Thursday was a hectic day in Tuley’s Takes home office, which is fairly common.
During September, it’s a day that's often accompanied by some day baseball, but we didn’t have that this Thursday, so we mostly spent it editing conference previews for VSiN's upcoming CBB Betting Guide. We assume most of you have used VSiN’s NHL and NBA Betting Guides to prepare for the current seasons, but if you think those were comprehensive (and they both were thanks to our colleagues Andy MacNeil and Jonathan Von Tobel), remember that there are more than 300 CBB teams in Division I (more than 10 times the number of teams in the NBA). So definitely check it out when it gets released.
As for sports that are currently in season, I won my Best Bet Thursday on a 2-team, 6-point teaser on the Ravens + 8/Over 40 in the Ravens’ 27-22 win at the Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football. Actually, I won two Best Bets on the game as my original Best Bet in my Wednesday column in which I gave my “takes” on the full NFL Week 8 card was Buccaneers + 7.5/Over 39.5 as that was available late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, For those who bet that (or something similar) before the line moved to favoritism on the Buccaneers, I wrote in yesterday’s column that they could shoot for a middle with the Ravens – and both cashed in the Ravens’ 5-point win.
Let’s recap the rest of Thursday’s betting action and then look for plays on Friday with the World Series finally starting and a couple of college football games. Then, as has become our custom here this season, we’ll rerun our Wednesday column in which we give our “takes” on the full NFL Week 8 card, including updates based on how the lines are moving.
CFB: No. 14 Utah (7.5-point road favorite) held off Washington State 21-17 late Thursday, but did NOT cover the spread (game stayed way Under betting total of 56.5 points). Earlier, No. 24 North Carolina State (12.5-point home fave) beat Virginia Tech 22-21 but also didn't cover (game went Over low total of 39).
NBA: Faves went 3-1 SU and ATS Thursday (after going 9-0 SU and 6-3 ATS on Wednesday). The night’s only upset was by the Thunder (+ 7 in 118-110 win vs. Clippers). Mavericks (-2.5 in 129-135 win at Nets), Warriors (-6 in 123-110 win vs. Heat) and Grizzlies (-2.5 in 125-110 win at Kings) covered in their wins. Home/road teams split 2-2 SU and ATS. Overs went 3-1.
More NBA: Faves improved to 46-21 SU on the regular season with 2 pick-’ems, while dogs still lead 32-30-5 ATS (51.6%). Home teams lead 41-28 SU and 33-31-5 ATS (51.6%). Overs took a 34-32-3 (51.5%) lead.
NHL: Faves/dogs split 5-5 Thursday with upsets by the Sharks (+ 190 in 4-3 OT win vs. Maple Leafs), Flyers (+ 175 vs. Panthers), Canadiens (+ 160 at Sabres), Jets (+ 125 at Kings) and Canucks (+ 105 at Kraken). Home/road teams also split 5-5. Overs led 6-4. Faves lead 70-44 on the season with 6 pick-’ems. Home teams lead 67-51 with 2 neutral-site games. Unders' lead dipped to 60-59-1.
Phillies 1st 5 + 0.5 -115 at Astros: In picking the Phillies vs. the Padres in the NLCS, we mentioned that former Cub Kyle Schwarber and Las Vegas native Bryce Harper are two of my favorite players. We’re backing them again in the World Series and don’t mind facing Justin Verlander in Game 1 as we’ll take the lefty-vs.-righty advantage. Besides, Philadelphia starting pitcher Aaron Nola might have a 13-14 record compared to 19-4 for Velander, but Nola has a 0.97 WHIP, which compares favorably vs. Verlander’s 0.86. So, we see a low-scoring first 5 innings and like that we only have to lay -115 to get the + 0,5 in case the game is tied after 5. We’re also taking the Phillies + 170 to win the series,
East Carolina + 3 at BYU: This BYU team isn’t as strong as they’ve had in recent years, so we’ll take the points with an underrated ECU (5-2 SU and ATS) team that covered vs. a ranked North Carolina State in a 21-20 loss in the season-opener and also upset Central Florida 34-14 last Saturday as a 5.5-point underdog,
And here's the rerun of our "takes" on the full NFL Week 8 card:
Welcome to our weekly Wednesday column where we give our “takes” on the full NFL schedule.
