It seems like we’re writing the same intro every week, but we were pleased again over the weekend in the Tuley’s Takes home office as underdogs kept barking in the NFL.
Dogs were 9-5 ATS in Week 13 heading into Tuesday night’s Cowboys-Ravens game and 106-79-2 ATS (57.3%) on the season with four games closing pick-’em. We certainly hope our readers have been following along with our dog-or-pass approach. Maybe you’re finding your own dogs (as I don’t always find all the live ones) or at least passing on overpriced favorites.
I went just 4-3 with our ATS Best Bets in this column last week (and 0-2 with two Under plays) to stand at 50-43 (53.8%). Fortunately I’m doing better at 70-55-3 (56%) on the VSiN NFL Consensus page and with some of our contest entries as I went 3-2 in most of those last week. Still, it’s a letdown to not go 4-1 or 5-0 when some many dogs are coming through. Regular readers also know all of the above doesn’t even include how well our teaser portfolios have been paying dividends nearly every week this season. Those plays went 4-2 in Week 12, winning all the games in Sunday’s early session with the Lions + 9, Texans + 9, Raiders -2 and Falcons + 9, though losing with any tied to Cardinals + 9 or 49ers + 8.5. All in all, we’re thrilled with how the NFL season has been treating us.
Let’s get to NFL Week 14 with a full slate of 16 games as the bye weeks are done. Per usual, I’ll give my takes on each game. Even if I don’t have an opinion that I think warrants a bet, I’ll include my “pool plays,” in which I give my level of confidence for SU and ATS contests, especially for those who have to pick every game.
Patriots at Rams (-5)
The Patriots have mostly underachieved in the post-Tom Brady era, but then they go out and rout the Chargers 45-0 and they’re suddenly 6-6 and in the playoff hunt. The Rams are the better overall team and rightly favored, but I don’t think they should be getting much in the way of home-field advantage. They lost at home to the 49ers two weeks ago and also failed to cover in a home win against the Giants earlier this season. So the Patriots are the play for me at anything more than a field goal. Best Bet: Patriots + 5 (pool play: Patriots in all my rare SU and ATS contests that use Thursday games).
Packers (-8) at Lions
This game has been moved to 4:25 p.m. ET, but it’s at the top of the Sunday betting rotation, so we’ll keep it here. I’ve admittedly waffled on this game as the Lions have been playing much better since Matt Patricia was fired and I love getting more than a touchdown with home underdogs. On the other hand, I am troubled that the Lions trailed the Bears by 11 points in the fourth quarter Sunday. Plus the Packers routed the Lions 42-21 in their first meeting this season. But I keep coming back to the Lions jumping out to the early lead in that first meeting and hoping they show more pride and stick around the whole game. One other prediction: Adrian Peterson rushes for more than 100 yards to help the Lions keep it close. Best Bet: Lions + 8 (pool play: Lions 67/33 in ATS contests, but Packers still 75/25 in SU pools).
Titans (-7.5) at Jaguars
The Jaguars have covered for me four of the last five weeks, and they covered in a 33-30 road loss at Tennessee all the way back in Week 2, but I’m not taking them in this spot. The Titans let their one-game lead in the AFC South slip away with their loss to the Browns, so I’m expecting them to get back on track here, though I’ll just use them teased down to -1.5. This is a good spot to list our advantage teasers where we have the key numbers of 3 and 7 working for us: Giants teased up to + 8.5 vs. the Cardinals, Bears teased up to + 7.5 vs. the Texans, Raiders teased up to + 8.5 or + 9 vs. the Colts, Chiefs teased down to -1.5 at the Dolphins, Chargers teased up to + 8.5 vs. the Falcons, Saints teased down to -1 at the Eagles, Packers teased down to -2 at the Lions (though I still like the Lions + 8 for a possible middle) and Steelers teased up to + 8.5 at the Bills. I prefer to stick to 6-point two- or three-team teasers, so mix and match depending on your own handicapping. And with seven early Sunday games and six in the late-afternoon slot, there’s plenty of opportunities to group these by starting times. Best Bet: Pass, except for Titans in teasers (pool play: Titans 55/45 in ATS contests and all SU pools).
