Sportsbooks reported that NFL Week 6 was their best result this season, and as contrarian dog-or-pass bettors who usually need the same sides as the books, it was also a great weekend for us here in the Tuley’s Takes home office.
Underdogs went 9-5 ATS in Week 6 and are now 47-40-2 ATS on the season, with two games closing pick-’em. We know there are some other ATS results out there, but longtime followers know we base our betting stats on my ViewFromVegas Consensus Closing Lines that I get from the closing lines (note: Cardinals closed as one-point underdogs on “MNF”) of the 10 Vegas books on the Don Best odds screen. I know many people get different lines on games, so the numbers don’t always match, but I believe it’s the fairest way to grade results after input from everyone — oddsmakers, bookmakers, wise guys, the public and sharp late action. Most discrepancies in records will come from games I graded closing as pick-’em or when favorites have changed.
For the record, I have road teams at 50-39-2 ATS, so home field is still not all it’s cracked up to be compared with when we had full stadiums.
After scoring was at an all-time high and Overs were the way to go early in the season, we saw oddsmakers adjust with higher totals. Week 6 brought the reversal, with Unders going 10-4, though Overs still lead 47-42-2.
For our individual plays, our picks here last week went 5-2 with wins on the Falcons (and the Over), Eagles, 49ers and Broncos but losses on the Jaguars and Browns to improve to 25-20. This doesn’t include our continuing success with recommendations for adding a teaser portfolio each week. Our Sunday plays went 4-1 last week with the Patriots -2.5 the only losers — and we weren’t too upset with that, as we were all over the Broncos at + 8.5 and rebet them when the line went to + 10 later in the week and used in all our contests.
Last week also worked out well in the MLB playoffs. I hope readers were with us in taking the Dodgers around + 195 after they fell behind 2-0 to the Braves in the NLCS. You also could have gotten around + 350 (odds of 7-2) if you had parlayed the Dodgers’ moneylines game to game when they trailed 3-1.
I didn’t do a separate World Series betting preview, as I’m still not fading the Dodgers after much success going against them in previous postseasons. I certainly respect the Rays and wouldn’t be surprised if they win a game or two at decent odds, but I’m not confident they can do it enough to turn a profit.
OK, let’s get to this week’s card, with lines being the consensus of Vegas books as of Tuesday afternoon. As regular readers know, if I don’t recommend an actual wager, 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.
Giants at Eagles (-3.5)
Joke all you want about the NFC Least, but the Eagles are just a half-game behind the Cowboys and the Giants are just one game out. The Giants are tempting at + 3.5 with the hook, as they’ve been more competitive than expected in their losses to the Bears, Rams and Cowboys. But I still think the Eagles are the right side and picked them on the VSiN NFL Consensus page. However, I’m not laying the points with actual cash. The better bet is probably the Under. Hopefully everyone grabbed Under 44, as that was the play and it looks like it’s understandably being bet down. Best Bet: Under 43.5 (pool play: Eagles on all my rare contests that use “TNF”).
Steelers (-2) at Titans
This is actually a write-in game at the bottom of the betting rotation due to the NFL’s reshuffling of the schedule, but I’m leading off the Sunday games with it as we’re getting a lot of positive feedback with our recommendation of having a weekly teaser portfolio — and this fills the bill. Both teams are playing well and I have this as a toss-up, but that makes it a prime candidate to tease the Titans up to + 8. Several other games this week could be teased to catch the key numbers of 3 and 7, so mix and match based on your own handicapping: Washington up to + 7.5, Lions up to + 8.5, Saints down to -1.5, 49ers up to + 8.5, Chargers down to -2, Raiders up to + 8.5. Best Bet: Pass, except for teasing Titans (pool play: Titans in slightly more ATS contests and Steelers in slightly more SU pools, but seriously as close to 50/50 as I come on any game).
Browns (-3.5) at Bengals
I heard a lot of people throwing the Browns on the trash heap after their 38-7 loss to the Steelers. But I remember hearing the same thing after their 38-6 loss to the Ravens in Week 1, and then they won four straight. The Browns are the No. 3 team in the AFC North but still are playoff contenders. Having said all that, I wouldn’t lay more than a field goal here and, in fact, like the Bengals in this spot. The Bengals covered in the teams’ Week 2 meeting with a 35-30 loss at Cleveland, and even though I’m trying not to put much stock into home-field advantage, I like the Bengals to be able to stay even closer (with a field goal, please) at home. Best Bet: Bengals + 3.5 (pool play: Bengals in all ATS contests as long as getting + 3.5, slightly lower if getting fewer points, though Browns still around 55/45 in SU pools).
Cowboys (-1.5) at Washington
How many people are shocked that this line is so short? But should we really be surprised after the Cowboys were run over by the Cardinals on Monday night? However, the Washington offense is not comparable to Arizona’s, so I can’t pull the trigger (and this is probably my least-preferred teaser option). Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Cowboys around 67/33 in all SU and ATS contests).
Lions at Falcons (-2.5)
Here’s yet another game priced right around a field goal — great for teaser purposes, though hard to pick SU and ATS. The Lions look like a popular underdog play after coming off their bye and routing the Jaguars, plus the public remembers their earlier close calls. However, the Falcons got into the win column with their 40-23 victory over the Vikings, and are we really ready to say the Lions are better than the Vikings? Best Bet: Pass, except for Lions teaser (pool play: Lions around 55/45 in ATS contests — higher if + 3.5 were to be offered — but Falcons around 60/40 in SU pools).