Our “dog-or-pass” approach has worked well so far this season thanks to dogs going 59-44-3 ATS (57.3%). We went 3-3 ATS with our Best Bets in Week 7 with wins on the Giants + 3 at the Jaguars, Buccaneers + 13 vs. the Buccaneers and Seahawks + 5 at the Chargers as all three not only covered but pulled outright upsets. We lost on the Lions + 7 at the Cowboys, Falcons + 6.5 at the Bengals and Texans + 7 at the Raiders. The 3-3 ATS mark made sense as faves/dogs split 7-7 ATS overall on the weekend, though we were disappointed to miss the upsets by the Commanders over the Packers and Bears over the Patriots.
Without further ado, let’s go over the NFL Week 8 card. 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.
Note: Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of Tuesday night unless otherwise noted. Check out VSIN.com's live NFL odds page here for current odds.
Baltimore Ravens (-1.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Thursday nighter gives us a matchup of co-division leaders, but both the Ravens (4-3) and Buccaneers (3-4) are seen as teams off to disappointing starts. Tom Brady is arguably at the low point of his career after the Bucs’ 21-3 loss to the Panthers as 13-point road favorites after managing just a field goal. That dropped Tampa Bay to No. 22 in the NFL in total offense at just 330.6 yards per game and No. 17 in scoring offense at just 17.7 points per game. The Ravens’ problems aren’t on the offensive side of the ball as Lamar Jackson is playing like the former MVP that he is, but the defense is ranked No. 23 and that doesn’t even tell the whole story as Baltimore has blown three double-digit leads in the fourth quarter. With that in mind, we expect this to be another close game, so we can’t pass up the Buccaneers in 2-team, 6-point teasers as we can move them through the key numbers of 3 and 7 to + 7.5. We’ll start a couple of teasers to games on Sunday (Saints + 8 vs. Raiders, Jets + 7.5 vs. Patriots and Rams + 7.5 vs. 49ers are the top options as of this writing). For our purposes on Thursday night, let’s go with Buccaneers + 7.5/Over 39 similar to what we did last Thursday when we cashed in on Saints + 8.5/Over 38 when the Saints lost to the Cardinals in a 42-34 shootout but got in the back door to win our teaser.
Best Bet: Buccaneers + 7.5/Over 39, plus other 2-team, 6-point teasers (pool play: split pretty much 50/50 in my rare SU and ATS contest that use Thursday night games, slight lean to the Bucs). Update: In the "Thursday's Take" section on gameday, I mentioned we had a change of favorite and said the recommended teaser had changed to Ravens + 8/Over 39.5. Friday Update: WINNER and WINNER
Denver Broncos vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (-2.5) in London
Set your alarm to get up early Sunday as we have another game from London. As of Tuesday night, it wasn’t officially announced if Russell Wilson will return to the lineup. Considering this line was as high as Jaguars -4.5 and has been bet down to 2.5, I’m guessing someone knows (or is speculating heavily) that Wilson is going to play. Coach Nathaniel Hackett said that the decision could come on Wednesday. If Wilson does play (and Denver still remains a dog), I think the Broncos are teasable along with the Saints, Jets and Rams as mentioned above. Just like last week when I faded the Jaguars with the Giants, I’m not so sure Jacksonville should be favored at all, especially on a neutral field.
Best Bet: Broncos + 8.5/Saints + 8, plus other 2-team, 6-point teasers (pool play: Broncos 55/45 in both SU and ATS contests). Update: after flying to London, it sounds like Wilson will play. The line has remained Jaguars -2.5, so we still like our teasers using the Broncos.
Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys (-9)
The Cowboys, who beat the Lions 24-6 in Dak Prescott’s return on Sunday, opened as 10-point home favorites in this game, though it was adjusted down to 9 at most books after the Bears’ shocking 33-14 upset of the Patriots on Monday Night Football. I was bummed that I didn’t back my hometown Bears as I was with most other bettors that didn’t think they would be able to beat the Patriots (or even cover as 8.5-point dogs). However, I also don’t think I’ll be pulling the trigger in this game either. While Justin Fields and the Bears offense performed better than expected against a strong Patriots defense (which shut out the Lions in Week 5 and held the Browns to 15 points in Week 6), the Cowboys’ defense is even better.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Cowboys 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 90/10 in SU pools).
