We have a love/hate relationship with the last week of the NFL regular season here in the Tuley’s Takes home office. We love it because it concludes the handicapping contests I cover all year as I race to get the scoop with the first interview with the champions, but I hate it because there are so many games that have lines skewed by teams in must-win situations and games in which playoff-bound teams are resting starters or other teams playing out the string.
We didn’t have those worries last week, and even though favorites ended up going 12-4 SU (the Browns closed as short favorites) and 8-7-1 ATS, we were able to find enough live dogs to go 3-2 ATS on the VSiN NFL Best Bets page in Point Spread Weekly and 5-3 ATS with our plays overall as we nailed the four outright upsets with the Raiders, Bengals and Cardinals and Steelers.
Two-team, 6-points teasers were hit-and-miss as the Colts, Chargers and Seahawks were the only true “Wong teasers” that captured both the key numbers of 3 and 7. And the Colts failed while the Chargers and Seahawks hit – though they didn’t need the points as they both easily covered their spreads. Some people surely used borderline teasers like the Bears (winner), Rams (push if teased down to -1) and Cowboys (loser), so hopefully you made the right calls. Unfortunately, I did lose a teaser play on “Monday Night Football” that I added in the daily version of “Tuley’s Takes” at VSiN.com as I advised to go with Browns + 8/Under 48 when the Steelers were favored on Sunday night/Monday morning. We nearly cashed along with an earlier Steelers + 3 bet, but that’s one middle that got away.
Anyway, let’s get to the full NFL Week 18 card from my dog-or-pass point of view, though I’m going to pass on more games than usual because of the circumstances mentioned above. Per usual, even if I don’t have a strong opinion on a game, I’ll give my pool-play strategy for those in contests that require picking every game. Otherwise, Sunday will mostly be spent reporting on — and living vicariously through — the contestants going for the big bucks!
Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) at Denver Broncos
This game was moved up to Saturday afternoon. The Chiefs still have AFC playoff seeding to play for while the Broncos are playing out the string. That has caused this line to be overinflated over a touchdown as the Chiefs were 8.5-point home favorites when they grinded out at 22-9 win in Week 13. If Teddy Bridgewater was starting for the Broncos, I would be all over that, but I made the mistake of going with the Broncos last week with Drew Lock starting and I won’t do that again.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Chiefs 55/45 in ATS contests and all SU pools).
Dallas Cowboys (-7) at Philadelphia Eagles
Here’s another game moved to Saturday when there were more appealing options. The Cowboys slipped to the No. 4 seed in the NFC with their 25-22 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday. They would like to improve their position but also might rest starters. The Eagles are unplayable as they’re locking into a wild-card berth and have COVID-19 issues that add to their incentive to rest starters for the playoffs. In a normal week, I would start the “teaser portfolio” discussion here as this looks like a good spot to use the Cowboys teased down to -1 and basically just needing to win the game. I guess I just did start the discussion, but with so many of these lines likely to be bouncing around during the week, I won’t finalize my recommended teasers until later in the week in the “Tuley’s Takes Today” column and in the NFL Best Bets file at VSiN.com.
Best Bet: Pass, except for Cowboys possibly in teasers (pool play: Cowboys 55/45 in ATS contests and all SU pools).
Green Bay Packers (-2) at Detroit Lions
This line has already bounced all over. It was Packers -11 on the advance line last week. Then, after the Packers clinched the NFC’s No. 1 seed on Sunday night and it was assumed Aaron Rodgers and several starters would sit out Week 18, several books actually made the Lions around 1.5- to 2-point favorites. However, Rodgers has since said he wants to play, so the line has flipped back to Packers -2 as of Tuesday morning. I put in a couple of teaser plays using the Lions + 8 as I think that’s the best way to play this. The Lions, despite letting us down Sunday at the Seahawks, have been competitive all season (10-6 ATS despite a 3-12-1 SU record) and I can’t imagine them not trying to end the season with a great effort against their divisional rivals. Besides, even if Rodgers plays and builds a double-digit lead, the Lions should still be in position to get a backdoor cover in the second half against the Green Bay backups. Note: if the Packers starters are definitely playing and this line goes up over a touchdown, I would also take the Lions plus the points. Again, check out “Tuley’s Takes Today” and the NFL Best Bets file later in the week.
Best Bet: Lions in teasers if dogs in + 1.5 to + 2.5 range (pool play: Lions 55/45 in ATS contests, but Packers still 80/20 in SU pools).