Underdogs were the way to go again in NFL Week 8. They were 10-4 ATS with seven outright upsets, which is always good news here in the Tuley’s Takes home office.
We went a kind-of disappointing 5-3 with our best bets in “Point Spread Weekly,” including a loss on Over 49 in the Eagles-Panthers game, so a more respectable 5-2 with ATS picks. And we were 4-1 in Circa Sports Million and the SuperContest, with the Jets + 19.5/+ 20 being the one dog that came up short on more of our cards.
As a dog-or-pass bettor, I should be doing well when dogs are barking, and they are 65-49-2 ATS (57%) with three pick-’ems on the season. That’s reflected in my Tuley’s Takes best bets, which are 34-25 (57%), again including a handful of Over/Unders. So do I recommend betting every dog in the NFL? Absolutely not! In fact, when dogs are performing at such a high level, I actually think we have to be even more selective. These trends tend to even out over time, so a chalky correction is probably coming. The good news is that oddsmakers aren’t as inclined to drastically shade the odds like they did earlier this year, when Overs got off to a hot start, or when favorites go on a run. But I’m still passing in some cases this week because it seems like they’re setting the lines a little too short.
As always, we take each game on a case-by-case basis as we go through the weekly 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 in contests where we have to make a pick on every game with my degree of confidence for both SU and ATS pools.
I’m not doing as well with my college picks this year on the VSiN CFB Consensus and VSiN CFB Best Bets pages, but I am excited with MACtion finally debuting Wednesday night with all six openers on the same night. The game I’m looking forward to the most is Ball State + 2 at Miami (Ohio), as BSU was my dark-horse MAC pick in the VSiN CFB Betting Guide. This isn’t a must-win against the defending conference champion, but it’ll be a great test to see if the Cardinals can live up to my expectations. Also, this is Breeders’ Cup week, so look for our “Tuley’s Thoroughbred Takes” column with me and my stable of handicapping friends giving our picks Friday and Saturday at VSiN.com/horses, with links in the VSiN daily newsletter.
Packers (-5.5) at 49ers
This line has gone from pick’-em on last week’s advance line to Packers -2.5 with Sunday’s reopening of the lines to -5.5 as of Tuesday afternoon (and even -6 at South Point and Caesars). Most of the focus is on the 49ers’ M*A*S*H* unit headlined by QB Jimmy Garoppolo and TE George Kittle. Everyone seems to think the Packers are the right side here, even though they have a depleted backfield of their own. But when I handicap this game, I keep going back to last season, when the 49ers ran over the Packers 37-8 and 37-20. After watching Dalvin Cook run through the Green Bay defense last week, I see no reason the 49ers won’t do the same thing, no matter who’s in their backfield. Best Bet: 49ers + 5.5, though get + 6 if you can (pool play: 49ers in all my rare SU and ATS contests that use the Thursday night game).
Seahawks (-3 + 100) at Bills
Here’s the first of those games I alluded to in which the line comes up too short for me to take the underdog. The Bills should be the play here as live home dogs, but I can’t pull the trigger at + 3 -120 — and some books are at + 2.5. This does, however, make for a good spot to include our weekly recommendation for including some teasers to our betting portfolios. Our teaser plays didn’t fare too well last week, with the Falcons and Raiders winning but the Lions and Packers losing. Anyway, the Bills + 8.5 or + 9 look good as the Seahawks tend to play close games, and we also suggest mixing and matching them with the Colts + 8.5 vs. the Ravens, Texans -1 at Jaguars, Giants + 9 at Washington, Raiders + 7.5 at Chargers and Patriots -1.5 vs. Jets. Best Bet: Pass, except for Bills in teasers (pool play: Seahawks 60/40 in ATS contests — though flip to Bills if offered + 3.5 — and Seahawks 75/25 in SU pools).
Broncos at Falcons (-4)
It wasn’t pretty, but the Broncos came through for us Sunday vs. the Chargers. They’ve been competitive all year at 5-2 ATS with a defense that keeps them in games, and Drew Lock has been serviceable with Phillip Lindsay adding a spark to the running game. The Falcons got a much-needed win against the Panthers on Thursday, but I have no problem fading them here as their defense should make the Broncos look even better. Best Bet: Broncos + 4 (pool play: Broncos 80/20 in ATS contests and even 67/33 in SU pools as I’ll take stand).
Bears at Titans (-5.5)
The Bears are 5-3 SU and ATS despite back-to-back SU losses to the Rams and Saints, but it surprises me that people are knocking them so much. I mean, they lost by just a field goal to the Saints and have beaten the Buccaneers, supposedly the best team in the NFC. The Titans are coming off an embarrassing 31-20 loss to the Bengals, so a lot of people are looking for them to rebound and run over the Bears. I’m not so sure. The Titans tend to let teams stick around and play games that come down to field goals, so I’m on the Bears here — though I don’t like them enough to include on the VSiN NFL Best Bets page and probably won’t use them in the big contests unless the lines drifts higher. Best Bet: Bears + 5.5 (pool play: Bears 60/40 in ATS contests, but Titans still 67/33 in SU pools).
