Saturday was one of my busiest days ever, but one that was ultimately very profitable.
It actually started on Friday night/early Saturday morning as I was up to 5 a.m. PT editing and posting some stories on our website at VSiN.com, including writing this daily version of this column as well as Team Tuley’s Thoroughbred Takes for Saturday’s races.
I slipped in 3 hours of sleep before getting back up to post some more stories to VSiN.com and spent the day following all the college football and MLB action while putting in Vegas football contest plays for my proxy clients and concluded the day writing a story on how Circa Survivor and Circa Sports Million shattered all sorts of records for Vegas contests (you can read that story HERE
) and of course writing this story you’re reading now.
After going a woeful 1-4 ATS on CFB Week 1 over Labor Day Weekend, I went 2-0 ATS with my Best Bets on Saturday with Houston (+ 4) covering in a 33-30 2OT loss vs. Texas Tech and Kentucky (+ 6) pulling an outright 26-16 upset of Florida. In addition, we won our top MLB 1st 5 play on the Angels/Ohtani 1st 5 + 100 as they led the Astros 6-1 after 5 innings and coasted to a 6-1 win at + 120, plus had at 12-1 winner in my Team Tuley Thoroughbred Takes column with Red Knight winning Race 10 at Kentucky Downs and paying $26.40 for every $2 wagered.
We sincerely hope our readers shared the wealth and we helped to build everyone’s bankroll heading into Sunday’s NFL card.
Let’s recap the rest of the (full-game) Saturday action and then post our Best Bets for Sunday, followed by our update of the epic 3,000-word NFL Week 1 preview we posted in this column on Wednesday (it previously appeared in Point Spread Weekly but is not housed here). For the first day in about 2 months, I don’t have a single MLB 1st dog for Sunday, but that’s OK as we’ll be obsessed with the NFL.
CFB: No. 1 Alabama escaped with a 20-19 win at Texas: The ViewFromVegas is the Crimson Tide never came close to covering as a 21.5-point road favorite (impossible to do that when you only score 20 points!). The game stayed way Under closing betting total of 64 points. While No. 1 Alabama escaped to keep its record unblemished, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 8 Notre Dame, No. 19 Wisconsin and No. 25 Houston lost to unranked teams. Marshall (+ 20.5, + 1100 ML) upset Notre Dame 26-21, Appalachian State (+ 18.5, + 750 ML) upset Texas A&M 17-14 and Washington State (+ 17.5, + 700 ML) upset Wisconsin 17-14. Texas Tech (-4) beat Houston 33-30 in 2OT as a home favorite, but did not cover. In games between ranked teams, No. 20 Kentucky (+ 6) upset No. 12 Florida 26-16, No. 24 Tennessee (-6) beat No. 17 Pittsburgh 34-27 in OT and covered as road chalk and No. 21 BYU (-2) outlasted No. 9 Baylor 26-20 in 2OT and also ended up covering vs. closing line.
MLB: Faves went 9-5 Saturday with Rays-Yankees closing pick-'em. The upsets (all of which were small) were by the Angels (+ 120 at Astros), Mariners (+ 108 vs. Braves), Tigers (+ 110 at Rockies (-103 vs. Diamondbacks) and Red Sox (-102 at Orioles). Road teams went 10-5. Overs 10-4-1 with push in LAA-HOU (7).
More MLB: Faves lead 1,245-806 SU (60.7 percent) on the season with 32 pick-'ems (faves usually win around 59 percent; still ahead of pace; gap had been narrowing but now back well over 60 percent). Home teams lead 1,098-983 (52.8 percent, usually closer to 54 percent but on the rise). Unders lead 1,018-954-108 (51.6 percent).
Just like yesterday in CFB, I’ll just list my Best Bets for Sunday right here and everyone can read the updated rerun of Wednesday’s column for more details:
Raiders + 3.5 vs. Chargers (still widely available)
Patriots + 3.5
at Dolphins (love we're now getting "the hook")
Cardinals + 6
vs. Chiefs (can now get + 6.5)
Steelers + 7
at Bengals (wrote in column that I was waiting for 7)
Ravens -1/Colts -1
in 2-team, 6-point teaser (can actually get Ravens down to -0.5 now)
Vikings + 7.5/Cowboys + 8.5
(edge gone on Vikes leg as line down to PK)
And now our full column from Wednesday as we give our "takes" on the NFL Week 1, with Best Bets and also "pool plays" for those who are in contests where you pick every game:
Welcome to the Wednesday edition of “Tuley’s Takes Today,” which starting this year will be where I post my popular, long-running NFL column where I give my “takes” on every game on the NFL schedule.