Las Vegas Raiders (-2) at New Orleans Saints
Out of our suggested teaser plays in Week 8, I think I like this one the best. While the Raiders looked much better coming out of their bye week in their 38-20 win at Houston, it was still the Texans, who are No. 31 in total defense. The New Orleans defense (ranked No. 14) should put up a better fight and the Saints have the No. 3 offense behind only the Bills and Chiefs and should match the Raiders score for score whether it’s Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton or Taysom Hill under center. Our preferred teaser in Sunday’s early games (meaning the 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT kickoffs) is with the Jets.
Best Bet: Saints + 8/Jets + 7.5, plus other 2-team, 6-point teasers (pool play: Saints 55/45 in ATS contests, but Raiders still 55/45 in SU pools). Update: Saints still teasable from + 1.5 to + 7.5.
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-4.5)
Believe it or not, this game could be for the NFC South lead if the Buccaneers lose Thursday night to the Ravens. The Falcons (3-4) are tied with Tampa Bay at the top of the division while the Panthers (2-5) are just one game back after upsetting the Bucs 21-3 as 13-point home underdogs this past Sunday despite trading star RB Christian McCaffrey three days prior and everyone believing they had given up on the season. The Falcons have been overachieving all season as their 35-17 loss to the Bengals was the first game they didn’t cover against the spread with three upsets and three covers in straight-up losses. The Falcons opened as 6.5-point home favorites, which is usually not a good spot for teams that are used to being dogs (see recent examples of Lions and Jaguars), and early action has come in on the Panthers. RBs D’Onta Foreman (116 rushing yards, two receptions) and Chubba Hubbard (63 rushing yards, TD, two catches) more than made up for the loss of McCaffrey while QB PJ Walker (16-for-22, 177 passing yards, two TDs) hit enough key throws to upset the Bucs, though the Panthers are still dead-last in the NFL at 271.9 yards per game. The Falcons, for all their relative success, are No. 30 in total defense, so we feel this line is a little inflated (the advance line from the summer was around pick-’em or Falcons -1). We expect the Panthers to be in this the whole way and we don’t think anyone will be shocked if they pull another upset.
Best Bet: Panthers + 4.5 (pool play: Panthers 67/33 in ATS contests, but Falcons 55/45 in SU pools). Update: line dropped to 4 at most books, but we still like Panthers at that number.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles (-10.5)
This was one of my three early bets this week. This isn’t Andy Reid’s Eagles that used to be gold coming out of a bye; in fact, they’re 6-6 SU and 3-8-1 ATS in post-bye week games the past dozen years, including 2-3 SU and a 0-4-1 ATS skid in home games (credit to our VSiN colleague Steve Makinen for these stats). Philadelphia apologists will say this undefeated team is better than most of those squads, but we still don’t think the Eagles should be favored by this many points. I mean, as awesome as the Eagles have been this season, they’ve only won two games (against the Vikings and Commander) by more than this spread and have failed to cover smaller spreads against the Lions and Cardinals. Besides, the Steelers, as inconsistent as they’re been overall, are coming off a 20-18 upset of the Buccaneers as 9.5-point home underdogs and a spread-covering 16-10 loss as 7-point road dogs at the Dolphins.
Best Bet: Steelers + 10.5 (pool play: Steelers 67/33 in ATS contests, though Eagles still 75/25 in SU pools).
Miami Dolphins (-3.5) at Detroit Lions
The Lions were very good to bettors last year (11-6 ATS despite a 3-13-1 SU record) and early this season, but they’ve really put up stinkers their last two games, getting shut out 29-0 by the Patriots in Week 5 and then getting run over by the Cowboys 24-6 last week after their bye. The Detroit offense still ranks No. 4 in total offense, but that’s mostly from when they were No. 1 through the first four games of the season and putting up insane numbers. I just can’t talk myself into betting them again as this number seems too short. Tua Tagovailoa returned from his concussion/injury layoff on Sunday night and looked sharp early, though the offense stalled in the eventual 16-10 win over the Steelers. We don’t expect the Lions’ league-worst defense (No. 32) to offer as much resistance.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Dolphins 60/40 in ATS contests and around 75/25 in SU pools).
Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings (-4)
The Vikings (5-1) have built the biggest division lead in the NFL as they’re two games ahead of the Packers and Bears (both 3-4) in the NFC North. In their last game before the bye, the Vikings (No. 18 in average yards per game) only gained 234 yards at the Dolphins but did enough in their 24-16 victory with QB Kirk Cousins throwing two TD passes and RB Dalvin Cook adding a 53-yard TD run with 3:15 left in the fourth quarter. The Vikings opened as 5.5-point home favorites, but early wagering has dropped the line to 4 at DraftKings and 3.5 at most other books as of late Tuesday. Bettors are backing the Cardinals, who are only 3-4 but looked like a much-improved team with the return of star WR DeAndre Hopkins (10 catches, 103 yards) from a six-game PED suspension as they beat the Saints 42-34 last Thursday night. In addition, the Vikings haven’t been a good team after their bye weeks as they’re 3-9 SU and ATS the last dozen years. When we take everything into consideration, we basically don’t believe oddsmakers are giving the Cards enough of an upgrade with the addition of Hopkins, so we’ll take the points here in what should be a shootout (we also lean to Over 49).
Best Bet: Cardinals + 4 (pool play: Cardinals 60/40 in ATS contests, but Vikings 60/40 in SU pools). Update: The line is down to 3.5 at most books, but we still feel that's OK (just wouldn't want to settle for only getting + 3.
New England Patriots (-1.5) at New York Jets
This was expected to be a battle of AFC East teams with winning records until the Patriots (3-4) lost to the Bears as 8.5-point home favorites on Monday night. The Jets (5-2) continue their Cinderella story (OK, maybe that’s going too far) after four straight wins over the Steelers, Dolphins, Packers and Broncos. New York suffered a big loss with rookie sensation Breece Hall going down with a torn ACL, but the offense has reinforcements on the way with RB James Robinson acquired from Jacksonville and WR Elijah Moore returning after requesting a trade and being inactive in Week 7. The Jets’ No. 10 defense should also help keep the game close against a New England offense that only managed 14 points against the Bears – or even pull the minor upset – but we feel the best way to play them is in teasers as mentioned above.
Best Bet: Jets + 7.5/Saints + 8, plus other 2-team, 6-point teasers (pool play: Jets 55/45 in all SU and ATS contests). Update: Spread went to Pats -2.5 at most books on Wednesday, so that's even better as we can tease Jets up to + 8.5.
Tennessee Titans (-2) at Houston Texans
This looks like another possible teaser play, but I think I’m going to pass on this one. The Texans started the season more competitive than expected when they covered in their 20-20 tie vs. the Colts in the season-opener and then covering in a 16-9 loss at the Broncos as 10-point dogs. However, they’ve failed to cover in two of their last three games and the 13-6 upset of the Jaguars in Week 5 doesn’t instill me with much confidence. Meanwhile, it’s been the opposite with the Titans as they’ve rebounded from their 0-2 start to take control of the AFC South with four straight wins over the Raiders, Colts, Commanders and Colts again. Tease the Texans at your own risk.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Titans 60/40 in ATS contests and closer to 67/33 in SU pools).
New York Giants at Seattle Seahawks (-3)
These are two of the biggest surprise teams of the early season with the Seahawks (4-3) leading the NFC West and the Giants (6-1) right behind the undefeated Eagles in the NFC East. The Giants’ lone loss was Week 3 vs. the Cowboys and backup QB Cooper Rush. First-year coach Brian Daboll is in the running for Coach of the Year, though many people believe he’s doing it with mirrors as the Giants are ranked just No. 19 in both total offense and total defense. The Giants have been mostly relying on Saquon Barkley (No. 2 in the league with 726 rushing yards) with QB Daniel Jones in a game-manager mode. Oddsmakers and bettors have not been giving the Giants much credit as they were 3-point road underdogs at Jacksonville before their 23-17 victory this past Sunday and are again 3-point road dogs in Seattle, which is overachieving behind Geno Smith, but how will the Seahawks fare now that they’re put in the favorite’s role? (Note: they lost as 1-point home chalk in Week 3 vs. the Falcons). I grabbed the Giants + 3 on Sunday night and gave it out on “The Greg Peterson Experience” and it’s in the VSiN daily emails, so just like last week I’m pot-committed on the G-men.
