We’re still giddy over NFL Week 1 here in the Tuley’s Takes home office. Of course, that should come as no surprise to anyone since underdogs went 12-4 ATS with nine outright upsets.
As I wrote in my new daily “Tuley’s Takes Today” column at VSiN.com (be sure to check it out and pass it on to your friends and family, as it’s available with no subscription required, though obviously we’re hoping everyone who wants all-day, comprehensive coverage of all things sports betting will join Team VSiN), I coulda, shoulda had an even better weekend than I did as I landed on two of the losing dogs, Colts and Bears, and didn’t bet all the other live dogs. However, I did two weekly pools, clinching one before the Sunday night game even kicked off with so many upsets.
I went 3-2 on the VSiN NFL Best Bets page and in my major contests and only 3-3 ATS in this column. However, I had to take a loss on the Lions + 7.5 in their 41-33 loss to the 49ers even though I was able to re-bet at + 8.5 and + 9 over the weekend. That’s bittersweet consolation, but I’m happy to have the cash.
We have several obstacles heading into Week 2. I know I won’t be the only one to mention this at VSiN this week, but we have to avoid overreacting to what we saw in Week 1. In fact, VSiN colleagues Matt Youmans and Jonathan Von Tobel were the first to make this point on the “Opening Lines” show Sunday night. The other obstacle is overconfidence, but I’ve been at this long enough to know this game will humble you before you have a chance to withdraw your winnings, so we’ll just keep doing what we do.
With that in mind, let’s go over the NFL Week 2 card. Since I’m known as a dog-or-pass bettor, I’ll list whether I have a Best Bet or if I’m passing. Either way, I’ll also post my “pool play” to give my level of confidence for those in all kinds of contests, some in which you have to make a pick in every game. In games that I didn’t have a Best Bet in Week 1, I went 6-3-1 (push was on Panthers -5, so that would be 7-3 in contests with a lower spread) and that’s what helped me win my pools. Hopefully it helped others fare well in theirs as we’re all in this together.
New York Giants at Washington Football Team (-3)
Let me first say I’m a longtime fan of FitzMagic, but I think Washington has a better offense with Taylor Heinicke taking over while Ryan Fitzpatrick recovers from his hip injury. I know a team is never as bad as it looks in defeat, but the Giants are still pretty bad, and I believe the Football Team is the right side in the Thursday night Week 2 opener. Having said that, I wrote in Tuesday’s “Tuley’s Takes Today” that I already bet Washington -3 and the Giants + 3.5 in hopes of landing a side, when you win one bet and push the other while basically just risking the vig. I picked Washington on the VSiN NFL Best Bets page, but I can make up the rules here, so ... Best Bet: Washington -3 and Giants + 3.5 (pool play: Washington about 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 70/30 in SU pools).
New Orleans Saints (-4) at Carolina Panthers
The Saints were my very best of Week 1, as I truly didn’t understand how they went from 3-point home favorites over the Packers to 3.5- or 4-point underdogs on a neutral field. Of course, even I didn’t see a 38-3 blowout coming. The advance line on this game was Saints -2.5 and has been bet up to -4, so now they’re the team being overrated. The Panthers showed good things in Sam Darnold’s debut and were in control before letting the Jets get close late. The bargain is now on the Panthers plus the inflated points. Best Bet: Panthers + 4 (pool play: Panthers 65/35 in ATS contests — higher if offered 4.5 but lower if lined at 3.5 — but Saints about 55/45 in SU pools).
Houston Texans at Cleveland Browns (-12.5)
I knew it was going to be a crazy day Sunday when the Texans and Bengals were off to big leads. The Texans had one of the most complete performances of Week 1 with their 37-21 victory, though it was against the Jaguars, so we’re not expecting the Houston bandwagon to fill up quite yet. The performance, coupled with the Browns’ spread-covering 33-29 loss to the Chiefs, has caused this line to dip slightly from + 13 to + 12.5. I often find it hard to pass up double-digit NFL underdogs. I didn’t include it in my five plays on the VSiN NFL Best Bets page, but I’m sure I’ll be taking the points whenever I’m sure it won’t go higher. Best Bet: Texans + 12.5 or higher (pool play: Texans 60/40 in ATS contests, but Browns still 80/20 in SU pools).
