As we keep documenting here and in our daily “Tuley’s Takes Today” on VSiN.com, underdogs continue to dominate early-season NFL betting. But it leveled off a little at 8-7 ATS in Week 4 with the Browns-Vikings game closing pick-’em. The Browns were short favorites the whole week, so I wouldn’t correct anyone who said it was an 8-8 ATS split.
We pretty much split here as we went 5-6 ATS with our recommended plays, but another trend continued as our supposed top plays went 1-4 ATS on the VSiN NFL Best Bets page and most of my contest entries went 2-3 ATS while our lesser plays and leans performed better. The good news is we came out ahead on our personal betting as nine of 11 six-point teasers that capture the key numbers of 3 and 7 came in to save the weekend. If you’re not diversifying your portfolio with teasers, why not?
So, with that in mind, let’s go through the Week 5 card. Per usual, since I’m known as a dog-or-pass bettor, I’ll list whether I have a Best Bet or if I’m passing on the dog, which many readers see as a tacit endorsement to bet the chalk. Either way, I’ll also post my pool-play suggestions to give my level of confidence for those in all kinds of contests, some in which you have to pick every game. (If you’re looking for my Takes on the MLB playoffs as we try to carry over our winning ways from the end of the regular season, check out the daily “Tuley’s Takes Today” column at vsin.com/news/dave-tuley-columns each morning.)
Los Angeles Rams (-2) at Seattle Seahawks
Thursday night brings a pretty good matchup with the Rams and Seahawks coming off losses and trying to keep up with the Cardinals (4-0) in the NFC West. We’ve written many times about home-field advantage being nearly nonexistent this season — even Seattle was 0-1 with its “12th man” in an OT loss to the Titans — so we’re not too surprised to see the Rams as short road favorites. I lean to the home dog here, but as we’re seeing more and more, the best way to play this is starting 6-point teasers heading into the weekend. This line has been creeping up from Rams -1 to -2 as of Tuesday afternoon, so I’m loving that we can tease the Seahawks to + 8. However, I’m holding out to see if we get to + 2.5 and + 8.5. Prime candidates to tie to the Seahawks include Washington from + 1.5 to + 7.5 vs. the Saints, the Vikings -8 down to -2 vs. the Lions, the Browns + 1.5 to + 7.5 at the Chargers, the Cowboys -7 down to -1 vs. the Giants, the Bills + 3 (or possibly + 2.5) to + 9 or + 8.5 at the Chiefs and the Ravens -7 down to -1 vs. the Colts. Best Bet: Pass on side, but using Seahawks in teasers (pool play: Seahawks in all my rare contests that include “Thursday Night Football”).
New Yorks Jets at Atlanta Falcons (-3) in London
I guess I’m getting up early Sunday for this London game at 6:30 a.m. PT. I love these games, especially since it lowers the number to eight games in the 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT time slot. The Jets picked up the first win of the Zach Wilson era, 27-24 in overtime vs. the Titans. We’ll see how the Jets handle the trip over the pond, but I trust them more than the Falcons at this point. Wilson should have his second straight good game while the defense should be able to pressure Matt Ryan into mistakes. There were some 3.5s earlier, but I wouldn’t expect those to return, and that’s fine as we’re expecting another outright upset. Because it looks like a 3 (instead of 2.5), we didn’t include it in our list of potential teaser plays for this week since you’re not getting value capturing the dead number or 9, but I wouldn’t talk anyone out of including the Jets in their teasers. Best Bet: Jets + 3 (pool play: Jets around 67/33 in ATS contests — higher at + 3.5, lower at + 2.5 — and 55/45 in SU pools).
Miami Dolphins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-10)
Some of us thought the Dolphins were putting together a pretty solid team and just needed Tua Tagovailoa to improve. However, with him getting hurt and Jacoby Brissett being mediocre at best, the Dolphins are competitive only when they win the turnover battle. I’m not willing to bet on Tom Brady being loose with the ball this week. The Bucs should methodically take care of business, and the Dolphins aren’t a team I’d trust to get the back-door cover. That’s if they’re even close enough to have a shot; remember their 35-0 loss to the Bills. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Buccaneers around 67/33 in ATS contests and all SU pools).
Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers (-4)
The Eagles have shown flashes of competence, especially Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith, and it looked like they would keep up with the Chiefs last week. However, a lot of their success has been against weaker defenses. And when I look at this week’s game in Carolina, I keep thinking of how they scored only 11 points in San Francisco in Week 2. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Panthers around 60/40 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
New Orleans Saints (-1.5) at Washington Football Team
These teams are tough to figure out. The Saints beat the Packers and Patriots but lost to the Panthers and Giants. Washington lost to the Chargers and Bills as expected but barely beat the Giants and Falcons. With Washington beating the Giants, who beat the Saints, I lean to the short home dog. But I’m still waiting for the vaunted Washington defense to show up this season. You know where I’m going here: Teaserville! Best Bet: Pass on side, but teasing Football Team up over a TD (pool play: Washington around 60/40 in all my SU and ATS contests).