Cowboys (-3.5) at Bengals
This game was off the board at a lot of books while this was being written Tuesday afternoon. Some books had Cowboys -3.5, but that could change depending on what happened in their Tuesday night game against the Ravens. We’ll assume the line will be right around there and we will be looking to play the Bengals as home dogs. The Bengals let us down at + 11.5 in their 19-7 loss to the Dolphins, but we’re counting on them to be competitive again and feel confident the offense can do more against the Cowboys defense than they did against Miami’s. Best Bet: Bengals + 3.5 or thereabouts (pool play: Bengals 67/33 in ATS contests, though lower if line ends up only + 2.5, and Cowboys 55/45 in SU pools).
Cardinals (-2.5) at Giants
These teams are heading in opposite directions. The Giants have won four straight to lead the NFC East at 5-7, tied with Washington, but holding the tiebreaker. The Cardinals have lost three straight since the Hail Murray to beat the Bills. Still, this line is a little too short to pick the Giants ATS, but they are a prime candidate teased up to + 8.5. Best Bet: Pass, except for Giants in teasers (pool play: Giants 55/45 in ATS contests though flip to Cardinals 60/40 in SU pools).
Texans (-1.5) at Bears
Speaking of teams on the skids, the Bears have dropped six straight since a 5-1 start. The Texans have been installed as short road favorites here, but I’m not so sure that’s right either. They’ve certainly been playing better since Bill O’Brien was fired, but I’d have to say the Bears are the right side here, though only willing to tease them up to + 7.5. Best Bet: Pass, except for Bears in teasers (pool play: Bears 55/45 in ATS contests, but we’ll side slightly with the Texans 55/45 in SU pools).
Broncos at Panthers (OFF or -3.5)
The advance line for this was Panthers -3.5 and they are expected to have stud running back Christian McCaffrey back in the starting lineup, but the game was taken off the board after a COVID-19 outbreak in Carolina. We’ll have to see how it shakes out, but all things being equal, I’ll be on the Broncos plus any points. We all saw again how competitive the Broncos can be with a real quarterback — or at least with Drew Lock — as they went toe-to-toe with the Chiefs on Sunday night. Best Bet: Broncos + 3.5 if available (pool play: Broncos 67/33 in ATS contests — higher if getting + 4 or + 4.5 — and probably taking a shot with Broncos 55/45 in SU pools as well).
Vikings at Buccaneers (-6.5)
The Vikings barely escaped against the Jaguars on Sunday, but they’re certainly playing well enough at 6-6 SU and 6-6 ATS, including 5-1 SU and 3-3 ATS in their last six games, to keep up with the Buccaneers, who are 7-5 SU and 6-6 ATS, including 2-3 SU and ATS in the last five. If we averaged out the points scored/points allowed from all their games, this comes to about Buccaneers 28, Vikings 25, so I see value with the Vikings at anything over a field goal. Best Bet: Vikings + 6.5 (pool play: Vikings 75/25 in ATS contests, though Bucs 60/40 in SU pools).
Chiefs (-7.5) at Dolphins
As Chris Andrews said on “A Numbers Game” with Gill Alexander on Monday morning, the books never have to go begging for Chiefs money, but the Dolphins are going to get their share of action as public dogs this week with this line so high. I haven’t been shy about fading the Chiefs this year as they tend to allow lesser teams to stick around. But I don’t expect them to take the Dolphins lightly, and I don’t think the Dolphins will be able to keep up. I would be more willing to take the points if Ryan Fitzpatrick were still starting at quarterback. Best Bet: Pass, except for Chiefs in teasers (pool play: Dolphins 55/45 in ATS contest, though only if getting + 7.5, but Chiefs at least 80/20 in SU pools).
Colts (-2.5/3) at Raiders
The Raiders are the poster child for how teams can look great one week and terrible the next. They beat the Chiefs and almost beat them a second time, but they also got blown out by the Falcons and barely beat the winless Jets. The Colts aren’t quite as enigmatic, but I still think the Raiders’ overall body of work puts them right in this game. This line has been wavering between 2.5 and 3 points, with -120 juice mostly added to the side you want to take, so I’m willing to take the Raiders at + 3 but would pass at + 2.5. I will use the Raiders in teasers as I don’t expect a blowout win by the Colts. Best Bet: Raiders at + 3, plus Raiders in teasers (pool play: Raiders 65/35 in ATS contests though Colts 60/40 in SU pools).
