We’re happy to report that parity is alive and well in the NFL this season. It was disappointing to end Week 2 with the Lions’ non-cover on “Monday Night Football,” especially after they actually led the Packers 17-14 at halftime and underdogs bettors were getting between + 10.5 and + 12 points ...
We interrupt this “Tuley’s Takes” column to remind you to check out the new “Tuley’s Takes Today” every morning at VSiN.com. It’s an extension of this column but on a daily basis so we can update our picks as the lines move during the week and also make MLB plays that aren’t possible with the previous once-a-week-only model. We went 4-2 ATS with our college football picks on Saturday and 5-2 ATS with the NFL on Sunday (plus the Chiefs-Ravens Over), plus some underdog baseball winners along the way, including the Cardinals around + 175 vs. the Brewers on Monday night. So please bookmark https://www.vsin.com/news/dave-tuley-columns/ and check it every day or follow the link in the free VSiN newsletter, which I assume you receive every day as a VSiN all-access subscriber. And now back to our regularly scheduled column, already in progress ...
... and yada, yada, yada, I’m really tired today.”
Anyway, let’s get to the NFL Week 3 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 of which require a pick in every game.
Carolina Panthers (-7.5) at Houston Texans
I was excited to see Sam Darnold move from New York to Carolina and team up with running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receivers DJ Moore and Robby Anderson. After a 2-0 start, including an upset of the Saints, it appears everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon. The advance line on this game before the season was just Panthers -4, but it was posted as -7 on Sunday and is now over the key number at -7.5. I would usually be all over the prime-time home underdog getting more than a TD, but I don’t see the Houston defense slowing down Darnold & Co. and I’m not ready to back the Texans with Davis Mills at QB. Note that prime-time Overs are 6-0 to start the season and this game has a total of only 43.5. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Panthers 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Arizona Cardinals (-7.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Here’s another one of the dregs of the NFL getting more than a TD at home. Again, these ugly dogs perform very well over the years — and if an NFL team is getting this many points at home, it’s usually a supposed mismatch like this, but the dogs often cover anyway. So, yes, I’m plugging my nose and taking the Jaguars here. The Cardinals, as exciting as they are, need to be more consistent, and this is the type of game where they often play down to the level of their competition. Best Bet: Jaguars + 7.5 (pool play: Jaguars 67/33 in ATS contests — slightly lower if only offered + 7 or especially + 6.5 — but Cardinals still around 80/20 in SU pools).
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-5)
This game is tough to pick on Tuesday with the uncertain status of Carson Wentz (sprained both ankles). I’m not looking to back Jacob Eason if he’s forced into action and not too thrilled with a less-than-100 percent Wentz either. If you like the Titans after the way they bounced back to upset the Seahawks after a putrid Week 1 loss to the Cardinals, you probably want to bet this ASAP as this line could steam to 7 if Wentz is declared out and everyone jumps on the Titans. I could change my mind if Wentz is healthier than expected. This is a good time to mention that I’ll provide any updates in my new “Tuley’s Takes Today” column at VSiN.com during the week. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Titans at least 60/40 in ATS pools and around 75/25 in SU pools).
Baltimore Ravens (-8.5) at Detroit Lions
Here’s the third home dog of the week. A lot was made last week about there being seven home dogs. You probably didn’t hear a lot about it after the fact because they ended up going just 2-5 SU (only outright upsets by the Panthers and Ravens) and 3-4 ATS. Home-field advantage isn’t as strong as a lot of people expected with fans returning, but I’m still jumping on the Lions. The problem with the Lions is they haven’t played a complete game yet, but they did rally to get the backdoor cover against the closing line vs. the 49ers in Week 1, and if Jared Goff can stop fumbling the snap or dropping the ball in his long windup, the Lions can stick close enough to the Ravens here. Best Bet: Lions + 8.5 (pool play: Lions 65/35 in ATS contests, but Ravens still 70/30 in SU pools).
