Tuley's Takes on Week 15

December 14, 2021 07:17 PM
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NFL Week 14 was a roller-coaster here in the Tuley’s Takes home office.

As a dog-or-pass bettor, it was not fun watching favorites go 11-1 SU and 10-2 ATS on Sunday and 12-2 SU and 11-3 ATS overall. We went 1-4 ATS with our best bets and lucked out with that one win as we needed the Ravens to rally from a 24-3 deficit, with Tyler Huntley replacing an injured Lamar Jackson, to cover as 2.5- to 3-point underdog in a 24-22 loss at the Browns.

We hope readers have been following our two-team, 6-point teaser recommendations as they’ve boosted our profits in winning weeks and helped salvage our losing weeks. Our biggest bet was on the Ravens + 8.5/Bengals + 7.5 (flipped in our “Tuley’s Takes Today” version of this column at VSiN.com). We also recommended using the Seahawks -1.5 vs. the Texans and the Rams + 8.5 at the Cardinals, and we added Rams + 8.5/Over 45 in Monday’s “Tuley’s Takes Today,” so we swept our teaser bets and actually ended up making a profit on the week.

We’re done with bye weeks, so let’s get to the full 16-game card for NFL Week 15 as I’ll give my take on each game from my dog-or-pass point of view. With favorites dominating so much last week, I think chalk bettors will be eager to put that money back in action, so we should get a lot of value with dogs this week. Per usual, even if I don’t have a strong opinion on a game, I’ll give my pool play strategy for contests which require picking every game.

Kansas City Chiefs (-4) at Los Angeles Chargers

This is a great Thursday nighter to kick off Week 15 with the AFC West lead on the line. The Chiefs have won six straight and the bandwagon is filling up, but I’m willing to fade them with the Chargers, who have also looked great in consecutive wins over the Bengals and Giants. Let’s not forget that the Chargers beat the Chiefs 30-24 in their first meeting (granted, the Chiefs were in disarray at the time). The KC bandwagon is filling up, as the Chiefs opened as 3-point favorites and it was up to 4 as of this writing on Tuesday. We’re seeing some buyback at Chargers + 4 as the line has dipped to 3.5 at some books.

Best Bet: Chargers + 4 (pool play: Chargers in contests that use Thursday night games).

Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns (-3)

This is the first of two Saturday games this week. When I was first writing up this game on Tuesday morning, I couldn’t decide if I could trust the reeling Raiders at + 6. Then it was announced that the Browns were entering the NFL’s enhanced COVID-19 protocols as eight players were put on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including WR Jarvis Landry and TE Austin Hooper. The line dropped to 3, and I certainly don’t want the Raiders at that price.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Browns 55/45 in ATS contests and 65/35 in SU pools).

New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts (-2.5)

In Saturday’s nightcap, we get a great matchup with the Patriots visiting the Colts. The Patriots are atop the AFC East and the No. 1 seed entering Week 15. They opened as short favorites at a lot of books, but the Colts are now -2.5. The Patriots are tempting as underdogs, but the Colts have a lot going for them with Jonathan Taylor running wild and Carson Wentz not throwing crazy interceptions. This seems like the perfect spot to kick off our teaser portfolio for the week as we get to move the Patriots up to + 8.5 in a standard two-team, 6-point teaser (moving through the key numbers of 3 and 7). Our top teaser recommendation this week is Patriots + 8.5 with the Bengals teased up from + 1.5 to + 7.5 at the Broncos. Our other option would be to tease the Dolphins down from -8.5 to -2.5 vs. the Jets and the Steelers up from + 2 to + 8 vs. the Titans.

Best Bet: Patriots in two-team, 6-point teasers, led by Patriots + 8.5/Bengals + 7.5 (pool play: Patriots 55/45 in ATS contests, but Colts 60/40 in SU pools).

Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles (-5)

The top game in Sunday’s betting rotation has a pair of 6-7 teams needing a win in the NFC wild-card chase. The Eagles have been a wise-guy team all season and we’re seeing them getting support in this game as well. The advance line was Eagles -2.5 and it was increased to -3 after Washington lost 27-20 to the Cowboys while the Eagles were on a bye. With Jalen Hurts expected to return, the line has steamed to Eagles -5 as of this writing and I’m happy to fade that move. I don’t see much difference between these teams, and this game could easily come down to a field goal.

Best Bet: Washington + 5 (pool play: Washington 67/33 in ATS contest, but Eagles still 65/35 in SU pools).

Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills (-10.5)

Early this season, the Bills looked like the best team in the AFC and the Panthers looked like wild-card contenders. They’ve both fallen in the standings and in the estimation of oddsmakers and bettors. I don’t understand why this line is so high, but I’ll gladly take as many points as they’re willing to give me. Cam Newton still has moments of brilliance, but this is more of a bet against the Bills, losers of three of their last four (though the three losses were to the Colts, Patriots and Buccaneers). Newton should be able to do enough against the Bills defense, which isn’t playing as well as earlier in the season. And don’t forget Bills QB Josh Allen was in a walking boot after Sunday’s loss to the Bucs, so who knows how effective he’ll be if cleared to  play.

Best Bet: Panthers + 10.5 (pool play: Panthers 67/33 in ATS contests, but Bills still 75/25 in SU pools).

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (-8.5)

The Dolphins are actually in the AFC wild-card race thanks to five straight wins after a 1-7 start. The Dolphins beat the Jets 24-17 in their first meeting and should get the job done again. You know I’m not going to lay more than a touchdown with any team, but I’m certainly willing to tease the Dolphins down to under a field goal.

Best Bet: Dolphins in teasers (pool play: Dolphins 55/45 in ATS contest but closer to 90/10 in SU pools).