Panthers at Saints (-7.5)
The Panthers’ three-game winning streak was snapped with their 23-16 loss to the Bears, but I expect them, especially the offense, to fare better against a New Orleans team that has let lesser teams stick around. So getting more than a TD is too hard to resist. This looks like an example of the Saints being given too many points for home-field advantage, and while they looked their best in their Week 1 home win over the Buccaneers, they lost to the Packers 37-30 in Week 3 and then won but didn’t cover as seven-point home faves vs. the Chargers in Week 5 the last time we saw them. I expect a similar result. Best Bet: Panthers + 7.5 (pool play: Panthers 75/25 in ATS contests — especially if getting + 7.5 — though Saints still around 67/33 in SU pools).
Bills (-13) at Jets
The Bills were -10 on the advance line for this game last week. Despite the Bills losing to the Chiefs on Monday, it reopened around -11 and was bet up to -13 early Tuesday. That shows you how bad the Jets are and how quickly everyone is looking to bet against them. I’m usually a sucker for double-digit home underdogs, but this could be the expectation. However, even if I do eventually give in, I’m certainly not going on record now at + 13, as this line is very likely going to two full TDs. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Jets around 67/33 in ATS contests based primarily on principle and being contrarian, but Bills in all SU pools).
Packers (-3.5) at Texans
This is one of Week 7’s most intriguing matchups. Which Packers team will show up after looking so bad in a 38-10 loss to the Buccaneers? Can J.J. Watt and the Texans pressure Aaron Rodgers constantly like the Bucs did? If so, they have a shot — though you’d also have to trust interim coach Romeo Crennel to make sound in-game decisions. The Texans are outside my top contest picks I’m considering this week, but I can’t quite pull the trigger. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Texans around 55/45 in ATS contests, though Packers still 70/30 in SU pools).
Seahawks (-3.5) at Cardinals
Don’t call me a bandwagon jumper on the Cardinals, as I have bets on them to win the NFC West and the NFC from April, when I gave them out here and on VSiN. This is obviously a key game for them to make a serious run at the division, but they have a great shot at the minor upset. The Seahawks are 5-0 but have a knack of being involved in close games, which helps with us getting more than a field goal. Best Bet: Cardinals + 3.5 (pool play: Cardinals around 75/25 in ATS contests, through Seahawks still in slightly more SU pools around 55/45).
49ers at Patriots (-2.5)
These are two more candidates for the “which team will show up?” debate. The Patriots’ losses to the Seahawks and Chiefs were understandable, but the 18-12 loss to the Broncos was much more shocking (though we loved the Broncos plus the points). We’re also left to wonder if the 49ers got back on track with their 24-16 win over the Rams. This is another coin-flip result for me, which again lends itself to including with our teasers. Best Bet: Pass, except for teasing 49ers (pool play: 49ers around 55/45 in ATS contests, though flip to Patriots 55/45 in SU pools).
Chiefs (-9.5) at Broncos
This line is on the rise after everyone watched the Chiefs pull away to cover against the Bills on Monday. However, I contend that the market is really starting to overvalue the Chiefs, as hard as that is to believe. The Broncos certainly stepped up in shutting down the Patriots, and I’ve been equally impressed with how they stuck around in earlier losses to the Titans and Steelers, which look better with each passing week. I’ll go on record with a best bet at the current number, though certainly waiting to see how high this will get bet. Best Bet: Broncos + 9.5 (pool play: Broncos 75/25 in ATS contests, though Chiefs still around 80/20 in SU pools).
Jaguars at Chargers (-8)
The last time we saw the Chargers, they were covering as seven-point road underdogs in a 30-27 loss at the Saints, and now they’re laying more points than that. I certainly don’t recommend betting chalk with teams in this situation, but I’m not willing to jump in on the Jaguars, who look like they’re getting worse each week. You know where we’re going with this ... Best Bet: Pass, except for teasing Chargers (pool play: Chargers in slightly more ATS pools, around 55/45, and closer to 90/10 in SU pools).
Buccaneers (-2.5) at Raiders
My initial thought is to take the Raiders as home underdogs, especially after their impressive 40-32 upset at Kansas City two weeks ago. But I can’t help feeling this line is too short after watching the Buccaneers’ even more impressive dismantling of the Packers. It appears this is yet another game that’s better off teased. Best Bet: Pass, except for Raiders teaser (pool play: Raiders in slightly more ATS contests — though higher if a commissioner goes with + 3.5 — but flip to Buccaneers 60/40 in SU pools).
Bears at Rams (-5.5)
The consensus is that the 5-1 Bears are doing it with mirrors, but at some point maybe we have to admit that the Bears are better than they’re being given credit for. I’m not totally sold on them, but they keep getting the job done on both sides of the ball. The Rams’ best effort should handle the Bears, but we’ve seen that they don’t always bring their best (first half at Bills, whole game vs. Giants and last week at 49ers). Best Bet: Bears + 5.5 (pool play: Bears 70/30 in ATS contests, but Rams around 75/25 in SU pools).