Welcome to our weekly Wednesday column where we give our “takes” on the full NFL schedule.
For those new to the way I handicap, I’m a self-proclaimed “dog-or-pass” bettor, so I’m looking for the most likely dogs to cover each week. However, I also have a lot of longtime readers who bet plenty of chalk and they use this column to see which dogs I’m unable/unwilling to make a case for, and they see that as tacit approval to bet the favorite.
Contrary to the opinion of some people out there, I don’t bet every dog as I do believe there are bad dogs just like there are bad favorites.
This approach has continued to work very well so far this season as dogs are 52-37-3 ATS (58.4%) vs. my Vegas consensus closing lines with 2 games closing pick’-em (Commanders-Lions in Week 2, Titans-Commanders in Week 5). Last week, faves went 8-6 SU but faves/dogs split 7-7 ATS with the Broncos the only ATS-covering dog that didn’t win outright.
It was shaping up as an awesome Sunday as I won my first 3 Best Bets from this column on the Jets + 7.5 at the Packers, Falcons + 4.5 vs. the 49ers and Patriots + 2.5 at the Browns all not only covering but pulling outright upsets. It was setting up to be an epic day as the Panthers (+ 10 at the Rams) jumped out to an early lead, but unfortunately they couldn’t hold on as they not only lost but also failed to cover in a 24-10 loss. Then, on Sunday night, the Cowboys (+ 6.5) rallied to get within 20-17 of the Eagles but ended up losing 26-17 and failing to cover.
We did hit our top 2-team, 6-point teasers on the Saints + 8/Seahawks + 8.5 and Chiefs + 8/Seahawks + 8.5, but it could have been so much better.
We’ll try to find the same kind of live dogs this weekend. For those who don’t know, even if I don’t have an official Best Bet on a game, I still do my “pool play” strategy for those who are in contests where you have to pick every game.
And, after we’re done, we’ll end the column with our regularly scheduled recaps of Tuesday night’s betting action (including winning our Best Bets on the Phillies) and some plays for Wednesday.
New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals (-2)
After two straight Thursday night duds (the Colts’ 12-9 win at the Broncos in Week 5 and the Commanders’ 12-7 win at the Bears in Week 6), this week’s matchup at least has an intriguing storyline with DeAndre Hopkins returning from his 6-game PED suspension. The Cardinals’ offense has been woeful (ranked No. 16 at 346 yards per game) without him, especially in first halves. Arizona QB Kyler Murray is clearly better with Hopkins, but will the improvement be enough against a Saints team that needs this game just as much as the Cardinals as both teams are 2-4. As of deadline Tuesday night, it was still uncertain whether Jameis Winston would return or if Andy Dalton will get another start. Either way, the play is to tease the Saints up through the key numbers of 3 and 7. This line opened Cardinals -1.5 but has been steadily drifting higher, so tease + 2.5 up to + 8.5 if you can get it. There are several teasers to pair this with on Sunday (we’ll get to those in a bit), but for our purposes here, let’s use it with the Over 38.5 in this game.
Best Bet: 2-team, 6-point teaser on Saints + 8/Over 38.5 (pool play: Saints in all of my rare contests that use the Thursday night game).
Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys (-7)
I gave out the Lions as one of my early Best Bets for this week on “The Greg Peterson Experience” (12:15 a.m. ET/9:15 p.m. Sunday nights, or 15 minutes into the archived version). This is partly a fade of the Cowboys, who might be throwing a rusty Dak Prescott back into the starting lineup, but it’s mostly a play on the Lions, who have been golden in the underdog role (11-6 ATS last year, 3-1 ATS this year with a loss the only time they were favored vs. the Seahawks). Granted, the Lions were shut out 29-0 at the Patriots in Week 5, but we’re counting on them to have used their much-needed bye week to get back on track as Jared Goff and the Lions were the top offensive team in the league through the first four weeks of the season and are still No. 2 at 411.8 yard per game and No. 3 with 28 points per game. In addition, we picked up a nice little tidbit from our VSiN colleague Steve Makinen’s “post-bye week” column as the Lions are 7-2-1 SU and 9-1 ATS in post-bye week games since 2012.
Best Bet: Lions + 7 (pool play: Lions 67/33 in ATS contests – higher at 7.5, lower at 6.5 – though Cowboys still 70/30 in SU pools).
New York Giants at Jacksonville Jaguars (-3)
This is another early game I gave out and bet I made right away as I was stunned that the red-hot Giants (5-1 SU and ATS) were this big of an underdog against the Jaguars (2-4 SU and ATS). Well, it wasn’t too much of a surprise as that’s around where the advance line was over the summer and up through last week, but I thought the Giants’ start and especially their upsets of the Packers and Ravens the past two weeks would have this line moving toward the G-men. In fact, I’m not sure the right team is favored as the Jaguars – as improved as they are – shouldn't be the chalk as the only time they’ve been put in the favorite’s role this season was two weeks ago when they lost 13-6 to the Texans as 7-point home favorites. The only thing I feared was that I would be on a public dog, which is usually the kiss of death, but I’m pot-committed here.