Dallas Cowboys (-10.5) at New York Giants

The Cowboys keep rolling along with a three-game lead in the NFC East. They routed the Giants 44-20 on Oct. 10 at home, so that’s a concern. But the Cowboys haven’t won by more than 10 points on the road all season. The Giants have failed to cover in three of their last four games, but I continue to see enough improvement from Saquon Barkley and Mike Glennon (Daniel Jones is still out with a neck injury) to believe they can stay within one score.

Best Bet: Giants + 10.5 (pool play: Giants 75/25 in ATS contests, but Cowboys still 80/20 in SU pools).

Green Bay Packers (-4.5) at Baltimore Ravens

This line has been all over the place after Ravens QB Lamar Jackson left Sunday’s game in Cleveland. We’ve seen it as low as Packers -2 and as high as -7, but with Baltimore coach John Harbaugh saying he expects Jackson to play, oddsmakers have split the difference at Packers -4.5 as of this writing. I have to pass for now with all of the uncertainty, but check “Tuley’s Takes Today” later in the week.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Ravens 55/45 in ATS contests if Jackson starts, but Packers still around 67/33 in SU pools).

Tennessee Titans (-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are tempting as home dogs here, but the number is too short. The last time we saw the Steelers, they were falling behind 29-0 to the Vikings on Thursday night and looked like one of the worst teams in the league, before rallying and nearly covering in a 36-28 loss. The Titans came off their bye and rolled the hapless Jaguars 20-0. The Steelers (6-6-1) are still fighting to stay alive in the AFC North and wild-card races, and I expect this to come down to one score. I like the Steelers to cover the + 8 in teasers.

Best Bet: Steelers in teasers (pool play: Titans 55/45 in ATS contests and 60/40 in SU pools).

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-3.5)

With so many great matchups this week, is anyone other than draftniks going to watch this game? If Tyrod Taylor was still starting for the Texans, I might consider them here, but I’ll pass with Davis Mills. The Urban Meyer era has been so dysfunctional, I can’t imagine anyone rushing to the windows to lay more than a field goal on the Jaguars.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play:Texans 55/45 in ATS contests but reluctantly flipping to Jaguars 55/45 in SU pools).

Arizona Cardinals (-13.5) at Detroit Lions

The Lions let us down in a 38-10 loss at the Broncos, though they had an excuse as they were short-handed due to COVID-19 issues (I’m not making any excuses; I stuck with them even after hearing about the players being out). But the Lions have been consistently more competitive than the other dregs of the league. Despite a league-worst 1-12-1 record, they’re still 8-5 ATS. The Cardinals should bounce back from their Monday night loss to the Rams, but this line is still too high. The Cardinals are 7-0 SU and ATS on the road this season, but I’ll take the Lions (4-2 ATS at home) with the points.

Best Bet: Lions + 13.5 (pool play: Lions 75/25 in ATS contests, but Cardinals still around 90/10 in SU pools).

Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers (-9.5)

Winners of two of their last three games, this team is still in the NFC wild-card hunt with a RB-by-committee, a serviceable passing game and an underrated defense. Oh, wait, did you think I was talking about the 49ers? No, the Falcons are right there at 6-7 with a suddenly important game. Matt Ryan isn’t lighting up the scoreboard like he used to, but the running game has gotten a boost from WR-turned-RB Cordarelle Patterson. The 49ers are using Deebo Samuel in a similar way, so you can’t tell me there’s this much of a spread between these two teams.

Best Bet: Falcons + 9.5 (pool play: Falcons 67/33 in ATS contests, but 49ers still 70/30 in SU pools — but taking some shots with the Falcons).

Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos (-1.5)

It looked like the Bengals would be better than 7-6 at this point in the season, but despite consecutive losses to the Chargers and 49ers, I still have them rated higher than the Broncos and think we have the wrong team favored here. The best way to play this game is teasing the Bengals from the currently widely available line of + 1.5 to above a touchdown at + 7.5. This is my top teaser play of the week, coupled with the Patriots + 8.5.

Best Bet: Bengals in teasers (pool play: Bengals 55/45 in all SU and ATS contests).

Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams (-5)

I’m loving the underdogs this week, but this is one line that feels a little short as I’d like to be getting more than a touchdown with a struggling Seahawks team against a Rams team that just beat the Cardinals. And, whoops, as of this writing, the line has dropped to Rams -5, so I’m speculating we’re going to get more COVID news from L.A. The line is definitely too short now to take the Seahawks.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Rams 55/45 in ATS contests and 67/33 in SU pools).

New Orleans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-11)

Tom Brady keeps rolling along, and the public loves to bet him (with good reason). But here’s the biggest example of an inflated line this week. It’s as if oddsmakers and the betting public forget that the Saints beat the Buccaneers 36-27 on Halloween and have, in fact, gone 3-1 SU and ATS against Brady since he moved to Tampa (the loss was in the playoffs). We also saw the return last week of Alvin Kamara, who jump-started the Saints offense and even helped open things up for Taysom Hill. Despite the Bucs’ 10-3 SU record, they’re just 7-6 ATS.

Best Bet: Saints + 11 (pool play: Saints 75/25 in ATS contests, but Buccaneers still 80/20 in SU pools — with several entries with Saints pulling the upset).

MInnesota Vikings (-3.5) at Chicago Bears

We get the Bears again in prime time? Actually, the Bears put on quite a show on Sunday night, leading the Packers 27-21 at halftime with big plays on offense and special teams. However, they were overwhelmed in the second half and lost 45-30, failing to cover as 12-point dogs. The Vikings aren’t playing as well as the Packers, but I fear the same thing happening in this game as the line is too short to take the Bears.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Vikings 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 70/30 in SU pools).

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