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 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 be 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 35-25-3 ATS (58.3 percent) vs. my Vegas consensus closing lines with 1 game closing pick’-em (Commanders-Lions in Week 2). Last week, dogs went 8-7-1 ATS.
Personally, I went 2-0 ATS with my two top plays – Titans + 3.5 at Colts and Patriots + 9.5 that I gave out on my regular spot at 12:15 a.m. ET/9 p.m. PT Sunday night on “The Greg Peterson Experience” and in these columns all week. Unfortunately, my second tier of plays didn’t fare as well as I went 2-3 ATS in the Circa Sports Million and Westgate SuperContest with my individual entries, though I did go 3-2 ATS with a group entry (ViewFromVegas-2) that is off to a nice start at 13-7 in Circa Sports Million.
Without further ado, let’s look at the NFL Week 5 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.
And, after we’re done, we’ll end the column with our regularly scheduled recaps of Tuesday night’s betting action and some plays for Wednesday as the MLB regular season draws to a close.
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.
Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos (-3.5 EVEN)
The Thursday nighter looked like a much better matchup before the season started. The Broncos are off to a 2-2 start in Russell Wilson’s first season in Denver and the offense is ranked No. 21 at just 335.8 yards per game. Wilson was listed as questionable, but he insists he’s going to play. It’s tempting to take the Colts + 3.5, but they’re off to an even more disappointing start at 1-2-1, including a tie at the Texans in Week 1. Surprisingly, their only win so far was against the Chiefs, the best team they’ve faced, so the potential is still there. I was thinking the Under is the play (especially as both teams rank in the Top 6 in total defense), but the oddsmakers have the total relatively low at 43 points. Besides, with the Broncos losing top RB Javonte Williams for the season and Indy RB Jonathan Taylor (ankle) in a walking boot earlier this week, both teams might be looking to air it out more..
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Colts 55/45 in ATS contests, though Broncos 67/33 in my rare SU pools that use the TNF game).
New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers (-8.5) in London
We successfully faded the Packers at home last week, and see no reason not to fade them again on a neutral field in London. Besides, Aaron Rodgers and his receivers still look in sync after not working much together in the offseason and preseason. Rodgers somehow rallied the Packers to beat the Patriots 27-24 in OT but they were never close to covering as 9.5-point faves. The Packers’ biggest weakness continues to be its run defense, and Giant RB Saquon Barkley comes in as the league’s leader with 463 rushing yards. QB Daniel Jones (ankle) is expected to be able to play, though the focus should be on letting Barkley run wild against the Packers’ D.
Best Bet: Giants + 8.5 (pool play: Giants 67/33 in ATS contests, though Packers still 60/40 in SU pools).
Seattle Seahawks at New Orleans Saints (-5.5)
As I wrote in my preview for the VSiN’s Betting Guide, the Saints are playing the week after a London game without taking the usual bye week. It’s a small sample as just 5 of the 60 teams that have played in London have opted out of an early bye, but those teams are 2-3 SU and 2-2-1 ATS, so they’re not an automatic fade. Both teams are coming off a wild Week 4 games as the Seahawks outlasted the Lions in a 48-45 shootout while the Saints lost 28-25 to the Vikings in a crazy finish with a double-doink off the left upright and crossbar on Will Lutz’s FG attempt to try to send the game to overtime. The Seahawks are tempting again as a dog, but I’m not able to pull the trigger as the Saints’ defense is better than it has shown so far. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are ranked No. 31 in total defense, allowing 428 yards per game. The lean is to the Over 45.5, but check the status of New Orleans’ walking wounded, including Winston, RB Alvin Kamara and WR Michael Thomas.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Saints 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-7)
I already gave this out on “The Greg Peterson Experience” on Sunday night and bet the + 7, but there are some books dealing the Jaguars -7 with added juice, so you might want to wait to see if we can get the hook at + 7.5. However, the Westgate SuperBook in Vegas has the juice on the Texans + 7, so we’re getting mixed signals and be sure to grab the full 7 if they start to disappear. This is basically a fade against the Jaguars in the role of favorite, plus the Texans have been competitive despite their 0-3-1 SU start as they’re 2-1-1 ATS and had rallied to get within the number against the Chargers before losing the cover late. Note: a lot of people will be looking to tease the Jaguars down to virtually pick-’em, but I feel that’s a risky play with them so unfamiliar in the role of favorites (see Lions’ loss as chalk last week).
Best Bet: Texans + 7 or better (pool play: Texans 67/33 in ATS contest, though Jaguars still 60/40 in SU pools).
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills (-14)
Here’s another early bet I’ve already made on the Steelers + 14 as I think it’s been adjusted too high after being Bills -9.5 on the advance line last week and reopening -14 on Sunday afternoon. The Bills are certainly capable of blowing teams out, but they’ve played close games the last two weeks (loss at Dolphins, narrow win at Ravens). While the Steelers aren’t as good as those teams, parity still exists in the NFL and their defense should keep this relatively close (and I trust Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin to have a game plan to contain Buffalo QB Josh Allen) and rookie Kenny Pickett should be better prepared with a full week of reps with the first team. He already seems to have a good rapport with fellow rookie George Pickens.