Best Bet: Giants + 3 (pool play: Giants 67/33 in ATS contests – higher at 3.5, lower at 2.5 – and also taking them 60/40 in SU pools).
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-2.5)
Both teams had rough starts to the season, but the Titans (3-2 and leading the AFC South) have won three straight games while the Colts have back-to-back wins over the Broncos and Jaguars. This is an early-season rematch as these teams met just three weeks ago with Tennessee winning 24-17 at Indy, so I’m not interested in the Colts at this short number (besides, the Titans are 6-0 SU and 5-0-1 ATS in their last six post-bye week games), but I do like them as a teaser play as this should be another one-score game. This is a great spot to discuss the other “advantage” or “Wong” teasers that capture the key numbers of 3 and 7: Jets teased up from + 1.5 to + 7.5 at the Broncos and the Patriots teased down from -8 to -2 vs. the Bears. As a dog bettor, I usually prefer teasing the short dogs up over a TD, but will probably play this with both. Note: some people also like to tease 6- and 7-point favorites down to around pick-’em, but those have been burning money this year and I don’t like many of those options this week.
Best Bet: 2-team, 6-point teaser on Colts + 8.5/Jets + 7.5 at Broncos, plus other teasers (pool play: Colts 55/45 in ATS contests, but Titans 55/45 in SU pools).
Atlanta Falcons at Cincinnati Bengals (-6)
Predicted by many to be the worst team in the league, the Falcons are the biggest overachieving team of the season so far as they’re 6-0 ATS and the last undefeated team vs. the spread after upsetting the 49ers 28-14 on Sunday. With a hodge-podge of RBs and WRs, Marcus Mariota has had the Falcons in every game as they’ve also upset the Browns and Seahawks while covering in losses to the Saints, Rams and Buccaneers. The Bengals have been battling the “Super Bowl loser hangover” since the start of the season with an 0-2 start but are now tied for first in the AFC North with the Ravens at 3-3. I’m still willing to fade them as they’re still not playing as well as they did last year. And I’m going to stick with the Falcons as long as their run lasts.
Best Bet: Falcons + 6 (pool play: Falcons 60/40 in ATS contests, though Bengals still 67/33 in SU pools).
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-6.5)
It’s almost inconceivable how the Ravens have suffered their three losses this season. They blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of a 24-20 loss at the Giants on Sunday. The collapse wasn’t as extreme as their losses to the Dolphins and Bills, but it was still not what we expect from coach John Harbaugh or Lamar Jackson. Still, I can’t pull the trigger on the Browns, who keep doing Browns things as they also blew a big lead to the Jets in Week 2 and then have squandered a 2-1 with three straight losses to the Falcons, Chargers and Dolphins.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Browns 55/45 in ATS contests on principle, but Ravens 80/20 in SU contests).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-11) at Carolina Panthers
This was my third early recommendation of the week when the Panthers opened as 10-point home dogs vs the Buccaneers, though I did add the caveat that I was waiting to bet it as we felt this line would go higher. And sure enough, even though the Bucs haven’t been as strong as expected (some blame Tom Brady’s marital distractions, some say his age is finally catching up to him), this line has been bet up to 10.5 at all books and up to 11 at DraftKings and other books as of early Wednesday. I get it, as most people are betting against the dysfunctional Panthers, who fired coach Matt Ruhle and then lost 24-10 to the Rams on Sunday with WR Robbie Anderson being kicked off the sideline. However, as ugly as that non-cover ended up being (and I was on the Panthers + 10), I still saw enough from them taking a 10-7 lead into the locker-room that they can still stay in games. Besides, the Bucs are just 3-3 SU and 2-4 ATS with four straight non-covers. I’ll have to plug my nose, but give me the ugly double-digit home dog.
Best Bet: Panthers + 11 (pool play: Panthers 67/33 in ATS contests, but Buccaneers still 75/25 in SU pools).
