasers like I did last week with the Panthers vs. the Falcons along with other games that give us the key numbers of 3 and 7. These include the Ravens teased down to -1.5, the Colts teased down to -1.5, the Dolphins teased down to -2, the Patriots teased down to -2.5 and the Cowboys teased up to + 8.5 (mix and match based on your own handicapping). Best Bet: Pass, except for teasing the Bears up over a TD (pool play: Bears around 55/45 in all SU and ATS contests).
Lions (-3.5) at Jaguars
These teams are at 1-3 and 1-4, respectively, or right about where they were expected to be. The Jaguars upset the Colts in Week 1 and played the Titans tough in Week 3 but haven’t really been competitive the other three weeks. Meanwhile, the Lions upset the Cardinals in Week 2 and have given away early leads vs. the Bears, Packers and Saints, so they look like the better team. But I still don’t think they should be laying more than a field goal on the road against anyone. The Lions’ defense, allowing 31.8 points per game, should offer no resistance to Gardner Minshew, who should keep the Jaguars in the game the whole way if not pull the minor upset. Best Bet: Jaguars + 3.5 (pool play: Jaguars 75/25 in ATS contests as long as getting + 3.5, and even 60/40 in SU contests).
Falcons at Vikings (-3.5)
Here’s the true matchup of underachievers at 0-5 and 1-4, respectively. Atlanta fired coach Dan Quinn, and teams often step up to play well for interim coaches — and their own jobs. Remember, we resisted going against Houston last week for this same reason, so I’m betting the Falcons but haven’t included it on the VSiN NFL Best Bets page. I know it’s early to go with my tendency to go with Overs when teams are playing out the string, but I doubt either team will step up. The better bet is probably that Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins get into a shootout. Best Bet: Over 55 as well as Falcons + 3.5 (pool play: Falcons around 60/40 in ATS contests, but Vikings around 55/45 in SU pools).
Texans at Titans (Off)
This game was off the betting boards Tuesday night due to the Titans’ game vs. the Bills, but the Westgate SuperBook’s advance line from last week was Titans -5.5. It could go lower with the Texans winning their first game of the season. Then again, it could go higher after the undefeated Titans’ 42-16 rout of the previously undefeated Bills. My lean is to the Texans to keep this divisional battle close, especially if the oddsmakers and bettors raise this to + 6.5 or + 7. Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Texans 60/40 in ATS contests if getting + 6.5 or better — less at lower numbers — though Titans around 75/25 in SU pools).
Washington at Giants (-3)
Washington has the only win between these teams with its Week 1 upset of the Eagles, but the Giants have been the far more competitive team overall at 3-2 ATS, covering in their losses to the Bears, Rams and Cowboys. For that reason, I can’t back Washington, which should get Kyle Allen back at QB (and didn’t we all cringe every time Alex Smith was sacked Sunday). Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Giants 67/33 in ATS contests, though will flip to Washington if a contest offers + 3.5, and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Browns at Steelers (-3.5)
We finally get back to overachieving teams as these two battle for the AFC North lead — or at least the right to battle with the Ravens. The Steelers are 4-0, but they didn’t cover in their win over the Broncos in Week 2 and didn’t deserve to cover Sunday against the Eagles. So while the Steelers have the edge on defense, the Browns’ balanced attack is good enough to keep up with Big Ben & Co. This should be another close game in which I love that I have + 3 and the hook. Best Bet: Browns + 3.5 (pool play: Browns 75/25 in ATS contests, though Steelers still around 55/45 in SU pools).
Ravens (-7.5) at Eagles
The Ravens have pretty much cruised in their four wins, losing only to the Chiefs, so that makes them scary to fade. However, the Eagles came through for us in Week 4 with their upset of the 49ers and should have covered against the Steelers. So they’re better than their 1-3-1 record and should be competitive enough to stay within a TD. Best Bet: Eagles + 7.5 (pool play: Eagles around 80/20 in ATS contests, but Ravens around 67/33 in SU pools).