I’ve written it the last five seasons in VSiN’s digital online magazine, “Point Spread Weekly,” but we’re rearranged how we provide our contest to VSiN subscribers and we’re combining my weekly column into these daily columns so we can offer fresher opinions (and we’ll keep it at the bottom of our columns throughout the weekend and be able to update our recommended wagers in case there are changes in the lines due to injuries, COVID issues, weather or any other reason, including plain market movements).
For the newbies joining us, I’m a self-proclaimed “dog-or-pass” bettor, so in most games I’ll be basically trying to see if I feel I’m getting enough points to take the underdog. However, I believe it should be pointed out that even though I only bet dogs, I don’t bet every dog. The “pass” part of my mantra is a valid opinion where I believe it’s best to just stay away and look for other games to bet. I’m also proud to mention that I have heard from many chalk bettors (or at least those that play far more favorites than I do) over the years that they love when I pass on a dog because they see it as a “buy sign” on the favorite because I was unable to make a case for the dog. Again, I believe that’s a valid, logical way to approach my takes on the games.
Now, this Week 1 is going to have a different feel than the columns the rest of the season as these lines have been up since May and have settled for the most part (though we’ll note some exceptions in the individual games).
Also, if you were reading my columns when the schedule was released, you probably remember that I only liked three opening lines: Dolphins -2.5 vs. the Patriots, Jaguars + 4.5 at the Commanders and Cowboys + 3 vs. the Buccaneers (and hopefully a lot of you bet them as we’re in great positions now whether we decided to let our bets ride since we have the best numbers or try to shoot for some “middles” or “sides”). For those who don’t know, a “middle” is when you bet both teams in a game (like -2.5 and + 3.5) and the final margin lands in the middle, so you win both bets. A “side” is when the margin lands on one of the numbers (such as -2 and + 3) and you win one bet and push the other.
Since most readers aren’t in that position, we’re going to go through all the games as if we’re all just betting the games this week and looking for the best bets on the opening-weekend card.
Another way this column is different than coming weeks is we’re going to rely very heavily on teasers. In fact, I already gave out several teasers on my weekly appearance on “The Greg Peterson Experience” at 9:15 p.m. PT Sunday and in the earlier versions of this column this week. I’ll cite those as we go through the games along with my Best Bet if betting ATS. And if I happen to pass, I’ll still give my “pool play” recommendations because I know a lot of readers are in pools where you have to play every game.
Without further ado, here come my “takes.”
Note: Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of Tuesday night. Check out VSIN.com's live NFL odds page here for current odds.
Buffalo Bills (-2.5) at Los Angeles Rams
The season-opener is the first of 10 – count ‘em, 10 – road favorites, the most ever in a Week 1. The defending Super Bowl champion Rams opened as a 1-point home favorites, but the Bills are the future-book fave (around 6-1) and are up to 2.5-point road chalk. It’s getting more tempting to grab the Rams as home dogs, but the sharpest play looks like it’s to tease the Rams up to + 8.5 on a 6-point teaser. I’m doing that with the other four “advantage teasers” (also known as “Wong teaser” for the old-timers) that capture the key number of 3 and 7: Ravens (-1 at Jets), Colts (-1 at Texans), Vikings (+ 8 vs. Packers) and Cowboys + 8.5 vs. Buccaneers).
Best Bet: Pass, but Rams in teasers (pool play: Rams 55/45 in my rare SU and ATS contests that use Thursday night games). Tuley noted: we LOST all teasers with the Rams Thursday night.
Baltimore Ravens (-7) at New York Jets
This line opened Ravens -4.5 and climbed not only because bettors like the Ravens but also as Zach Wilson was expected to miss the opener. There’s been rumblings that he might start instead of Joe Flacco, but the line has held steady at 7, which is fine with us as it’s in teaser range. As I discussed on “The Greg Peterson Experience,” I like to group my teasers (or parlays) by starting times to resist the urge to hedge – just like I used to do with NHL 1st Period Overs for those that were part of our hot run in the winter and spring of 2019 – so the two-teamer I’m playing in the early Sunday games is Ravens -1/Colts -1. Note: as of Sunday morning, Ravens line down to -6.5 so you can tease them down to 0.5.
Best Bet: Pass, but Ravens in teasers (pool play: Ravens 55/45 in ATS contests – though would be 100 percent on -6.5 or + 7.5 if offered those in ATS contests – and around 80/20 in SU pools).