Tennessee Titans (-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars
One ATS winner I missed last week was the Jaguars + 7.5 on Thursday night at the Bengals. Trevor Lawrence played better than expected and nearly pulled off the upset, though we were happy to get our Cincinnati teasers home to start the weekend. The Titans are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Jets, so it’s tempting to take the points with the Jaguars, but the line is too short for me. In the advance lines posted last week, the Titans were -7.5. I understand it being dropped off the Titans’ lousy performance, but that’s losing too much value. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Jaguars 55/45 in ATS contests in which I have to make a pick, though Titans still 67/33 in SU pools).
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-8)
The Lions are clearly the best 0-4 team in the NFL (the Jaguars are the only other winless team), but they’re also better than several 1-3 teams. They covered in losses to the 49ers (barely) and Ravens (should have won), and the loss to the Packers was more competitive than the 35-17 score indicates. I was disappointed they came up short against the Bears, but I’m back on them this week against a Minnesota team that looked awful in an ugly 14-7 loss to the Browns. Maybe we’re not giving the Cleveland defense the credit it deserves, but we expect the Lions to be able to stay within a touchdown. With the Lions still learning how to win, I’m not as confident in the outright upset as I am with most of my other underdog picks, so that’s why I included the Vikings in my teaser list. Hopefully we can nail the middle with the Vikings winning SU by a field goal or touchdown. Best Bet: Lions + 8 (pool play: Lions 70/30 in ATS contest, but Vikings around 75/25 in SU contests).
Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers (-1)
In the not-so-distant past, this game would have been off the board with Denver QB Teddy Bridgewater going through concussion protocol. The Steelers -1 line kind of shows that oddsmakers are collectively skeptical he’ll be cleared to play. If Bridgewater does start, I’d expect this to flip to the Broncos being favored. While I’ve heard some say the Broncos would be -1 with Bridgewater, I believe he’s more than a 2-point improvement over Drew Lock. Regardless, this makes it hard to pick on a Tuesday. The Steelers’ defense gives them a shot here and is closer to the Ravens’ defense that shut down the Broncos last week as opposed to the easy schedule Denver started with to go 3-0. But obviously Ben Roethlisberger and the offense is struggling. Best Bet: Pass, especially until Bridgewater’s status is updated (pool play: Steelers around 55/45 in SU and ATS contests, but would flip to Broncos with Bridgewater).
Green Bay Packers (-3) at Cincinnati Bengals
I’m assuming a lot of contest players will quickly take the Packers and lay the 3 points with Aaron Rodgers without hesitation, especially if they don’t believe in the Bengals. However, I see the Bengals as a live home underdog here. Despite home teams being under .500 SU, they’re still 12-10 ATS on the season. While Rodgers is the man, I’m still not a fan of a Green Bay defense that allows 25 points per game. The Bengals’ stop unit is actually better at 18.8 points per game. RB Joe Mixon is questionable, which doesn’t help, but Joe Burrow (988 yards and nine TD passes vs. 897 yards and seven TD passes for Rodgers) is doing a great job of spreading the ball around to all his weapons. This could come down to a field goal, so I’m waiting to bet to see if the public bets it up to 3.5. Best Bet: Bengals + 3 or better (pool play: Bengals 60/40 in ATS contests — higher at + 3.5, lower at + 2.5 — but Packers around 55/45 in SU pools).
New England Patriots (-9) at Houston Texans
Week 4 wasn’t too good for yours truly when betting ATS, but one good decision I made was resisting the Texans + 16.5 at the Bills here in Point Spread Weekly or when the line climbed to + 18 over the weekend. This is another spot with a home underdog of more than a touchdown that has been great for me over years, but I just can’t pull the trigger with the way the Texans’ offense is playing. Houston averages 16.8 points per game, but that’s skewed by the 37 points put up in Week 1 against the Jaguars when Tyrod Taylor was at QB — otherwise it’s 10 points per game the last three weeks. And now they face Bill Belichick off two straight losses? No, thanks. As for teasers, the bookmakers have inflated this line to 9 because they know the whole world would be teasing the Patriots down to -2.5 if they could, and which many will still do by buying 6.5-point teasers at a higher price. Best Bet: Pass, though teasing Patriots down to -2.5 if we can find a book that drops the line to -8.5 (pool play: Patriots 60/40 in ATS contests where I have to play every game, plus closer to 90/10 in SU pools).