Bengals at Colts (-7.5)
I’ve been on the Bengals several times this season and faded the Colts with success last week, but I can’t pull the trigger on Cincy this week. I was watching the seven early games Sunday at the Westgate, and whenever I glanced at the Bengals-Ravens game, the Bengals never seemed to have the ball. The first play I saw, Joe Burrow was getting sacked. When I later watched on NFL GamePass, it wasn’t as promising with several three-and-outs and no points until a garbage-time field goal to avoid the shutout. I’ll be on the Bengals later this season, but not against a team with a defense as good as the Ravens (or Colts). Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Colts 60/40 in ATS contests and at least 90/10 in SU pools).
Packers (-1.5) at Buccaneers
Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady. It’s tempting to take Brady plus any points. But the Packers are playing so well — and I’ve felt all along that the Bucs were overrated — that I’m not going to bet a side, though I’ll include the Bucs + 8.5 in some teasers. I also picked Over 54 on the VSiN NFL Consensus page, so I’ll bet that as well. Both offenses are better than the defenses, and I expect Rodgers and Brady to match each other score for score. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Buccaneers in slightly more SU and ATS contests, around 55/45).
Rams (-3.5) at 49ers
Both teams are chasing the Seahawks in the NFC West, and the 49ers are coming off an embarrassing 43-17 home loss to the Dolphins as eight-point favorites. The 49ers’ only two wins are over the lowly Jets and Giants, plus the Rams blew out the Eagles in Week 2 and then the Eagles beat the 49ers in Week 4. But I still don’t think the Rams should be favored by more than a field goal. The 49ers might be suffering the Super Bowl losers’ hangover, but they still have enough talent and pride to make a game of this. Best Bet: 49ers + 3.5 (pool play: 49ers 67/33 in ATS contests and also 55/45 in SU pools despite being the underdog).
Jets at Dolphins (-8)
A division underdog getting more than a touchdown is usually a buy sign for me, especially against an overachieving team like the Dolphins that shouldn’t be favored by this much, but I still can’t talk myself into betting actual money on the Jets. The Dolphins will be a very popular teaser play, and I’m on board with that. Best Bet: Pass, except teasing Dolphins (pool play: Dolphins in slightly more ATS contests, around 55/45, and at least 80/20 in SU pools).
Broncos at Patriots (-8.5)
This game had been scheduled for last Sunday, then was moved to Monday and now is set for Sunday in Week 6. The Patriots will be another popular teaser play down to -2.5, but I also like Denver plus the points even though I know we’re not supposed to go against Bill Belichick off a loss. The last time we saw the Broncos, Brett Rypien was ripping up the Jets in a 37-28 win nearly two weeks ago in Week 4’s Thursday night game. Rypien would benefit from the added prep time, though it appears starter Drew Lock might be back as well as TE Noah Fant and CB A.J. Bouye. Best Bet: Broncos + 8.5 (pool play: Broncos 67/33 in ATS contests, but Patriots around 67/33 in SU pools).
Cardinals (-2.5) at Cowboys
The scheduled Monday nighter lost some of its appeal with Dak Prescott’s gruesome injury, but who are we kidding — we’re all going to be watching, right? The advance line last week was Cowboys -3, but now the Cardinals are favored. I would be leery of betting favorites like that, though it’s not enough of an adjustment to get me on the Cowboys ATS even though I have no problem backing Andy Dalton. But I will use the Cowboys teased up to + 8.5 as mentioned earlier. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Cowboys 55/45 in ATS contests and close to that in SU contests as well).
Chiefs (-3 -120) at Bills
This game was moved from Thursday to the opening game of a “Monday Night Football” doubleheader. The game was off the betting boards at most books Tuesday as the Bills played the Titans, but the Westgate did have the Chiefs -3 with -120 vig attached. I’m not thrilled about fading the Chiefs off their loss to the Raiders, though I might be tempted at + 3.5, which we might get after the Bills were blown out by the Titans. Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Bills around 55/45 in ATS contests — but higher at + 3.5 — though Chiefs around 67/33 in SU pools).