We had another exciting weekend in the Tuley’s Takes home office, especially with college and pro football.
However, it was a little disappointing because as much as we’ve been riding the dog train the past few weeks, our top NFL plays posted here went just 3-3 ATS (winners on Lions, Panthers and 49ers, but losers on Falcons, Jets and Seahawks) and we went either 2-3 or 3-2 in our contest plays in Circa Sports Million and the SuperContest. We also went 3-3 ATS on the VSiN CFB Best Bets page, though the three winners did pull outright upsets.
In addition, we lost a little on our teaser portfolio in Week 10 as we lost our early teasers using the Ravens on “Thursday Night Football” and then our preferred teaser plays on Sunday went 2-2 with the Vikings and Eagles coming through while the Browns and Raiders didn’t come close. Going .500 on teaser plays isn’t good enough as you’re laying at least -120 (and hopefully not more).
Still, it’s been a good run lately, so we’ll keep doing what we’re doing in looking for live dogs as we start to handicap Week 11. Per usual, I’ll give my recommendations from my dog-or-pass point of view but will also give my pool play strategy for those who have to pick every game in contests. (Note: my “takes” on college football and other sports appear in “Tuley’s Take Today,'' the daily version of this column, at VSiN.com. Also of note: we update our best bets during the course of the week depending on how the market is moving — and updated our bets with a 49ers/Under parlay in Monday’s column — so please check out those columns each morning.)
New England Patriots (-6.5) at Atlanta Falcons
There are a few books out there (Circa in Las Vegas, DraftKings elsewhere) that have gone to 7, but I’m listing 6.5 here to keep me from being tempted to take the Falcons after their absolutely pitiful showing in their 44-3 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday. Every fiber in my dog-betting being wants to take the Falcons as home underdogs as the advance line on this game last week was Patriots -4. The line sure looks inflated. The Patriots are playing better but are still not a great team; the Falcons still have weapons to keep them in this game (though all were duds at Jerry World). Now, I know I usually build my bankroll on ugly dogs like this, and we’ve seen an exceptionally high percentage of games that looked like mismatches on paper turn into crazy upsets the past three weeks. And I’ve done quite well with those, including the 49ers on Monday night, but I’ve also done well this season in avoiding the really dead dogs.
Pass (pool play: Patriots is all my rare SU & ATS contests that include “Thursday Night Football”).
Detroit Lions at Cleveland Browns (-10)
Speaking of ugly dogs ... here are the Lions, who are fresh off that ugly 16-16 tie against the Steelers. But it wasn’t a loss for once, and the Lions did cover after closing as 6-point road underdogs due to Ben Roethlisberger being out. The advance line on this game last week was Browns -10, and most books reposted it at the same number, though some oddsmakers lowered it to 9.5 after the Lions’ tie and the Browns’ 45-7 loss to the Patriots. I actually think it should have been lowered even more as the Browns had an even worse performance. The Lions are 5-4 ATS despite their 0-8-1 record and have been competitive in most games. They should have a few wins, most notably against the Browns’ AFC North division mates in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Hopefully the Lions aren’t due for another down week (note: they’ve alternated ATS wins and losses in all nine games and are “due” for a loss), but I’ll take that chance.
Lions + 10 (pool play: Lions 67/33 in ATS contests — higher at 10.5, lower at 9.5 — but Browns still 70/30 in SU pools).
San Francisco 49ers (-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Here’s another tempting home underdog as the Jaguars have actually covered their last two games, including their shocking 9-6 upset of the high-flying Bills in Week 9. The 49ers, with Kyle Shanahan’s dedication to the running game — which we were grateful to see on Monday night — is closer in style to what the Jaguars faced in Week 10 with the Colts when they fell behind 17-0. They ended up rallying to cover as 10.5-point dogs in a 23-17 loss, but they really had only one TD drive as their first score was a 66-yard TD run by Jamal Agnew. The 49ers never let the Rams get back in the game on Monday night, and I expect the same in this one with San Francisco rolling to a comfortable victory (for those looking for my weekly “tempting favorite,” this is it).
Pass (pool play: 49ers 60/40 in ATS contests as long as it stays below a TD, and at least 90/10 in SU pools).
Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills (-7)
The Bills bounced back from their Week 9 loss to the Jaguars by routing the Jets 45-17 in Week 10, so this line has been boosted up to a full touchdown after being 6.5 on the advance line last week. However, I think it should be closer to a field goal as the Colts are 5-2 SU and ATS since their 0-3 start. The Colts — basically the same team with Carson Wentz in place of Philip Rivers — covered in a 27-24 loss to the Bills in the playoffs and have the balanced offense to match the Bills score for score, especially as the defense should put up more of a fight than the Jets did last week.
Colts + 7 (pool play: Colts 67/33 in ATS contests, but Bills 60/40 in SU pools).
Miami Dolphins (-3 -120) at New York Jets
The Jets have come through as underdogs a few times this season (upsetting the Titans and Bengals), but their resume is still poor and it’s time for the Mike White era to mercifully come to an end. And even though Tua Tagovailoa’s performance in the upset of the Ravens gives Miami hope for the future (as tenuous as that may be), the Dolphins have been nearly as inconsistent as the Jets. With all that in mind, I still think this line is too short to consider the Jets as a home dog.
Pass (pool play: Dolphins 60/40 in ATS contests — higher at 2.5, lower at 3.5) — and closer to 75/25 in SU pools.
Washington Football Team at Carolina Panthers (-3.5)
This is an interesting case study in NFL linemaking. The advance line was Panthers -2 last week. In the meantime, Cam Newton returned to Carolina and then combined with P.J. Walker to upset the Cardinals 34-10 as Christian McCaffrey did his thing and the defense looked like it did early in the season (albeit against Colt McCoy). Washington was arguably more impressive in a 29-19 upset of the Buccaneers as its defense looked more like it did last season despite losing Chase Young to injury. Yet, after all that (and the announcement that Newton would start this Sunday), the line is now up to Panthers -3.5. I’m not buying it. In fact, I’m buying the other side with Washington. Taylor Heinicke has been serviceable and now doesn’t have to look over his shoulder as Ryan Fitzpatrick has been declared out for the season. And if Ron Rivera could coach up the defense to shut down Tom Brady and Co., I’m assuming he’ll know how to contain Newton, his former protege.
Washington + 3.5 (pool play: Washington 67/33 in ATS contest and I’ll go out on a limb and take Washington 55/45 in SU pools).
Baltimore Ravens (-6.5) at Chicago Bears
The Bears are coming off their bye, though the Ravens have a mini-bye as they played last Thursday. The Ravens are actually in more need of a reset after getting shut down in a 22-10 loss at Miami. That should give hope for the underdog Bears, but this is another case where the oddsmakers are shorting us a little (they prefer the dogs to be covering as opposed to favorites in most cases, but they still don’t want to give too much value to the wise guys).
Pass (pool play: Ravens 55/45 in ATS contests — though I would flip to the Bears if offered 7.5 — and 80/20 in SU pools).
New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles (-1.5)
I’m sure some readers were expecting me to launch into my teaser portfolio with the Ravens or possibly earlier with the 49ers or Bills, but this is where I’m choosing to start our 6-point advantage teasers (aka Wong teaser) by moving the Saints from + 1.5 through the key numbers of 3 and 7 to + 7.5. Both teams are playing well lately, and I’ve actually been impressed more by these teams in losses: the Eagles vs. the Chargers and the Saints vs. the Titans. Still, the line is too short for me to take the Saints + 1.5, but the teaser looks solid. Use in combination with the later slate of games that offer the same betting value on the Vikings (from + 2.5 to + 8.5 vs. the Packers), Raiders (from + 1 to + 7 vs. the Bengals), Seahawks (from + 2.5 to + 8.5 vs. the Cardinals) and Cowboys (from + 2.5 to + 8.5 at the Chiefs).
Saints in teasers (pool play: Saints 55/45 in ATS contests but Eagles 55/45 in SU pools).
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (-10.5)
The Titans struggled to put the Saints away on Sunday and failed to cover as 3-point favorites in their 23-21 victory, but I’m not ready to fade them against the lowly Texans. At least not yet. I might add the Texans as a play, so check my Tuley’s Takes Today columns at VSiN.com as we get closer to the weekend. The Texans are coming off their bye and are a better team with Tyrod Taylor, but it’s still going to be hard to pull the trigger, and I just have dogs that I like a whole lot better earlier in the week.