Jets at Seahawks (-13.5)
Here’s another game where I know everyone expects me to be all over the dog, but I’ve wavered and didn’t include it on the VSiN NFL Best Bets page. But who am I kidding? NFL double-digit underdogs are now 11-7-1 ATS (61.1%) on the season after going 3-1 ATS in Week 13 with the Jaguars, Giants — against the Seahawks — and Broncos cashing and the Bengals the only big dog to fail. There’s still parity in today’s NFL, even for the winless Jets, who keep being competitive as they’re covered three of their last four games and four of their last five. Besides, as alluded to above, the Seahawks lost outright despite being huge favorites against the Giants and have failed to cover four of their last five. Best Bet: Jets + 13.5 (pool play: Jets in all ATS contests, though Seahawks 80/20 in SU pools).
Falcons (-2.5) at Chargers
I’m willing to back either of these teams as underdogs — against other teams, but I’ll pass on taking the points with the Chargers in this matchup as the Falcons have been playing better lately. Still, let’s include the Chargers in our teaser portfolio. I mean, Anthony Lynn is certainly capable of costing them another straight-up win, but I can’t see him making enough mistakes to have the Falcons win by more than a touchdown. This is also a good time to bring up my preference for betting Overs in late-season games between also-rans as we don’t expect the defenses to offer much resistance. Best Bet: Over 49.5, plus Chargers in teasers (pool play: Chargers 55/45 in ATS contests while Falcons 60/40 in SU pools).
Saints (-7) at Eagles
The Eagles nearly covered for us against the Packers on Sunday, turned back when Aaron Jones ran for a 77-yard touchdown instead of running out the clock. My first thought was take them plus the big points again. However, I can’t pull the trigger this time. Rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts has been named to start over Carson Wentz. That might be the right move overall for the Eagles, but I’m not sure it’s the best move this week with the Saints holding quarterbacks to a 21 QBR over the last four games. I think it’s best to just tease the Saints down to -1 and count on them to win their 10th straight. Best Bet: Pass, except for Saints in teasers (pool play: Eagles 55/45 in ATS contests on principle, but Saints 80/20 in SU pools).
Washington at 49ers (-3.5)
I must admit that my opinion has changed on the Washington Football Team more than any other this season. Washington is just 5-7 but tied with the Giants for first in the NFC East. The defense is still carrying the team, but Alex Smith and the offense are doing more than I expected. I don’t think the 49ers should be favored by more than a field goal here, but I’ll take it. Best Bet: Washington + 3.5 (pool play: Washington 75/25 in ATS contests and I’ll take a stand with some of my entries and go Washington 55/45 in SU pools).
Steelers at Bills (-2.5)
The advance line on this game was Steelers -2, but after they lost for the first time this season on Monday and then the Bills beat the 49ers on “Monday Night Football,” it flipped to the Bills being favored around -1.5. The lines had gone to a pretty solid Bills -2.5 as of Tuesday night. The Steelers probably will be a popular dog from here, but teams in all sports often have a letdown after having a long winning streak snapped, so I can’t pull the trigger on the Steelers + 2.5, However, I think it’s safe enough to tease them up to + 8.5. Best Bet: Pass, except Steelers in teasers (pool play: Bills 55/45 in ATS contests and about 67/33 in SU pools).
Ravens at Browns (pick-’em)
The advance line was pick-’em at some books and Ravens -1 at others before being taken off the board Tuesday night with the Ravens hosting the Cowboys in the Week 13 finale. My initial thought is I’d love to get the Browns as home underdogs as they’re certainly playing better than they did in their 38-6 loss to the Ravens in Week 1. Please check back this weekend in our VSiN Best Bets column on the website at VSiN.com and in the VSiN newsletter in case Tuesday night’s result or other developments change our outlook. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: leaning toward taking Browns in all my SU and ATS contests, though that’s subject to change).