New Orleans Saints (-5.5) at Atlanta Falcons
We have yet another road fave in this NFC South opener. This line has also creeped up from -3.5 to -5.5, which is probably more due to bettors ignoring or choosing to fade the Falcons with Matt Ryan gone and being replaced by Marcus Mariota. It’ll be interesting to see how Jameis Winston fares in his 2nd year as the starting QB in New Orleans. Before he suffered an ACL tear and missed the second half last year, he had thrown 14 TD passes and had just 3 INTs, which has long been his biggest problem.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Saints around 60/40 in ATS contests and at least 75/25 in SU pools).
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (-3.5)
As mentioned above, I bet the Dolphins -2.5 back in May because I truly believed this line would be bet to the key number of 3. And if it stayed there, I would have probably let my bet ride, but with it now crossing the key number and giving us the hook at + 3.5, the betting value has flipped to the Patriots as we don’t see the Dolphins that much better than the Pats. When I’m trying to set up middles like this, it’s more common for me to bet about 20-25 percent back on the other side, but in this case I’m going to come “over the top” and bet more on the Patriots.
Best Bet: Patriots + 3.5 (pool play: Patriots 60/40 in ATS contests, though Dolphins still slightly more in SU pools).
Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers (pick)
The Browns opened as 4.5-point faves (so there should be 11 road chalk!) but that was before it became apparent that Deshaun Watson was going to be suspended, causing this line to flip. I’m not the biggest Jacoby Brissett fan, but there now seems to be more value on the Browns as short road dogs. They still have the better overall team, but with the line so short I just can’t pull the trigger. This could be another game to add to the teaser portfolio as you can tease the Browns up over a full TD. Editor's note: this line was back to pick-'em at DraftKings and most other books as of early Friday morning.
Best Bet: Pass, and Browns no longer in teasers (pool play: Browns around 55/45 in both SU and ATS contests).
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5)
This line has stayed pretty solid at Bengals -6.5 after taking over the AFC North last season and making a trip to the Super Bowl. A case could be made that the Bengals are the better team (and some will tease them down to basically pick-’em), but we also need to beware of the Super Bowl loser’s hangover. That has me on the fence about taking the Steelers despite having to trust Mitch Trubisky as he was named Ben Roethlisberger’s successor on Tuesday. We’d like it a lot better at + 7, though that seems unlikely. Update: Steelers %plusign% 7 becoming more available as of early Sunday.
Best Bet: Pass, but reserving right to change mind if we get + 7 (pool play: Steelers 55/45 in ATS contests, but Bengals still 70/30 in SU pools).
San Francisco 49ers (-7) at Chicago Bears
This line opened -6 but was quickly bet to 7 and has stayed pretty solid. I passed on using the 49ers in teasers because I’m not so sure the 49ers made the right decision in handing the reins to Trey Lance. I feel Jimmy Garoppolo is still the better QB and they should have given Lance another year to develop, but that’s just me. Still, I’m not willing to take the points with the Bears either as Justin Fields should improve for the Bears but he doesn’t have enough to work with. (Note: this line looks likes it's trending downward toward 6.5.)
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Bears about 55/45 in ATS contests on principle, but 49ers still around 80/20 in SU pools).
Philadelphia Eagles (-4) at Detroit Lions
The Lions were 11-6 ATS last season as they often exceeded expectations by being more competitive than their 3-13-1 SU record would indicate. The Eagles also overachieved by going 9-8 last year behind Jalen Hurts to grab a wild-card berth. With both teams gaining support from the public (and the Lions also got a boost from appearing on “Hard Knocks”), this line has stayed pretty steady. If it was higher, I would entertain taking the Lions as home dogs, but I think there’s enough of a talent disparity here that the Eagles are probably still the right side. Update: Line up to 5.5, but I'm still not jumping on Lions.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Eagles 55/60 in ATS contests and closer to 90/10 in SU pools).
Indianapolis Colts (-7) at Houston Texans
Is Matt Ryan an upgrade over Carson Wentz? That’s what everyone is wondering in Indianapolis, but what we do know is the Colts are the better team on both sides of the ball. Now, that doesn’t mean I would advise Colts backers to lay the 7, but we feel really confident about teasing the Colts down to -1 now that the line dropped from 8 to 7 on Tuesday.
Best Bet: Pass, except for Colts in teasers (pool play: Colts 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 90/10 in SU pools).
Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Commanders (-2.5)
As mentioned above, we jumped on the Jaguars + 4.5 back in May and would have been content letting that ride, but this line was bet down from 3 to 2.5 and I can’t resist laying -2.5 the Commanders and shoot for a 2-point middle Unlike the Patriots’ example above I’ll keep more invested on the + 4.5 as I see the Jaguars as the right side, though I certainly can’t advise taking them now at less than a field goal. However, they now are in teaser territory.