Lions at Vikings (-4)
Last week’s advance line for this game was Vikings -2.5, but then Dalvin Cook ran over the Packers and it crossed the key number to -3.5 and now is -4. The Lions got routed by the Colts in the fourth quarter Sunday, but if you throw out that performance, they’ve been playing better than the Vikings this season. So, thanks to recency bias, we’re getting more than a field goal in a game that should be much closer to pick’-em. Best Bet: Lions + 4 (pool play: Lions 75/25 in ATS contests, and I’ll even go with them in slightly more than 50/50 of SU pools).
Ravens (-2.5) at Colts
Early sharp bettors have snapped up the Colts + 3 lines that were available, so good for them. However, I’m not so sure that the line wasn’t too short anyway. I’m still not sold on the Colts or their defense, and they’re facing their biggest test of the season so far in the Ravens. The line is definitely too short at + 2.5, but I won’t talk anyone out of teasing the Colts up to + 8.5, though it’s not my favorite play on that list. Best Bet: Pass, except perhaps teasing the Colts (pool play: Ravens 75/25 in ATS contests and all SU pools).
Panthers at Chiefs (-11)
OK, so I took the loss with the Jets + 20 against the Chiefs on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to try to fade them again. This week we get a Carolina team with a much more potent offense than the Jets brought to the table. I’m still not sold on the Chiefs’ defense now that they’re facing a better offense, so this should be a shootout. We just need the Panthers to keep within a TD and a FG. Best Bet: Panthers + 11 (pool play: Panthers 80/20 in ATS contests, though Chiefs around 75/25 in SU pools but with some taking a flier on Carolina).
Texans (-6.5) at Jaguars
Gardner Minshew is out with fractures in his right thumb, so the Jaguars will start Jake Luton, a sixth-round pick from Oregon State. I would have considered the Jaguars with Mike Glennon but have to pass with Luton making his first start for one of the worst teams in the league. It wouldn’t take much convincing to fade the Texans (1-6 SU and ATS), but this line is too short. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Texans 60/40 in ATS contests and closer to 90/10 in SU pools).
Giants at Washington (-3)
The Giants fell to 1-6 with their 25-23 loss to the Buccaneers on “Monday Night Football,” and I heard people knocking them Tuesday, which I found surprising as I was happy with them covering as 12.5-point underdogs. Yes, Daniel Jones missed a ton of receivers and the defense doesn’t scare anyone, but they continue to exceed my expectations at 5-3 ATS. These teams just met three weeks ago, with Giants winning 20-19, though they needed a scoop-and-score fumble return and had to hold on by stopping a late two-point conversion attempt. Best Bet: Giants + 3 (pool play: Giants 67/33 in ATS contests — higher if offered + 3.5 — and slightly more in SU pools).
Raiders at Chargers (-1.5)
Here’s yet another one of those games in which I feel the line is just too short to bet the underdog. The Chargers are heading in the right direction with rookie QB Justin Herbert, but the Raiders are still probably the right side. However, I’ll use the Raiders teased up to + 7.5 just in case they lose by a FG or TD. Best Bet: Pass, except Raiders in teasers (pool play: Raiders 55/45 in ATS contests, but Chargers 55/45 in SU pools).
Steelers (-13.5) at Cowboys
This game was off the board last week and early this week with the uncertain status of Dallas QB Andy Dalton. He was declared out after being placed on the COVID-19 list Tuesday, and the Steelers were made 13.5-point road favorites. I love home underdogs (5-1 ATS last week) and especially double-digit home dogs, but dare I say this is another line that is actually too short with the Cowboys’ terrible defense and an offense looking lost with third-string QB Ben DiNucci. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Cowboys 55/45 in ATS contests just on principle, but Steelers in all SU pools).
Dolphins at Cardinals (-4.5)
The Dolphins have been a great team to bet on this year at 5-2 ATS (mostly with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB) and then blew out the Rams 28-17 in Tua Tagovailoa’s first start Sunday. But Tua didn’t show much as the Dolphins romped more because of a defensive TD and a punt return for another TD than anything he did. I’m not confident enough in the Dolphins to keep up with the Cardinals’ offense, so I include this in the list of lines that are short. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Cardinals 60/40 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Saints at Buccaneers (-5.5)
I grabbed the Saints + 6 but still feel they’re the right side at + 5.5 in the rematch of the season opener that the Saints won 34-23 and looked like the best team in the NFC. Now most people are giving the Buccaneers that title as they’ve won six of their last seven. However, I don’t think I need to point out that the Saints also beat the Bears, who dealt the Bucs their only other loss. OK, I know the Buccaneers beat the two teams that have beaten the Saints (the Packers and Raiders), so I’ll grant that to those on the other side. But all things considered, I believe there’s a ton of value in getting the Saints at anything more than a field goal. Best Bet: Saints + 5.5 (pool play: Saints 75/25 in ATS contests, and I’ll take a stand at 60/40 in SU pools).
Patriots (-7) at Jets
This wasn’t the most appealing “Monday Night Football” matchup before the season began, and it looks even worse now with the Patriots at 2-5 and the Jets at 0-8. The Patriots came through for us Sunday in covering as 4.5-point underdogs in their 24-21 loss to the Bills, but I wouldn’t be opposed to fading them here laying a full touchdown on the road. But then I’d have to be trusting a Jets team that has scored only 19 points over their last three games and just 29 over their last four. As poorly as the Patriots have been playing, they should still be able to beat the Jets by more than a TD. Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Patriots 67/33 in ATS contests -- less if laying 7.5 -- and all SU pools).