Pass (pool play: Texans 55/45 in ATS contests on principle as a double-digit dog, but Titans at least 90/10 in SU pools).
Green Bay Packers (-2.5) at Minnesota Vikings
Here’s another underdog that I’d love to jump on, but the oddsmakers have shaded the line too low for my liking. Seriously, after the Packers shut out the Seahawks 17-0 in Aaron Rodgers’ return, how could oddsmakers not make them favorites of at least a field goal here? I guess it’s because they do respect what the Vikings have done lately in their upset of the Chargers and even in their overtime loss to the Ravens. Still, I’ll just use the Vikings in teasers instead of them pretty much needing to win outright if taking the short number.
Pass, except Vikings in teasers (pool play: Vikings 55/45 in ATS contests, but Packers 67/33 in SU pools).
Cincinnati Bengals (-1) at Las Vegas Raiders
A few weeks ago, this looked like it could be a battle of division leaders. After both teams have lost two straight, we now have a game of probably even more importance as each tries to stay relevant in the wild-card race (and this could be a key tiebreaker). This line opened at pick-’em and — as is often the case — early money showed on the team coming off the bye, the Bengals. I really have this as a toss-up as either team can win with its best performance, but I certainly don’t feel I’m getting enough points (or in this case, point) to take the dog except in teasers.
Pass, except Raiders in teasers (pool play: Raiders in slightly more than 50/50 in all SU & ATS contests).
Arizona Cardinals (-2.5) at Seattle Seahawks
Here’s another line that’s just under a field goal as the oddsmakers try to make it tough on us (yes, I’m taking it personally!). But, seriously, there’s a lot of uncertainty in this matchup. Will Kyler Murray return to the Arizona starting lineup? Will Russell Wilson shake off the rust and return to his former self for Seattle? If you know the answers, you can wind up on the right side of the key number. For the time being, I’m just going to lock up some teasers.
Pass, except Seahawks in teasers (pool play: Seahawks 55/45 in ATS contests but Cardinals 55/45 in SU pools, though contingent on QB updates).
Dallas Cowboys at Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5)
Yep, here’s yet another short number. However, this time I’m willing to take it on the Cowboys, or more aptly against the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs have gotten back over .500 and into the playoff chase, but at this point I still have the Cowboys as the better team and believe they should be favored. Even though the Chiefs offense now looks capable of keeping up with the Cowboys, I still trust the KC defense a whole lot less, which should pave the way for the outright upset.
Cowboys + 2.5, plus in teasers (pool play: Cowboys 67/33 in ATS contests and calling for the upset at 60/40 in SU pools).
Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers (-6)
The Chargers have come back to earth and are in a battle in the AFC West. It’s tempting to take the Steelers — despite their embarrassing tie against the Lions — plus the points, but only if Ben Roethlisberger is able to return. We’re waiting to hear confirmation of that, but the fact this line went from Chargers -4.5 to -6 while I was writing this early Tuesday afternoon leads me to believe there’s even more doubt. Again, check out Tuley’s Takes Today later in the week for any updates.
Pass (pool play: Steelers 55/45 in ATS pools — contingent on Big Ben news — but Chargers around 67/33 in SU pools).
New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-11)
The advance line was actually Buccaneers -12.5 last week before they were upset 29-19 by Washington. Despite the downward adjustment, I’m still on the Giants as I have this line as closer to a touchdown. The Bucs (6-3 and just one game ahead of the Saints in the NFC South) aren’t as dominant as everyone expected them to be in defense of their title and they’re actually a woeful 3-6 ATS as they failed to cover in wins over the Cowboys, Patriots and Eagles in addition to their upset losses to the Rams, Saints and Washington. The Giants, while only 3-6, have been competitive in most games, including losing just 30-29 to Washington and covering in losses to the Saints and Chiefs. The Giants are also hoping to get running back Saquon Barkley back, which should provide a spark against a Tampa defense that is suddenly looking vulnerable after allowing 36 to the Saints and 29 to Washington. Gimme the points.
Giants + 11 (pool play: Giants 67/33 in ATS contests though Buccaneers still close to 90/10 in SU pools).