Best Bet: Giants + 3 (pool play: Giants 67/33 in ATS contests – higher if offered + 3.5 – and let’s call for outright upset again at 60/40 in SU pools).
Washington Commanders at Indianapolis Colts (-3)
This game is in the 4:25 p.m. ET/1:25 p.m. window, which means it’ll probably be seen by more eyeballs and wagered on by more people than it would if it was buried in the earlier Sunday games. I can’t imagine too many people watching this game unless they’re true die-hard Washington (3-4) or Indianapolis (3-3-1) fans. Colts coach Frank Reich has replaced Matt Ryan with former Texas QB Sam Ehlinger, but the number is too short for me to take the Commanders even with them coming off wins over the Bears and Packers.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Colts 55/45 in SU contests – higher if offered -2.5 – and 67/33 in SU pools). Update: I'm still not recommending a play on the Commanders, but if you do like them you should probably bet ASAP as it looks like the line is trending toward 2.5.
San Francisco 49ers (-1.5) at Los Angeles Rams
The Rams (3-3) and 49ers (3-4) are chasing the Seahawks in the NFC West, so this is a key mid-season game as the loser will be behind the proverbial 8-ball after eight weeks. The big news in San Fran is the addition of RB Christian McCaffrey, though that still didn’t help the 49ers keep up with the Chiefs last week. With that in mind, we feel the Rams’ No. 5 defense should be able to keep this a one-score game. In addition, the Rams have been solid off their bye weeks in recent years at 8-3 SU and 8-2-1 ATS run in their last 11 post-bye week games at home. If looking for a game to pair this with in a 2-team, 6-point teaser (and haven’t done so with any of the earlier games), I prefer the Giants vs. the Seahawks as opposed to the other potential teaser plays on the Texans or Commanders (all of which can be teased up over a touchdown).
Best Bet: Rams in teasers (pool play: Rams 55/45 in all SU and ATS contests).
Green Bay Packers at Buffalo Bills (-11)
This was the first play I gave out on “The Greg Peterson Experience” on Sunday night after the Week 8 openers were released. I know the Bills are the Super Bowl favorites and have the No. 1 ranked offense and defense, but they play a lot of close games: lost 21-19 at the Dolphins, failed to cover in 23-20 win at the Ravens and only covered in their 24-20 win at the Chiefs before their bye because the spread was so low at -2.5. As for the Packers, I know how terribly they’ve played (and have made money fading them this year despite not taking the Commanders against them last week), but they’re not that bad that they should be double-digit underdogs. This is the first time that Aaron Rodgers has been given this many points in his career, and he’s already mentioned that being such big dogs vs. the Bills might be good for his team. Now, just because a player or team sounds motivated doesn’t mean they’ll automatically win or cover, but dogs are 4-1 ATS the past five Sunday Night Football games, so it has been a prime opportunity for dogs with something to prove to show what they have before a national audience.
Best Bet: Packers + 11 (pool play: Packers 70/30 in ATS contests, though Bills still 75/25 in SU pools). Update: Line went back up to 11.5 at most books on Wednesday, so that's even better for us (note: line dropped back to 11 at most books on Thursday, so if you're with me, bet the Packers ASAP).
Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Cleveland Browns
There have been times this season when it looked like Jacoby Brissett would keep the Browns in playoff contention, but the Browns “keep doing Browns things” that keep them from winning close games and they’ve dropped to 2-5 including four straight losses to the Falcons, Chargers, Patriots and Ravens. They did cover in Sunday’s 23-20 loss at the Ravens as 3.5-point dogs, but I can’t trust them to do it again vs. the Bengals, who have survived their 0-2 start (see “Super Bowl loser hangover”) and have won four of their last five games – going 5-0 ATS in the process)
Pass (pool play: Bengals 60/40 in ATS contests and 75/25 in SU pools).