Best Bet: Steelers + 14 (pool play: Steelers 75/25 in ATS contests, though Bills still 70/30 in SU pools).
Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9)
The Bucs are coming off back-to-back losses to the Packers and Chiefs, so many people are expecting them to take out their frustrations on the Falcons. However, the Falcons have been far more competitive than anyone expected as they’re the lone 4-0 ATS team so far this season with covers in SU losses to the Saints and Rams and then minor upsets as 1-point dogs the past two weeks vs. the Seahawks and Browns. Marcus Mariota is spreading the ball around to rookie WR Drake London and TE Kyle Pitts. RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson is out with an injured knee but the combo of Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley (both popular fantasy pickups this week) filled in just fine.
Best Bet: Falcons + 9 (pool play: Falcons 67/33 in ATS contests, though still Bucs 70/30 in SU pools).
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-7)
Division dogs of a touchdown or greater are usually in my wheelhouse, but we can’t back the Bears here. They’re not as good as their 2-2 SU record (1-2-1 ATS) would indicate as they’re No. 31 in scoring offense. Their two wins were aided by sloppy conditions in their 19-10 win vs. the 49ers in Week 1 and then beating the lowly Texans 23-20 in Week 3. They’re taking a step up in class here and I don’t expect Justin Fields and the Bears offense to keep up with Kirk Cousins and the Vikes. In fact, this is a good spot to go over our teaser portfolio for Week 5. In Sunday’s early games, I love a 2-team, 6-point teaser with the Vikings -1/Lions + 9 as the LIons are back in their more comfortable role as underdogs..
Best Bet: Vikings -1 in 2-team, 6-point teaser with Lions + 9 at Patriots (pool play: Vikings 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Tennessee Titans (-2.5) at Washington Commanders
After a disappointing 0-2 start, the Titans beat the Raiders and Colts the last two weeks to move into a first-place tie with the Jaguars atop the AFC South at 2-2 (Titans also 2-2 ATS). The 24-17 win at Indianapolis was the Titans’ most complete performance to date with Derrick Henry rushing for 114 yards and the defense holding an opponent below 20 points for the first time this season. Ryan Tannehill only threw for 137 yards, but he was an efficient 17-for-21 with 2 TDs and, more importantly, zero interceptions as the Titans won the turnover battle 3-0. Washington ranks a mediocre No. 23 in both total offense and total defense. This game was pick-’em on the advance line last week and “reopened” at Titans -1 on Sunday and is up to -2.5 at most books. I would normally look to tease the underdog up over a TD, but – if I was forced to lay the points with one favorite this weekend, it would be the Titans -2.5.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Titans 67/33 in ATS contests and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).
Miami Dolphins (-3 -120) at New York Jets
This is an interesting matchup with the Dolphins off to a 3-1 start and the Jets at 2-2 with all four games vs. the AFC North. The Jets are coming off a 24-20 upset of the Steelers as 3-point road dogs in Zach Wilson’s return to the lineup and now face a similar spread at home vs. the Dolphins. Tua Tagovailoa is out with a concussion. This would be even more tempting to take the underdog Jets if the line continues to rise and we can get + 3.5 but I’m leery of fading Teddy Bridgewater as he excels when pressed into duty as a starter.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Jets 55/45 in ATS contests – higher if offered + 3.5 – but Dolphins 67/33 in SU pools).
Los Angeles Chargers (-3) at Cleveland Browns
Here’s another home dog (they’re 14-10-2 ATS so far this season), but this is one I’m willing to back. The Chargers covered vs the Texans last Sunday, but they often struggle to cover as road faves. Jacoby Brissett is playing well enough in place of Deshaun Watson and has the Browns at 2-2 (would be 3-1 if not for letting the win slip from their grasp in Week 2 vs. the Jets). The Browns are also ranked No. 4 in total offense at 384.8 yards per game, ahead of the Chargers at No. 7 (371.8 yards per game). The Browns are also No. 9 in total defense while the Chargers are further down the list at No. 20. This is also a possible teaser play in Sunday’s early games along with the Vikings and Lions.
Best Bet: Browns + 3, and in teasers (pool play: Browns 60/40 in ATS contests – higher at + 3.5 – but Chargers still 55/45 in SU pools).
Detroit Lions at New England Patriots (-3)
I already went on record as loving the Lions as a teaser play when I gave it out on Sunday night along with the Rams + 7.5 on Monday night. Unfortunately, the Rams lost 24-9 to the 49ers to lose that early bet, but we’re taking them in new teasers on Sunday with the Vikings and Browns in the early games. In addition, we also like the Lions on the spread at + 3 or higher. The Lions have the No. 1 offense in the league at 436.8 yards per game, though they’re also No. 32 in total defense (allowing 444.8 yards per contest). However, we’re not so sure the Patriots’ offense can keep up with the Lions whether they go with Brian Hoyer or rookie Bailey Zappe.
Best Bet: Lions + 3 or better, and Lions in teasers (pool play: Lions 60/40 in ATS contests – higher at + 3.5 – while Patriots just 55/45 in SU pools).