Cincinnati Bengals at Chicago Bears (-3 EVEN)
The advance line on this game was Bears -4. The Bengals beat the Vikings 27-24 in OT as 3-point home underdogs and now are getting the same number of points on the road. I know I said home-field advantage has been negligible so far, but I really wish I could get + 4 or even + 3.5 with the Bengals in this spot. It’s just not as strong a play at 3 with the added possibility. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Bengals in slightly more than 50% of ATS contests — higher if offered + 3.5, lower if it’s 2.5 — while Bears about 60/40 in SU pools).
Las Vegas Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5)
The Steelers upset the Bills, supposedly one of the top contenders in the AFC this season, but the Raiders put on an even bigger show by rallying to beat the Ravens 33-27 in OT on Monday night. I often think of the Ravens and Steelers as mirror images, but even though the Steelers have the better defense, I can see another shootout here. The Raiders almost made my cut on the VSiN NFL Best Bets page, but I know I’m still going to play them. It looks doubtful that the line will sneak back up to 6, and I’m also on the Over as I would put it closer to 50 or 51. Best Bets: Raiders + 5.5 and Over 47 (pool play: Raiders about 55/50 in ATS contests, but Steelers about 60/40 in SU pools).
Buffalo Bills (-3.5) at Miami Dolphins
The advance line on this game was Bills -2.5. In fact, in the Sept. 1 issue of Point Spread Weekly, I advised laying the favorite because I believed the line would steam to 3.5 if the Bills won their opener and/or the Dolphins lost. Well, neither happened, and the line has still gone through the key number of 3 to Bills -3.5, and now I’m on the Dolphins plus the hook. I’m sure the public will be all over the Bills to bounce back from their 23-16 loss to the Steelers, but the Dolphins can keep this close like they did last September in a 31-28 home loss. Hopefully it’s hot and humid for the visitors from Buffalo. Best Bet: Dolphins + 3.5 (pool play: Dolphins 67/33 in ATS contests, but Bills still slightly more than 50% in SU pools).
Los Angeles Rams (-4) at Indianapolis Colts
The Rams were 2.5-point favorites on the lookahead line last week before the Colts were beaten 28-16 by the Seahawks and the Rams ran away from the Bears 34-14. It’s now up to Rams -4. This would usually trigger a play for me on the underdog, but I haven’t been able to pull the trigger. Actually, I feel like I already have money on the Colts as I have them in divisional, conference and Super Bowl futures, so they really need to win this to get back to 1-1 and keep those tickets viable. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Colts in slightly more than 50% of ATS contests, but Rams close to 67/33 in SU pools).
San Francisco 49ers (-4) at Philadelphia Eagles
I know it was against the Falcons, but the Eagles’ 32-6 rout in the opener was a bit of a wake-up call. Are they that much better than we thought — or are the Falcons just that bad? I side more with the former and see the Eagles as live home dogs this week, so I grabbed some Eagles + 4 when it showed up at a few books Tuesday. The 49ers were blowing out the Lions before letting them back into the game (and the back-door cover against late numbers). Assuming the Eagles don’t get run over early — and the 49ers lost starting RB Raheem Mostert after just two carries Sunday — this should come down to a field goal, and I’ll be happy to have more than three points in my pocket. Best Bet: Eagles + 4 (pool play: Eagles 60/40 in ATS contests — higher at 4.5, but slightly lower if only offered + 3.5 — while 49ers still 60/40 in SU pools).
Denver Broncos (-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars
This is another of the seven home underdogs on this week’s card. Even though home-field advantage didn’t mean much in Week 1, I’ve landed on a few already (Dolphins and Eagles), but the oddsmakers aren’t giving me enough points to consider the Jaguars. If the Broncos could go into New York/New Jersey and run over the Giants, I’m not going to fade them with the Jaguars. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Broncos about 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 85/15 in SU pools).
New England Patriots (-5.5) at New York Jets
Yet another home dog — and yet another pass for yours truly. Zach Wilson wasn’t terrible, but the Jets were outplayed by the Panthers before getting into the game late. Meanwhile, the Patriots mostly outplayed the Dolphins and somehow lost. I’ve learned many things over the years: You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, you don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Bill Belichick off a loss. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Patriots 67/33 in ATS contests and closer to 90/10 in SU pools).
Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals (-4.5)
The Cardinals routed the Titans 38-13 while the Vikings lost to the Bengals in OT. The advance line on this game last week was Cardinals -1, and now it’s all the way up to 4.5 at most books. That looks like another classic overadjustment, so I almost have to take the Vikings plus the inflated points on principle. Once again, this dog didn’t make my five on the VSiN NFL Best Bets page, and hopefully that shows how selective I’m trying to be. I know dogs are unlikely to go 12-4 ATS again, but I know I’m playing it just the same. Best Bet: Vikings + 4.5 (pool play: Vikings 55/45 in ATS contests, but Cardinals 60/40 in SU pools).
Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-13)
The Falcons put on one of the ugliest performances of Week 1 with their 32-6 loss to the Eagles. Obviously, everyone is expecting they won’t be able to compete with the defending champions, and this line has gone from -8.5 on the advance line last week to -13 as of Tuesday afternoon. Again, this didn’t make the VSiN NFL Best Bets page, but I can’t resist that much of an inflated price. Besides, the Falcons were leading the Bucs by 17 at halftime of their first meeting in Week 15 before Tom Brady rallied to win 31-27 (kind of reminiscent of Super Bowl LI). Best Bet: Falcons + 13 (pool play: Falcons 60/40 in ATS contests, but Buccaneers still 80/20 in SU pools).
Tennessee Titans at Seattle Seahawks (-5.5)
Here’s another case of teams seemingly heading in opposite directions. The Titans looked like a shadow of their former selves in getting routed 38-13 by the Cardinals, while the Seahawks dominated the Colts 28-16. However, this line has gone only from Seahawks -4.5 to -5.5, so not enough to get me to jump on the dog. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Seahawks 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Chargers (-3)
As we’ve discussed throughout the card, some line adjustments make sense, but we try to attack the ones that don’t. The advance line for this game was Chargers -1.5. We all know the Chargers beat the Washington Football Team 20-16, but I actually thought the Cowboys’ 31-29 loss to the Buccaneers was a more impressive performance. I thought this line would go to pick-’em, but it went the other direction as the Chargers are now 3-point home favorites. I won’t complain and will gladly take the extra points and the insurance of pushing if the Chargers prevail by a field goal. Best Bet: Cowboys + 3 (pool play: Cowboys 65/35 in ATS contests and even 55/45 in SU pools).
Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5) at Baltimore Ravens
Both teams had tough openers that could have gone either way, with the Chiefs outlasting the Browns 33-29 and the Ravens losing to the Raiders 33-27 in overtime. It’s tempting to take the Ravens as home underdogs of more than a field goal, but I’m not sure counting on the Chiefs to fail two weeks in a row is the way to go. Instead, let’s look to the Over/Under of 55. That’s pretty high, but, you know, sometimes oddsmakers can’t make a total high enough. Seriously, would your opinion of this total be any different if the oddsmakers had set it at 59.5? These teams combined for 60 points last week, and I don’t see any reason we won’t have another shootout. Note: Overs have started the season 3-0 in prime-time games, though I prefer the Under on Thursday night. Best Bet: Over 55 (pool play: Chiefs 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 70/30 in SU pools).
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-10.5)
The public is ready to dismiss a lot of teams off one poor Week 1 performance, such as the Jaguars, Titans, Falcons, Vikings and Giants. The Packers’ 38-3 loss to the Saints was the ugliest of all, yet it appears most people are willing to forgive and forget. In fact, the line has actually gone up from -10 on the advance to -10.5 and even some 11s as of Tuesday afternoon. Granted, the Lions were being thoroughly dominated by the 49ers before rallying late to get the back-door cover, but I see that comeback as a great sign that they’ll fight to the end in this game. Besides, are we so sure this isn’t the end of the line for the Aaron Rodgers era that everyone is expecting to end anyway? I’ll take that chance — and the points. Best Bet: Lions + 10.5 (pool play: Lions 67/33 in ATS contests, but Packers closer to 80/20 in SU pools).