Best Bet: Pass, except possibly Jaguars in teasers (pool play: Jaguars 55/45 in ATS contests and around 65/35 in SU pools).
Kansas City Chiefs (-6) at Arizona Cardinals
The Chiefs opened right at -3 back in May and I thought that was too short to take the Cardinals as home dogs, especially as they’ve actually played better on the road in the Kliff Kingsbury era. However, the line has steadily been inching up during the summer and then went from 4.5 to 6 the past few days and the Cardinals are now playable. A lot of bettors out there aren’t aware they could have bet the Chiefs at a lower price, so I expect this could get bet up even higher by the public over the weekend, so I think we should wait just in case. While the Cardinals will certainly miss DeAndre Hopkins as he sits out the first six games with a performance-enhancing suspension, I believe the Chiefs will miss Tyreek Hill more than anyone is expecting. Update: Cardinals available at + 6.5 as of early Sunday morning.
Best Bet: Cardinals + 6 or better (pool play: Cardinals 67/33 in ATS contests, but Chiefs still 70/30 in SU pools).
Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5)
This line opened Chargers -4 and has been bet down to 3.5. I think the move is in the right direction as we see the gap narrowing between the teams in the AFC West as the Chargers are probably the best overall team in the division with the Chiefs losing Hill. But the Raiders have closed the gap with the addition of WR Davante Adams (who reunites with Derek Carr from their days at Fresno State), plus the Broncos adding Russell Wison. This is the best and most closely matched division in the NFL, so I’m going to be on the AFC West dogs almost every time they’re getting more than a field goal.
Best Bet: Raiders + 3.5 (pool play: Raiders 75/25 in ATS contests and we’ll call for the outright upset at 67/33 in SU pools).
Green Bay Packers (-1.5) at Minnesota Vikings
This line has stayed right around -1.5 or -2 all summer. I’m certainly tempted to take the Vikings as home dogs as they have the offensive talent to match Aaron Rodgers with Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, etc. However, the safer play is teasing the Vikings up to + 8 (the line at DraftKings was -2 when this column first ran, but now it's 1.5 at most books). Even though I prefer to keep my teasers in the same time slot, I previously recommended to group the Vikings + 7.5 with the Cowboys + 7.5 (now available as high as + 8.5 on 6-point teasers at some books). Update: Line has been bet down to pick-'em (Vikings were No. 1 choice of contestants in Circa Sports Million, so a lot of the teaser edge is done, so hope everyone grabbed it early.
Best Bet: Pass, though Vikings in teasers (pool play: Packers slightly more at 55/45 in both SU and ATS contest).
New York Giants at Tennessee Titans (-5.5)
This line opened at Titans -6.5 and has come down slightly (was -6 when this column first ran, but now mostly at -5.5), but I don’t see the Giants as the sharp side. I have future bets on the Titans, so I certainly want them to get off to a good start and expect them to at least come away with the SU victory. In fact, they will be the team I use most in my Survivor entries as I try to avoid road favorites, which will be what a lot of contestants will be taking such as the Ravens, 49ers and Colts. Since I’m counting on them to win straight-up, I wouldn’t talk anyone out of teasing the Titans down to pick-’em even though they’re not quite in teaser territory as you already have the 7 working for you.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Titans 60/40 in ATS contests and closer to 90/10 in SU pools).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2) at Dallas Cowboys
This line opened Buccaneers -3, but didn’t last long. If you grabbed the Cowboys + 3, you’re in great position to lay -2 with the Bucs to try and hit a side, or just go with the Bucs around -135 on the money line to hit a middle. This should be a shootout between Tom Brady and Dak Prescott and give the Cowboys a great shot at the minor upset, but feel the safer bet is still to just take the Cowboys teased up over a TD. I’m mostly staying away from betting totals in Week 1, but will probably be on the Over 50.5 (try to get it before it goes to 51 or higher at all books).
Best Bet: Over 50.5 points, plus Cowboys in teasers (pool play: Cowboys 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 50/50 in SU pools).
Denver Broncos (-6.5) at Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have been a great underdog bet over the years, especially at home, but that was mostly with QB Russell Wilson, who is of course now in Denver and facing his former team in the opener. I’m not as opposed to Geno Smith at QB as most people and am sure I’ll be on the Seahawks as dogs this season, but I can’t pull the trigger in the MNF opener.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Broncos 67/33 in ATS contests and closer to 85/15 in SU pools).