San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) at Carolina Panthers
The 49ers crawled back to ,500 (and tied for first in the NFC West at 2-2) in Monday night’s win vs. the Rams as the defense dominated. JImmy Garappolo also looked more comfortable back in the starting role and led a balanced attack with WR Deebo Samuel, RB Jeffrey Wilson Jr. and TE George Kittle. I’m sure I’ll be on the Panthers plenty of times as underdogs this season (though they’re both 1-3 SU and ATS so far), but I just feel this number is a little short this week.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: 49ers 55/45 in SU pools and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Philadelphia Eagles (-5.5) at Arizona Cardinals
This is a very similar situation as the 49ers-Panthers game as I just don’t feel we’re getting enough points to take the Cardinals as home dogs. Granted, the Cards are back to .500 after beating the Panthers in Week 4, but they haven’t shown the consistency needed to keep up with the Eagles, who are the league’s last undefeated team at 4-0 and the most balanced team so far as they’re No. 2 in total offense and No. 3 in total defense.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Eagles 60/40 in ATS contests and closer to 75/35 in SU pools).
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (-4.5)
The Cowboys are actually one of the surprise teams of the early season at 3-1 SU and ATS with three straight wins being backup QB Cooper Rush, the placeholder for Dak Prescott, who still isn’t ready to return yet from his thumb injury. The Dallas offense is averaging just 312.8 yards per game to rank No, 26, but that’s been good enough with the defense stepping up, ranking No. 7 by allowing just 308.5 yards per game. The defending champion Rams are 2-2 after losing to the 49ers on Monday night when they only scored 9 points against the 49ers’ defense, and the Cowboys’ D will cause similar problems.
Best Bet: Cowboys + 4.5 (pool play: Cowboys 67/33 in ATS contests and let’s go 55/45 in SU pools as well).
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-3 -115)
I already gave this out at + 3.5, so I hope a lot of readers bet it as the line is down to 3 just about everywhere. I obviously agree with the move and still like the Bengals at the current number. The Bengals have struggled a little with the Super Bowl loser hangover, but they’ve clawed their way back to 2-2 with wins over the Jets and Dolphins. Meanwhile, the Ravens are also 2-2 as Lamar Jackson has looked like an MVP candidate, however, their defense has twice given up leads of 17 points or more, so I expect the defending AFC champion Bengals to be in this game the whole way.
Best Bet: Bengals + 3 or better (pool play: Bengals 60/40 in ATS contests – higher if offered 3.5 – and again we’ll call for an outright upset in the majority of SU pools at 55/45).
Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-7)
I’m really torn on the Monday nighter this week. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are obviously playing at a high level, though we’re still trying to figure how they let the Week 3 game against the Colts slip away. Still, they’re 3-1 after the impressive 41-31 win over the Buccaneers last week. The Raiders were the first team to get a win after starting 0-3, so they look capable of staying within one score of the Chiefs in a shootout. But I’m passing on the + 7 for now as I really believe the public will push it over a touchdown and we’ll get a better line on gameday. In the meantime, I’m hoping to be live in some 2-team, 6-point teasers from the Sunday games (Vikings, Browns, Lions) to the Chiefs -1. Then, hopefully, we can get the Raiders + and have a nice shot at a middle.
Best Bet: Pass on Raiders for now, but using Chiefs in teasers (pool play: Chiefs 55/45 in ATS contests – flipping to Raiders if offered + 7.5 – and Chiefs closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Here’s an abbreviated version of our regular daily Tuley’s Takes Today column with recaps of yesterday’s action and our Best Bets for Wednesday.
MLB: Faves went 10-7 Tuesday with the biggest upsets by the Rockies (+ 300 at Dodgers) and Rangers (+ 176 in Game 2 vs. Yankees, though Aaron Judge hit his AL-record 62nd HR). Braves (-170) beat Marlins 2-1 to clinch NL East for 5th straight year and set the playoff bracket. Home teams went 13-4. Overs 9-8.
More MLB: Faves lead 1,433-932 SU (60.6 percent) on the season with 37 pick-'ems (faves usually win around 59 percent; but had been well ahead of that pace all year and going to finish well over 60 percent). Home teams lead 1,281-1,130 (53.1 percent, usually closer to 54 percent but has been on the rise). Unders lead 1,183-1,103-123 (51.7 percent).
Rangers 1st 5 + 110 vs. Yankees: This is our last “swagger play” of the regular season (we lost with the Reds 1st 5 on Tuesday, though they did beat the Cubs 3-2 on full-game ML while A’s 1st 5 pushed 0-0 but also won full-game ML in 3-2 win vs. Angels, who were in an “anti-swagger” spot. The Rangers snapped their 7-game losing streak in Game 2 of Tuesday’s doubleheader vs. the Yankees, so we like them getting their swagger back, plus the Yankees don’t have anything to play for. In addition, Glen Otto has been pretty good to us, so we expect him to keep the Rangers in the game early. The only other dog – if they even end up a dog – we’re considering for Tuesday is the Marlins, as we’re looking to fade the Braves after they clinched the NL East last night (no overnight line because of that, plus both pitchers listed as “undecided”).