It’s been a whirlwind end of 2019 here in the Tuley’s Takes office with the Vegas football contests wrapping up in addition to following all our bets in NFL Week 17 and the college bowls.
We lost our lone bowl play last week with Washington State 3 vs. Air Force in the Cheez-It Bowl as our overall NCAA Best Bet record dipped to 29-18-1 ATS (61.7%). We’re also hoping to hold on to a top-20 finish in the Golden Nugget contest with Kansas State 2.5 in Tuesday’s Liberty Bowl. If you read this in time to play along, the line is up to 3 (or 125 on the money line).
NFL Week 17 was a roller coaster. We went 2-4 ATS, winning nicely with the Dolphins 16 vs. the Patriots (wish I had called for the outright upset there) but then losing with the Chargers 8, Redskins 11 and Giants 4.5. Some good karma came our way with a lucky back-door cover by the Raiders 3.5, but then we finished the regular season with the Seahawks 3 coming up just short. All in all, it was a frustrating day as our Best Bet record dipped to 59-51-3 (53.6%).
But, hey, it’s a new year — so Happy New Year, everyone — as we head into the NFL’s second season. Let’s get to this week’s wild-card action (lines at VSiN’s host hotel at the South Point as of Monday night).
Takes on NFL
Bills (O/U 42.5) at Texans (-2.5)
Tuley’s Take: First, let me post my obligatory disclaimer that I have the Texans at 30/1 and 40/1 to win the Super Bowl, so I’m a little biased. However, when I tried to handicap this matchup objectively, I thought the line should have been closer to pick-’em and maybe even Buffalo as a short road favorite. I’m not sure Houston should be given anything for home-field advantage as the Texans, who did beat the Patriots at home, are 1-5 ATS as home faves with straight-up losses to the Panthers and Broncos. This line has come down from 3 to 2.5, and I agree with the move. The best approach might be to take the Bills 8.5 in a 6-point teaser with another game you like (Saints -2 and/or Eagles 8, if you’re looking for the advantageous teasers that pass through both the key numbers of 3 and 7). Having said all that, I’m taking the Under as my Best Bet as I expect both defenses to step up. I made this total 40. The Westgate actually opened it at 39.5 before getting bet up to match the rest of the market, but I think they had it right. Best Bet: Under 42.5.
Titans (O/U 43.5) at Patriots (-4.5)
Tuley’s Take: The Patriots’ loss to the Dolphins as 17-point home favorites wasn’t only embarrassing, it also relegated them to wild-card weekend for the first time since 2009. Most people are thinking Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will just flip the switch and roll at home now that the playoffs are starting, but I’m not so sure this team will be able to do it. We’ve seen the warning signs all year that Brady isn’t as sharp as he used to be, and the defense padded its stats against a soft early schedule and hasn’t been nearly as dominant against good teams. Giving up 27 points at home vs. Miami with a first-round bye on the line provides confidence that Tennessee can do the same. The Patriots have had problems stopping strong running games, and the Titans have NFL-leading rusher Derrick Henry (1,540 yards). QB Ryan Tannehill has blossomed in Tennessee and has enough mobility to buy extra time and hit big plays, especially to WR A.J. Brown. Titans in a not-so-titanic upset. Best Bet: Titans 4.5 and at 180 or better on the money line).
Vikings (O/U 48) at Saints (-8)
Tuley’s Take: I know I hinted at the Saints teased down to -2, but I actually love the Vikings getting 8 here — though if the Saints win by a FG or TD, we can all cash tickets against the books no matter which way we’re playing. I know the Saints looked like world-beaters in their routs of the Colts, Titans and Panthers the last three weeks and the Vikings are limping into the playoffs after losses to the Packers and Bears. But in objectively handicapping this matchup, I thought the Saints should only be about three-point favorites. The Vikings’ defense is still good enough to contain Drew Brees & Co., and the offense should get RB Dalvin Cook back. He should open things up for Kirk Cousins, and the Saints will have to respect the play-action fake. I’m not as confident here in the outright upset, but taking the points is definitely the play. Best Bet: Vikings 8.
Seahawks (-1.5) at Eagles (O/U 46)
Tuley’s Take: Anyone have a coin to flip? This is a toss-up, further emphasized by the fact some books opened the Eagles as short home faves while others opted for the Seahawks. The market has moved to Seattle being favored, and I agree with the move as I made the Seahawks -1. They’ve actually performed better on the road this season (7-1 SU, 5-2-1 ATS), including a 17-9 win Nov. 24 in Philly, so why shouldn’t they be favored? I see these teams as very similar with defenses that aren’t as strong as recent years and QBs Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz carrying their offenses with a hodgepodge of weapons. Despite the earlier score, I’m expecting this to be a shootout, so give me the Over. Best Bet: Over 46.