Underdogs went 8-5 ATS in NFL Week 7, not counting Dallas-Washington, which closed a consensus pick-’em here in Vegas. But unlike Week 6, when dogs were 9-5 ATS and sportsbooks reported a great week, the bettors were on the right dogs last weekend.
Here in the Tuley’s Takes home office, we came out ahead both weeks at 4-2 with our best bets, including Under 43.5 in the Giants-Eagles game and 3-2 with our best ATS bets. We improved to 29-22 on the season, and that doesn’t include the fact our teaser recommendations are also doing great: They were 6-1 in Week 7, with the Raiders the only one to fail. Hopefully, our readers were mixing and matching the ones they liked and hit a big teaser ticket or several small ones.
In last week’s column, we included the Titans teased up to + 8 as they were a two-point dog when we were writing for “Point Spread Weekly.” When the Best Bets column came out Friday, we flipped that recommendation to Steelers + 7.5, but we both hit. We love when that happens (the books, not so much!).
Anyway, let’s see if we can keep the roll going with the Week 8 card. Lines are the consensus of Vegas books as of Tuesday afternoon. As regular readers know, if I don’t recommend an actual wager on a game, I’ll still give my pool play for those of us in contests in which we have to make a pick on every game with my degree of confidence for both SU and ATS pools.
Falcons at Panthers (-3 even)
This line was wavering between 2.5 and 3 early this week. The Falcons are better (OK, not much better) than their 1-5 record, and I lean to them as the right side even though they are getting even more infamous for blowing big or late leads. So I’m not too confident taking the short points, especially if getting only + 2.5. That leads us nicely into including them as a start to our teaser portfolio for the week, as we can take them up to + 8.5 or + 9. I don’t see many advantageous teaser options this week in which we capture the key numbers of 3 and 7, but I’ll be looking to include these: Lions up to + 8.5 or + 9, Packers down to -0.5 and Raiders up to + 8.5. Having said all that, I think the actual best way to play the “Thursday Night Football” game is Over 49 points. Both offenses are playing pretty well, and the defenses aren’t offering much resistance, so this should be a shootout. Best Bet: Over 49, plus teasers with Falcons up to + 8.5/+ 9 (pool play: Falcons on all my rare contests that use “TNF”).
Colts (-3) at Lions
This is similar to Falcons-Panthers, except the Lions are at home and I like them a lot better in this spot. Even though the Lions probably should have lost to the Falcons last week, they’re still better than their 3-3 record, while the 4-2 Colts are a little overrated. I know a lot of people like the Colts coming off their bye, but I’ll still go with the Lions carrying over the confidence from their last-second win as this should also come down to the final gun. Best Bet: Lions + 3, plus teaser (pool play: Lions 75/25 in ATS contests, especially if offered + 3.5, and even 55/45 in SU pools).
Vikings at Packers (-6.5)
Some books did pop up with the Packers -7.5, and I thought the Vikings could have value at that number, but it was quickly bet down. I’ve backed similar dogs in this spot, but that’s when I really thought the line should be closer to a field goal. It’s hard to pull the trigger on the Vikings on both teams’ bodies of work, but especially after the Packers beat them 43-34 and outgained them by 140 yards in the opener in Minnesota. How can we trust the Vikes to turn the table at Lambeau Field? Best Bet: Pass, except teasing Packers down to -0.5 (pool play: Packers 67/33 ATS as long as it’s -6.5 and closer to 90/10 in SU pools).
Patriots at Bills (-3.5)
The Patriots have lost two straight to drop to 2-4 and looked ugly doing it, to the point that Cam Newton is even doubting his superpowers and people are openly siding with Tom Brady over Bill Belichick as the straw that stirred the New England dynasty. However, the AFC East still goes through the Patriots, so the Bills have to show they’re truly ready to take the division crown by knocking out the champs. Besides, the Bills didn’t look like world-beaters in stopping the lowly Jets only 18-10, and if you excuse the Bills for that performance by saying they were looking ahead to this game, you have to give the same benefit of the doubt to Belichick & Co. Best Bet: Patriots + 3.5 (pool play: Patriots 70/30 in ATS contests, while the Bills only about 55/45 in SU pools).
Titans (-6) at Bengals
The Bengals have been very good to us this season as underdogs (5-2 ATS, or 4-2-1 ATS if you got only + 3 last week, despite a 1-5-1 SU record), and my initial lean is to them. But the injuries are starting to pile up, and the Titans look dangerous coming off a tough loss to the Steelers to knock them from the unbeaten ranks. I left this off my picks on the VSiN Best Bets page as I’m still on the fence, but I might use them in contests later in the week, especially if the line continues to climb. Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Bengals 67/33 in ATS contests at + 6.5 — closer to 50/50 at + 5.5 — though Titans 75/25 in SU pools).