Chicago Bears at Las Vegas Raiders (-5.5)
The Bears are coming off a win over the Lions with Justin Fields at QB, but we might see the return of Andy Dalton. A lot of people are criticizing Matt Nagy for his handling of that situation, but I actually feel bad for him. He tried sticking to his plan of bringing Fields along slowly like he did with Patrick Mahomes when he ran the offense in Kansas City (and that seemed to work out fine), but the Dalton injury in Week 1 forced his hand. Anyway, whoever is at QB will have a hard time keeping the offense up with the Raiders. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Raiders around 67/33 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Chargers (-1)
The Chargers are certainly gaining a lot of bandwagon jumpers with their 3-1 start and back-to-back wins over the Chiefs and Raiders. But the Browns are also 3-1, with a defense to match the Chargers. This really should be a back-and-forth battle, but not in typical shootout mode like we see in today’s NFL. I see both defenses stepping up and for this game to be about 20-17 or 23-20. The Browns are tempting as short road dogs, but again let’s go to Teaserville. If you haven’t already used them in earlier games, this would be a good one to tie in the other afternoon game with the Cowboys down to -1 or the prime-time games with the Bills + 9 or Ravens -1. Best Bet: Pass, except for Browns in teasers (pool play: Browns slightly more than 50/50 in all SU and ATS contests).
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-7)
I know I’m using the Cowboys in teasers, but I do like the Giants plus the points. I don’t want to get too carried away with the Giants’ upset of the Saints, but Daniel Jones has been playing well enough, and Saquon Barkley is always dangerous when healthy. The Cowboys are on a roll after losing the opener to the Buccaneers, but I’m not as sold on the new, improved defense, though with five INTs in four games, Trevon Diggs is an early candidate for defensive player of the year. I’ll go on record as taking the Giants + 7, though I’m hoping the public pushed it to 7.5. Best Bet: Giants + 7 or higher, though also using Cowboys in teasers and shooting for a middle (pool play: Giants 60/40 in ATS contests — though higher at + 7.5 and lower at + 6.5 — but Cowboys 70/30 in SU pools).
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-5.5)
The Cardinals were my second Super Bowl value bet posted just after last February’s big game (ahem, the Colts were my other pick), so I’m thrilled with the 4-0 start. This line was pick-’em during the offseason and the Cards were just -2.5 on the advance lines last week, but I don’t see value on the 49ers here, especially if Trey Lance is forced into his first NFL start. If Jimmy Garoppolo is cleared to play and this line remains more than a field goal, I might jump on the 49ers later in the week (good time to plug the “Tuley Takes Today” column on VSiN.com, where I update my plays later in the week based on how the lines are moving, plus the weekly NFL Best Bets file that gets posted at VSiN.com on Thursday nights, where I also give an update on these picks here). Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Cardinals 55/45 in ATS contests — but flip to 49ers if Garoppolo starts — and close to 75/25 in SU pools).
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-3)
I love Patrick Mahomes as much as the next football fan, but I’m not so sure the right team is favored here. The oddsmakers obviously have to stick with their power ratings and the public’s desire to bet the Chiefs, but Josh Allen and the Bills are playing just as well as if not better than the Chiefs. And with two shutouts, the defense is far superior. But, hey, we’ll take any points they’re willing to give us. This line was as high as Chiefs -4, but it was down to -3 and we’re seeing movement Tuesday that makes us think it’ll settle below a field goal at 2.5. We’re on the Bills regardless, plus teasing up over a touchdown. Best Bet: Bills + 3 or + 2.5 if we must, plus Bills in teasers (pool play: Bills around 70/30 in ATS contests — though lower if offered only + 2.5 — and even 60/40 in SU pools).
Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (-7)
The Monday nighter is actually the third time this week I like the underdog plus the points, but I’m also teasing the favorite (we better middle at least one of these!). Anyway, the Colts got off the schneid with their minor upset of the Dolphins in Week 4. It wasn’t the most impressive performance, but a repeat should have them keeping up with the Ravens, who are 3-1 but a narrow win over the Chiefs and a miracle win over the Lions from being 1-3. I just don’t see how the spread should be this high. I would make it a lot closer to a field goal, which again is why I believe this is decided by three or four points and can have us win our Colts + 7 bet plus wind up the winning with any live teasers we have to the Ravens -1. Best Bet: Colts + 7, though also Ravens in teasers (pool play: Colts around 67/33 in ATS contest — higher at + 7.5 and lower at + 6.5 — but Ravens around 67/33 in SU pools).