Green Bay Packers (-5.5) at Washington Commanders
Speaking of ugly dogs … but I’m going to pass on this one, even though we’ve successfully faded the Packers the last three weeks with the Patriots, Giants and Jets. But we have to think Aaron Rodgers is going to bounce back at some point this season, and this seems like a good spot, even though I am intrigued by the underrated Taylor Heinicke starting in place of the injured Carson Wentz. Frankly, I don’t want to spend too much time on this game as I fear I might talk myself into the dog. This number is too short for me to do that, though I guess check my daily columns later in the week as I might change my mind if the public bets this line higher.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Packers 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
New York Jets at Denver Broncos (-1.5)
This is a game of two teams that look like they’re heading in opposite directions. With the offseason acquisition of Russell Wilson, the Broncos were expected to be right in the mix of a seemingly strong top-to-bottom AFC West), but instead they’re 2-4 with two uninspiring wins (16-9 over the Texans in Week 2 and 11-10 over the 49ers in Week 3) and dead-last in scoring offense at a mere 15.2 points per game. Meanwhile, the J-e-t-s, Jets, Jets, Jets are soaring higher than anyone expected at 4-2. They got a lift from veteran Joe Flacco when Zach Wilson wasn’t able to start the season, and Wilson has kept the momentum with three straight upsets of the Steelers, Dolphins and Packers. The advance line for this game was as high as Broncos -7.5, but oddsmakers and bettors have been adjusting their power ratings on both of these teams so much that the game reopened at Broncos between -3 and -3.5 at most books. As of deadline, Wilson had an MRI on an injured hamstring and is considered day-to-day, so this line has dropped to Broncos -1.5, which puts it in prime teaser territory.
Best Bet: Jets in teasers, led by Colts + 8.5/Jets + 7.5 (pool play: Jets 55/45 in ATS contests, but Broncos still 55/45 in SU pools unless Wilson is out).
Houston Texans at Las Vegas Raiders (-7)
Why are the Raiders (1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS) favored by a full touchdown? OK, I know it’s because they’re facing the Texans, who are 1-3-1 SU, but not many people realize that they're 3-1-1 ATS with a tie/cover vs. the Colts and a cover in their loss at the Broncos before upsetting the Jaguars 13-6 prior to their bye week. So, are they really that much worse? I say “no” and will take the inflated line. The Raiders’ lone win/cover was a 9-point win over the Broncos (which, again, the Texans also covered against) and they failed to cover in a loss to the Chargers just like the Texans did. In addition, the Texans are 8-3 SU and 7-4 ATS in their last 11 post-bye week games while the Raiders are on a 0-5 SU and ATS skid in post-bye week games, so we’re counting on the Texans to come out of their bye week stronger (or at least keep this within one score).
Best Bet: Texans + 7 (pool play: Texans 67/33 in ATS contests, but Raiders still around 67/33 in SU pools).
Kansas City Chiefs (-3) at San Francisco 49ers
This should be one of the most entertaining games on Sunday, but I’m not sure I’ll have a wager on it. The line is a little short for me to get involved on the 49ers, even as a home underdog (I’ll probably bite if the public bets it up to 3.5 by the weekend). The 49ers are a pretty complete team with Jimmy Garoppolo taking over for Trey Lance, but they’re still only 3-3 after losing at the Falcons on Sunday. The Chiefs are also still one of the top teams in the league despite losses to the Colts and Bills, certainly no shame in the latter.
Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: 49ers 55/45 in ATS contests – higher at 3.5, lower at 2.5 – but Chiefs around 67/33 in SU pools).
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5)
We saw advance lines on this game of around Chargers -8, so we’ve lost some value, but I believe the adjustment is warranted and I’m still willing to back the underdog Seahawks. Geno Smith has filled in just fine for the departed Russell Wilson and Seattle ranked No. 12 in total offense with 356 yards per game (not too far behind the No. 7 Chargers at 374.8 ypg). The Seahawks are 3-3 – tied for first in the NFC West with the Rams and 49ers – with upsets of the Broncos, Lions and Cardinals. The Chargers are 4-2 – tied for first in the AFC West with the Chiefs – but just 3-3 ATS as they’re historically not good in the favorite’s role. We saw that again in their 19-16 OT win vs. the Broncos on Monday night as 4-point home favorites. The Seahawks should keep this close with a shot at the outright upset.
Best Bet: Seahawks + 6.5 (pool play: Seahawks 67/33 in ATS contests, though Chargers still around 67/33 in SU pools).
Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins (-7)
This isn’t quite the marquee matchup that we’ve been getting most Sunday nights this season, but it’s still an interesting one to handicap (and it’s a standalone game so we’ll all be watching regardless). The Steelers are coming in off a stunning 20-18 upset of the Buccaneers as 9.5-point road underdogs. The Steelers are still only 2-4 and rank No, 29 in both total offense and total defense. The Dolphins, who are expected to get Tua Tagovailoa back for this game, are 3-3 with back-to-back losses to the Jets and Vikings, but the offense still ranks No. 8 at 366.2 yards per game despite the QB carousel of Tagovailoa, Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson. As of deadline, DraftKings had the Dolphins at -7 -115. We’ll see if the public pushes it to 7.5, where the sharps would probably buy back on the underdog Steelers (and I would be tempted to do so as well).
Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Steelers 55/45 in ATS contests – higher at 7.5, lower at 6.5 – but Dolphins around 75/25 in SU pools).
Chicago Bears at New England Patriots (-8)
The Bailey Zappe hype machine continues as this line has been bet from -7 to -8. I bet Zappe plenty at Western Kentucky, and in the preseason, so I’m glad to see him get a shot and causing a bit of a QB controversy in New England. There are plenty of bettors also willing to fade the Bears, so I advise readers wanting to include the Patriots in some 2-team, 6-point teasers to bet them ASAP before the line steams even higher (note: some books will artificially inflate favorites in this range up to -9 or -9.5 in an attempt to discourage teasers). The Bears’ offense (ranked No. 28th in the league) isn’t much of a threat to keep up with the Patriots, who just shut out the Lions two weeks ago.
Best Bet: Pass, except for Patriots anchoring teasers (pool play: Patriots 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 85/15 in SU pools).
And here’s an abbreviated regular version of our daily column as we recap Tuesday’s betting action (we won our Best Bet on the Phillies 1st 5 + 100 money line) and give our Best Bets for Wednesday.
MLB: Phillies (+ 107 road underdogs) beat the Padres 2-0 on homers by Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber in Game 1 of the NLCS (game stayed way Under the betting total of 6.5 runs). Overall in the MLB playoffs, dogs lead 14-11 with 1 game closing pick-’em. Home teams dipped to 14-12. Unders took 13-12-1 lead.
Earlier Tuesday, the Yankees (-167 home favorites) beat the Guardians 5-1 in Game 5 of their ALDS to advance to the ALCS vs. the Astros (this game stayed Under 7 runs). Faves/dogs split 8-8 in the LDS round. Home teams led 11-5 in the round while Overs led 8-7-1. See above for the updated overall betting stats.
NBA: Home favorites went 2-0 SU and ATS on opening night as the Celtics (3-point home faves) beat the 76ers 126-117 (game flew Over the betting total of 216.5 points) and the defending champion Warriors (7.5-point home faves) beat the Lakers 123-109 (went Over 223.5). Overs also started the season 2-0.
NHL: Faves went 4-3 Tuesday with Canucks-Blue Jackets closing pick-’em. The upsets were by the Flyers (+ 245 at Lightning), Sabres (+ 195 at Oilers) and Kings (+ 150 at Predators). Home teams went 5-3. Over/Unders split 4-4. On the season, faves lead 35-19 with 1 PK, home teams lead 32-21 with 2 neutral-site games in Prague and Overs lead 30-24-1.
NFL (ICYMI): Faves went 8-6 SU in Week 6, but split 7-7 ATS (Broncos covering on MNF was only ATS winning dog to not win outright). Faves lead 54-37-1 SU on the season with 2 pick-’ems (Commanders-Lions in Week 2, Titans-Commanders in Week 5), but dogs lead 52-37-3 ATS (58.4%). Home teams went 8-6 SU and 7-7 ATS in Week 6 and lead 49-42-1 SU, but road teams lead 47-42-3 ATS (52.8%). Unders went 10-4 in Week 6 and climbed back over 60% at 56-37-1 (60.2%) while primetime Unders went 2-1 and are 13-6 (68.4%) on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights.
Georgia State + 10 at Appalachian State: Hey, we get a mid-week college football play and it’s not MACtion! I’m not totally crazy about backing Georgia State (2-4, 2-3-1 ATS) as its defense allows 33.3 points and 438.3 yards per game. However, the Panthers’ offense has gotten on track in two straight wins, averages 234.3 yards per game and can keep them in this game. Appalachian State (3-3, 2-4 ATS) has had an up-and-down season (losing 63-61 to North Carolina, upsetting Texas A&M as an 18-point dog, losing to James Madison, routing FCS The Citadel but then losing 36-24 to Texas State as 19-point favorite. I agree App State should still be favored, but not by more than a touchdown. It appears this is just the oddsmakers inflating the line on the “name school.” The Mountaineers have won 8 of their last 10 home games, so that could be another reason, but they’re 1-5 ATS in their last six home games, so gimme the points.
Phillies 1st 5 + 100 at Padres: We won with our Tuesday Best Bet on the Phillies 1st 5 + 100 as they led 1-0 on Bryce Harper’s 4th-inning homer. My other favorite player, Kyle Schwarber, also homered off Yu Darvish as the Phillies won 2-0 in the NLCS opener as + 107 dogs. We’ll back them again in the 1st 5 with Aaron Nola taking on Blake Snell. I’ll pass on the Yankees in Game 1 at the Astros coming off their 5-game series and having to travel to play Game 1 without a day off (but especially with Jameson Taillon vs. Justin Verlander).