Washington Football Team at Buffalo Bills (-9)
The first question everyone is asking is: Which Bills team will show up Sunday? They underachieved against the Steelers in losing their opener 23-16 but then throttled the Dolphins 35-0. I’m tempted to take Washington here plus the points, especially because it has a defense that can bring the pressure on Josh Allen like the Steelers did. I didn’t include this in my picks on the VSiN NFL Best Bets page because I think the line is still going to climb with the public jumping on the Bills even more after last week’s shutout. So, again, check out “Tuley’s Takes Today” the rest of the week, but I’m sure I’m just going to keep saying to wait to see if this line possibly gets to + 10. Regardless, I’ll be on Washington at + 8.5 or higher. Best Bet: Washington + 8.5 or higher, widely available at + 9 as of Tuesday (pool play: Washington 67/33 in ATS contests, though still Bills 70/30 in SU pools).
New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots (-3)
The Saints have been through a lot in just two weeks. Uprooted from their home by hurricanes and practicing in Dallas and playing Week 1 in Jacksonville, it wasn’t surprising they had a letdown in Week 2, especially with all the COVID-19 issues on the coaching staff. I’m expecting a bounce-back this week. I’ve seen and heard a lot of people saying Bill Belichick will have a game plan to shut down Jameis Winston like he did with Jets rookie Zach Wilson last week, but I’m not buying it. I also like the way the Patriots’ offense is coming together, so I also love the Over here as I think it’s set way too low. Best Bets: Saints + 3 and Over 42 (pool play: Saints 67/33 in ATS contests — though slightly lower if only offered + 2.5 — and even 55/45 in SU pools).
Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5)
You’ve probably heard the stat by now that the Chiefs are only 2-11 ATS in their last 13 games. Patrick Mahomes is awesome, but the Chiefs continually are involved in close games and, even though he usually pulls out the victory, it’s not conducive to covering games, especially for such a popular betting favorite. It looks like the oddsmakers and betting public have finally caught up as this line opened Chiefs -7 and has been bet down to -6.5 pretty much everywhere. I would be tempted to take the Chargers as a dog as I’ve had a lot of success fading the Chiefs ATS during this run, but not at this depressed price. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Chiefs 55/45 in ATS contests and round 75/25 in SU pools).
Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants (-3)
This matchup of 0-2 teams would probably have this week’s lowest betting handle if it wasn’t for the fact the Giants have such a huge fan base. That being said, that’s the only reason I can think of for the Giants being favored by a full field goal. The Falcons looked pitiful in their 32-6 loss to the Eagles in the opener but showed life against the Buccaneers despite losing 48-25. I expect Matt Ryan to have even more success against the Giants defense while Daniel Jones and the Giants offense won’t be able to match them score for score. Best Bet: Falcons + 3 (pool play: Falcons around 70/30 ATS — obviously higher at + 3.5 but lower at + 2.5 — and also 60/40 in SU pools).
Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns (-7)
Well, Chicago, you asked for it, you got it with Justin Fields starting at QB. In the gambling community, one of the recurring questions that keeps coming up is if Fields is worth more to the spread than Andy Dalton, and it appears the answer is yes as this line has come down from Browns -9 on the advance line and reopened at -7.5 on Sunday after it appeared Fields would be getting his first start. It has since been bet down to 7 at most books. Of course, part of this dip could be attributed to the fact that the Browns had a hard time putting away the Texans on Sunday and ended up with a non-covering 31-21 victory. I might be tempted if this line were to go back to 7.5, but as of now there are just better bets on the board. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Bears 55/45 in ATS contests — though higher if a contest has + 7.5 and flip slightly to the Browns if line is made 6.5 — with Browns around 67/33 in SU pools).
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4)
As I’m writing this on Tuesday, news broke that Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger is banged up and has a pectoral injury. I grabbed the Bengals + 4 right away in case this line plummets with Mason Rudolph replacing Big Ben. Even if that doesn’t happen, I’m on the Bengals in this spot as they’ve shown a lot of good things on offense with Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase, etc. and have a chance to pull the upset and stay in first place in the AFC North. I would probably still take + 3.5 but pass if the line drops to 3 (note: see “Tuley’s Takes Today” for updates the rest of the week). Best Bet: Bengals + 4 (pool play: Bengals + 4).
Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders (-4)
This line was pick-’em over the summer and even Dolphins -1 at some books as they were expected to be the stronger team, but here we are with a big adjustment to Raiders -4 after their upsets of the Ravens and Steelers. Meanwhile, the Dolphins were lucky to squeak (or whatever that noise is that Dolphins make) by the Patriots in the opener and then blown out 35-0 by the Bills in Week 2. I know teams rebound from embarrassing performances like that all the time, and my first reaction was to take the Dolphins plus what could be considered an over-adjusted line, but I’m willing to bite, especially with Tua Tagovailoa’s status uncertain. This line could go higher. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Raiders around 55/45 in ATS contests and around 67/33 in SU pools).
New York Jets at Denver Broncos (-10.5)
My VSiN colleague Matt Youmans collects the picks for the VSiN NFL Best Bets page every week. In his email this week, he wrote “I’ll go ahead and pencil in Tuley for the Jets.” Well, I hated to disappoint him, but I found five stronger plays for the page. However, he is right that I won’t be able to pass up the week’s lone double-digit underdog. Granted, Jets rookie QB Zach Wilson is going through some growing pains and now faces Vic Fangio Broncos defense, but I don’t see how Denver — whose wins are against the Giants and Jaguars — should be favored by this much. I mean, you might not be with me on the Jets, but I can’t imagine many people saying, “I’m totally fine with laying 10.5 points with this Broncos team.” Best Bet: Jets + 10.5 (pool play: Jets 67/33 in ATS contests, but Broncos still 80/20 in SU pools).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1) at Los Angeles Rams
There are some strong matchups for “Game of the Week,” but this is probably it. The Rams were actually 1-point favorites on the advance line over the summer and even last week, but it’s now been flipped to the Buccaneers -1. The Rams really haven’t done anything wrong in the Matthew Stafford era — except struggling to put the Colts away in Week 2 — but the public is all in on the defending champions as Tom Brady continues to amaze. This could be a back-and-forth battle, but I don’t see it being as high-scoring as a lot of people expect. Brady will be facing easily the toughest defense he’s seen so far this season, and I also expect the Bucs defense to step up in this marquee matchup. Best Bet: Under 55.5 (pool play: Rams in slightly more than 50/50 in all SU & ATS contests).
Seattle Seahawks (-1.5) at Minnesota Vikings
Both teams are coming off a brutal loss (Seahawks blowing a two-TD lead to Titans, while the Vikings missed a game-winning field goal in their shootout in Arizona), with the Vikings actually having two such defeats with an OT loss at Cincinnati in the opener. The Vikings finally get their home opener, but I don’t think home cooking will be enough for them to be able to keep up with Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense. I was interested in the Over, but not at the inflated total of 55.5 points as oddsmakers obviously expect a shootout as well. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Seahawks around 55/45 in all SU & ATS contests).
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-3.5)
The Packers obviously rebounded from their 38-3 loss to the Saints in Week 1 by beating the Lions on Monday night (though they were down 17-14 at halftime before putting it all together in the second half). The Packers are sure to be one of the most-best underdogs this week as people love to take Aaron Rodgers plus any points, let alone getting the hook at + 3.5. However, I’m not able to pull the trigger as all I can picture is San Francisco running backs gashing the Green Bay defense in recent years. Of course, the 49ers’ RBs room has suffered as many setbacks and the one in Baltimore, so monitor this situation during the week. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Packers around 55/45 in ATS contests, but 49ers around 60/40 in SU pools).
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (-4)
A lot of people were jumping on the Eagles’ bandwagon after their 32-6 rout of the Falcons in their opener, but they were grounded in Week 2’s 17-11 loss to the 49ers. Of course, that was against a stronger 49ers defense than they’ll face this week at Jerry World. The Cowboys rebounded with their opening-night loss to the Buccaneers with a nice road over the Chargers, so their overall resume — albeit only two games into the season — is stronger, so I’m not sure I’m getting enough points here to take the dog. I might need a few days to decide, so check for updates in “Tuley’s Takes Today” the rest of the week.. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Eagles 55/45 in ATS contests — higher at + 4.5 and lower at + 3.5 — but Cowboys about 67/33 in SU pools).