Raiders at Browns (-2.5)
Here’s another short underdog on which you have to be really confident to take less than a field goal as you pretty much need them to win outright. The Raiders are an up-and-down team that I can’t quite trust in this spot. The Browns, even without Odell Beckham Jr., are the more consistent team when not playing the Ravens or Steelers. The Raiders aren’t at that level, though I’d still include them in my teaser portfolio even though they kept us from cashing even more teasers last week. Best Bet: Pass, except teasing Raiders up to + 8.5 (pool play: Browns around 67/33 in ATS contest and around 80/20 in SU pools).
Jets at Chiefs (-19.5)
The advance line for this game was Chiefs -21.5 to -22 at several books, and we thought we were going to have to go into how NFL underdogs of 20+ points are 10-3 ATS. However, sharp bettors already know it’s an automatic play to take + 20 on any given Sunday and bet this down. (It also helped that the Jets covered vs. the Bills on Sunday.) This is a ton of points for any team to cover, even the Chiefs, who don’t always win by big margins and needed an interception return and a kickoff return to rout the Broncos. Best Bet: Jets + 19.5 (pool play: Jets in all ATS contests, though Chiefs in all SU pools as we have a huuuuuge window here).
Rams (-4) at Dolphins
I have to say, if Ryan Fitzpatrick were still starting for Miami, I would be all over the home underdog here. I’m not saying Tua Tagovailoa will be a bust, but after watching Nick Foles being flustered and rushed into bad throws by the Rams’ relentless pass rush, I’m not too confident in Tagovailoa being thrown into the fire like this. His mobility will certainly help, but the Rams’ offense is also clicking, and I’m not getting enough points to take the dog. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Rams around 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Steelers at Ravens (-3.5)
With Vikings-Packers and Patriots-Bills losing some luster, this is the marquee early game after being moved here due to the NFL’s shuffling of the schedule (it’s Game No. 281-282 on your rotation). The Ravens have the benefit of coming off their bye and playing at home, but I’m not so sure they’re the better team. Ben Roethlisberger is playing like Big Ben of old, and though no defense can be truly dominant in 2020, the Steelers’ “D” should be prepared for Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ (running) offense. I’ll gladly take the hook. Best Bet: Steelers + 3.5 (pool play: Steelers 75/25 in ATS contests — though less at + 2.5 — and taking stand at 60/40 in SU pools).
Saints (-4) at Bears
This line was as low as Saints -2 before the Bears laid an egg on “Monday Night Football.” There’s some value in the Bears getting more than a field goal at home, and though it’s hard to trust them after they let me down vs. the Rams, the offense should have more success than it did against the Rams’ pass rush and keep this close. Still, I didn’t include this as one of my picks on the VSiN Best Bets page, and I haven’t bet it yet as I’m hoping the public steams it to 4.5. Best Bet: Bears + 4 (pool play: Bears around 67/33 in ATS contests, especially if getting the + 4.5, though Saints around 75/25 in SU pools).
49ers at Seahawks (-3)
Which 49ers team is going to show up? The one that got dominated 43-17 by the Dolphins, or the one that just ran over the Patriots 33-6? Probably something in between, so while I lean to the 49ers as the Seahawks tend to play a lot of close games, I don’t feel I’m getting quite enough points at + 3. Several books are at Seahawks -3 -120, so hopefully we do get + 3.5 later in the week. Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: 49ers around 60/40 in ATS contests, especially if we get the hook, though Seahawks around 67/33 in SU pools).
Chargers (-3) at Broncos
Holy cow, yet another short spread this week. The Broncos let us down in Week 7 against the Chiefs. Not too shocking, though disappointed with Drew Lock’s pick-six and giving up the kickoff return, so we never really got to see if the defense could keep them in the game. This is probably a better spot for the Broncos as home underdogs, though the Chargers’ offense with Justin Herbert is looking pretty potent itself. Best Bet: Broncos + 3 (pool play: Broncos 67/33 in ATS contests — all of them if getting + 3.5 — and slightly more in SU pools).
Cowboys at Eagles (off)
The Sunday nighter was off the board as of Tuesday afternoon as oddsmakers waited to see if Andy Dalton (concussion) would be able to go. Last week’s advance line at the Westgate was Eagles -3 and we saw an Eagles -3.5 at BetMGM, but it could certainly go higher after the Cowboys’ embarrassing 25-3 loss at Washington, especially if Ben DiNucci (who?) gets his first start. We would need a ton of points to back the Cowboys in any circumstances. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Eagles in all SU and ATS contests as of Tuesday, though we’ll see after Dalton’s status is cleared up and we see the available lines).
Buccaneers (-10.5) at Giants
The Monday nighter isn’t a marquee matchup, but I’m willing to jump in on the Giants plus the generous points. We all know the Buccaneers are on a roll, but let’s not crown them yet as they did lose 20-19 to the Bears just three weeks ago. Meanwhile, the Giants are 4-3 ATS despite a 1-6 SU record. They’ve been more competitive than expected in a lot of games, including covering in losses to the Bears, Rams, Cowboys and Eagles. There’s no reason they can’t stay within two scores of the Bucs. Best Bet: Giants + 10.5 (pool play: Giants in all my ATS contests, though Buccaneers in all SU pools).