As we sit here in the Tuley’s Takes home office on Tuesday, Aug. 31, we can’t wait to turn the calendar to September and another day closer to the start of the real football season.
Yes, I’m fully aware college football had its Week 0 on Saturday (as I had the first upset winner of the season with Illinois + 7 vs. Nebraska), but this is the real opening weekend with a full holiday-weekend slate of games from Thursday through Monday, plus I’m actually attending Northern Arizona’s game against defending FCS champion Sam Houston State game in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Thursday night for one last escape from the Vegas summer heat.
There’s a lot of great college football content in this week’s Point Spread Weekly (and the VSiN College Football Betting Guide), so I’ll let the real CFB experts take center stage this week. You can still find my weekly picks on the VSiN CFB Consensus and VSiN CFB Best Bets page. Just remember that the consensus page usually includes the marquee games of the week where I have to make a pick. Basically, if I like an underdog, I’ll take it; however, if I’m unable to make a case for the dog, I’ll pick the favorite, even though I’m not betting it myself. My real CFB picks are on the VSiN Best Bets page and will often include games that are not among the marquee games (for instance, Penn State + 5.5 at Wisconsin is my only best bet this week that also appears on the consensus page).
Instead, since most of my focus this week is on signing up for my many football contests (all of the ones here in Vegas, plus plenty online) and fantasy drafts, the rest of this column will look at the advance lines that are available for NFL Weeks 2-18 (of course, we’ll go over Week 1 in next week’s issue) since we’re doing a lot of looking ahead with survivor contests and fantasy projections, etc.
I know there are many naysayers out there who don’t think it’s a good idea to make advance wagers like this because “no one knows what’s going to happen, yada, yada, yada,” but we truly believe you can put yourself in a great position on games by projecting how teams will fare during the season and winding up on the right side of key numbers. Hopefully many of you believe in this and have the Buccaneers -6.5 vs. the Cowboys (up to -8 at several sportsbooks), Jaguars -2.5 at Texans (up to -3), Lions + 7.5 vs. 49ers (holding steady at + 7.5) and Raiders + 5.5 vs. Ravens (down to + 4) that I gave out when the NFL schedule came out in May.
So, here we go!
Week 2: Bills -2.5 at Dolphins (DraftKings)
The Bills are among the top teams in the AFC, while the Dolphins aren’t there yet. Even with Miami at home, I feel this line should be at least -3 (and it is at the Westgate SuperBook in Vegas), so if you’re in one of the states where DraftKings is licensed, I’d advise grabbing the -2.5 now. If the Bills roll the Steelers in Week 1 or the Dolphins get blown out by the Patriots, this will surely go to -3 and perhaps -3.5 (at which point, the value could flip and we could bet back some on the Dolphins + 3.5 for a shot at a middle). Even if the Bills lose to the Steelers and/or the Dolphins beat the Pats, I don’t believe this line will drop, and even if it does we don’t lose much value.
Week 3: Colts + 3.5 at Titans (DraftKings)
Before this key early AFC South battle, the Colts open against the Seahawks and Rams while the Titans play the Cardinals and Seahawks. I guess there’s a chance the Titans could start 2-0 and the Colts 0-2, causing this line to go higher. However, I’m banking on these teams each being 1-1 and this line being more likely to move to the key number of 3 (note: Westgate already dealing Titans -3), so I think it’s better to grab the hook now.
Week 4: Bears -5.5 vs. Lions (Westgate SuperBook)
This might be a stretch, but I believe this line will be at least Bears -7 by kickoff. The Lions are very likely to be 0-3 after facing the 49ers, Packers and Ravens. If the Bears are 2-1 after facing the Rams, Bengals and Browns and Andy Dalton is still starting, then they’ll be favored by at least a touchdown. If they’re 0-3 or 1-2 and Justin Fields is given his first start, I believe the betting market will jump on the rookie against the Lions and still make them a TD favorite.
Week 5: Packers -6 at Bengals (DraftKings)
The Packers have a tough early schedule against the Saints, Lions, 49ers and Steelers, but they should still come out of it no worse than 2-2 and I would expect the betting market to be all over Aaron Rodgers “getting well” in this game. I believe only a Rodgers injury can keep this line from being at least -7.
Week 5: Broncos + 4.5 at Steelers (DraftKings)
These teams both have Over/ Under season win totals of 8.5 and I have them power-rated pretty close, certainly too close for the Steelers to be favored by 4.5 points even with home-field advantage. The Broncos could be 2-2 or even 3-1 by the time this game rolls around while the Steelers should be 2-2 at best. Either way, I suspect this line will be long gone by game day and we could be laying Steelers -3 for a nice shot at a middle.
Week 6: Bears + 4.5 vs. Packers (SuperBook)
I wrote about this in the VSiN NFL Betting Guide: with the way the schedules line up, these teams could both be 3-2 by the time of this key NFC North game. The Packers will undoubtedly still be favored, but I foresee it being a lot closer to 3-point road chalk.
Week 7: Falcons + 3.5 at Dolphins (SuperBook)
You might not be as high on the Falcons as I am, but they could be 3-2 or even 4-1 coming into this game off their bye. I’m expecting the Dolphins to be no better than 3-3, so there’s a good chance this line could be lower than a field goal (at which time I would advise betting back a little on the Dolphins for a middle). Worst-case scenario, I don’t see this line being any higher than it is now.
Week 9: Bills -6.5 at Jaguars (SuperBook)
If the Bills are among the top teams in the AFC and the Jaguars are still going through growing pains, I can’t see how this line isn’t over a touchdown even with the game in Jacksonville.
Week 12: Falcons PK at Jaguars (SuperBook)
The Falcons aren’t likely to be as good as the Bills, but they’re very likely to be favored on the road at the Jaguars by the time this game rolls around.
Week 12: Browns + 3.5 at Ravens (SuperBook)
Most people have these teams neck-and-neck in the AFC North, so I could see this Week 12 game closer to pick-’em. Even if the Ravens are ahead in the division, I still doubt we’ll be getting a better price with the Browns later.
Week 14: Titans -6.5 vs. Jaguars (SuperBook)
I don’t mean to be picking on the Jaguars, but this line has already been bet from -6 to -6.5 before any regular-season games have been played, so I’m pretty confident it’s heading to 7 or higher if the season goes as expected for these teams, so lock in the advantageous line now.