We hope you’re enjoying the NFL preseason as much as we are here in the Tuley’s Takes home office.
I’m sure you are if you’ve been betting Overs as they went 13-3 in Week 1 (14-3 including the Hall of Fame Game). Underdog bettors are probably also happy as dogs were 9-6 ATS this past weekend with the Dolphins-Buccaneers closing line being graded as pick-’em.
My results are pretty much in line with that at 3-2 ATS, as we went 2-1 ATS with our plays posted here in Point Spread Weekly last week (wins on the Patriots and Panthers but a bad-beat loss on the Seahawks), then I lost with a play on the Vikings on Sunday in the daily version of this column, “Tuley’s Takes Today,” at VSiN.com.
After singing the praises of betting on preseason football last week, I didn’t play on writing about it again this week, but as Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone character says in “The Godfather: Part III”: “Just when I thought I was out … they pull me back in!”
I mean, the NFL preseason games have been entertaining to watch this year (and, of course, it’s always more fun when you’re winning some wagers). These exhibition games usually resemble what we’ve seen in recent years in spring pro football leagues such as the AAF, XFL and USFL: milquetoast offenses and low-scoring games that only an Under bettor can enjoy.
In fact, I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Unders were 15-2 through this point last year. That’s why we saw an average betting total of 33.5 in Week 1 of the preseason. I was proud of myself when I took the Over 32.5 (and 30.5 when it continued to drop) in the Hall of Fame Game. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as smart this past week as I was planning to bet some Unders but felt the numbers were again shaded too low (why I didn’t bet more Overs is still a mystery to me). Anyway, at least I didn’t force any Under bets.
Our fallacy was thinking that the reduction in practice time would keep offenses from being able to function efficiently without thinking that the defenses would be impacted just as much. Add in the fact that the NFL has publicly stated that they’re cracking down on illegal contact calls, which makes it even harder for defensive backs to cover receivers, while teams are also sitting more starters, and you have a recipe for wide-open offense. As I said on “The Lookahead” show on Sunday night, it reminds me of a summer 7-on-7 “passing league” with no tackling and no pads that my high school team participated in (unsanctioned by the Illinois High School Association and coaches weren’t supposed to be present, but they set it all up and were within shouting distance). It was just that, a passing league where defense was optional. It was similar to what the Pro Bowl has become.
Of course, after seeing what we all saw, oddsmakers adjusted this week with an average betting total of 41 points (more than a touchdown higher than last week!), and Monday was a betting frenzy as early bettors jumped on totals they felt were adjusted too high or not adjusted enough. As of this writing on Tuesday morning, most of the totals have settled with an average of 40.5 points.
Let’s go through Week 2 of the preseason and try to cherry-pick the best Overs and Unders based on the current numbers and also find some live dogs.
Bears-Seahawks Over 42.5, Thursday
This game kicks off the weekend. The total opened at 41 and has been bet up to 42.5, however, I don’t believe it’s been adjusted high enough. Drew Lock continues to push Geno Smith for the Seattle starting QB job, so we expect them both to put up points in this game like they did against the Steelers. Meanwhile, the defense that the Seahawks are trotting out this preseason was unable to stop any of the Pittsburgh QBs last week, while Trevor Siemian was able to rally the Bears past the Chiefs’ backups in the second half. If the Bears use Nathan Peterman, he’s capable of putting up points as well (or throwing one of his infamous pick-sixes) to help this go Over the total.
Rams + 3 vs. Texans, Friday
The Rams opened -1.5 at DraftKings (VSiN’s parent company) and some offshore books while a couple of Las Vegas books opened the Texans -1.5. I guess the move to the Texans being favored makes sense as Rams coach Sean McVay (7-9 ATS) doesn’t appear to put too much stock in winning preseason games. However, the Texans have since been bet up to 3-point road favorites, which I think is too high even if the Rams rest all their starters. In fact, third-string QB Bryce “Who?” Perkins led the Rams to a 29-22 win over the Chargers last week. We certainly don’t expect to see Matthew Stafford, but Perkins (or second-stringer John Wolford) should be able to outperform Jeff Driskel or whoever the Texans use.
Broncos-Bills Under 42.5, Saturday
This opened at 40.5 at most books and has been bet up to 42.5. Maybe I missed the announcement that Russell Wilson and Josh Allen are starting, but even if they play they probably won’t play much. If I was on the other side of the counter, this would be one of the games I’d set below 40.
Steelers + 3.5 at Jaguars, Saturday
I feel this is my best bet of the week. As I wrote last week, Mike Tomlin takes these games seriously and he’s now 12-9 ATS (57.1%) since 2016 and 35-24 ATS (59.3%) in his preseason career. Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and Kenny Pickett all threw TD passes last week in their 29-22 win over the Seahawks and there’s no reason to think they won’t do the same against the Jaguars.
Cardinals + 6.5 or higher vs. Ravens, Sunday
We can’t write an NFL preseason column without mentioning that John Harbaugh coaches to win in the preseason and the Ravens have an NFL preseason record 21-game winning streak (18-2-1 ATS or 19-2 ATS depending on whose betting stats you follow). Bookmakers are sick of getting beat up by Baltimore backers so they set this line at Ravens -7 and early sharp money came in on the Cardinals. It’s down to 6.5 at most books, but I fully expect the public to lay whatever number they need to in order to jump on the Ravens’ preseason bandwagon when they bet this game over the weekend. Regardless, I’ll fade the overreaction at the best number I can get as I believe that even if Harbaugh tries his best to continue the straight-up winning streak, he won’t have the same motivation to cover the number.
Tuley’s Takes on MLB
We’re still continuing with our MLB First 5 Innings wagers in the daily version of this column at VSiN.com.
After going a combined 14-7-5 (+ 11.89 units) the last week of July and first week of August, we were only 6-8 this past week from last Wednesday through Monday for a net loss of 0.3 units. We got back to nearly even thanks to the Rays cashing at + 200 on Monday versus the Yankees.
We landed on that because of the trend this season to fade teams coming off of playing on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball.” I haven’t been tracking the results all season, but VSiN colleague Greg Peterson tweeted: “Teams that play on Sunday Night Baseball that have to play on Monday have to have a sub-.250 win percentage this season.”
Note: The Red Sox play at the Orioles this Sunday night, but both are off on Monday. The next time to test this trend is the following week when the Cardinals host the Braves on Sunday night and then have to travel for a Monday game in Cincinnati (the Braves are off that day).
Again, my MLB First 5 daily plays can be found each morning in the “Tuley’s Takes Today” column at VSiN.com.