I’m so glad it’s Sunday. Bring on the NFL!
Saturday was shaping as such a great day with wall-to-wall football that lasted until nearly midnight here in the Tuley’s Takes home office (and nearly to 2 a.m. CT in Iowa as the Hawkeyes had multiple lightning delays before finally finishing their 27-0 shutout of Nevada as 24-point home favorites). We also had MLB to follow and the completion of the Canelo-GGG trilogy.
As you’ll see below in our daily recaps, it was a pretty chalky day all around, so you know I didn’t have a good day. I went 1-3 ATS with my four CFB plays posted in the Saturday version of this column as Western Kentucky + 6.5 was the only pick to cash in a 33-30 OT loss at Indiana. I thought Texas Tech + 10.5 was going to get the back-door cover at North Carolina State, but came up short, while North Texas + 2.5 at UNLV and Michigan State + 3.5 at Washington were both clearly the wrong sides in lopsided losses.
At least I split my MLB 1st 5 plays as the Angels led the Mariners 2-0 after the first 5 innings, but the Yankees trailed the Brewers 4-1 after 5 innings.
All in all, it left me with a greater appreciation of betting pro football! Hopefully Sunday is at least as good as Saturday was bad.
Let’s recap the rest of Saturday’s betting action and list our Best Bets for Sunday (as of early Sunday morning). After that, we’ll again rerun our Wednesday column in which we gave our “takes” on the full NFL schedule, though we’ve added updates in italics along the way for those betting late.
CFB: In a chalky Saturday (at least among top-ranked teams), the Top 9 teams won and covered, even including ultra-high favorites No. 2 Alabama (-50 vs. UL-Monroe) and No. 8 Oklahoma State (-54 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff) covering by identical 63-7 scores! In the biggest scare among Top 10 teams, No. 10 Arkansas (-25.5 vs. Missouri State) rallied to win 38-27 but did NOT cover.
More CFB: Unranked Washington (-3.5) beat No. 11 Michigan State 39-28 but it was NOT an upset. In games between ranked opponents, No. 25 Oregon (-3.5) also covered as chalk in 41-20 win vs. No. 12 BYU and No. 24 Texas A&M (-6.5) covered in 17-9 win vs. No. 12 Miami-Fla.
Boxing: Canelo Alvarez beat Gennadiy Golovkin by unanimous decision late Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena here in Las Vegas to retain his undisputed super middleweight title. Alvarez did it as a -500 favorite (+ 105 to win by Decision). The "will go" (aka Over) 10.5 rounds cashed.
Faves went 11-6 Saturday with upsets by the A's (+ 234 in 8-5 win at Astros, who had 6-game win streak snapped), Royals (+ 124 in 9-0 win at Red Sox), Rockies (+ 122 in 3-1 win at Cubs), Nationals (+ 112 in 5-3 win vs. Marlins), Braves (+ 100 in 4-3 win vs. Phillies) and Padres (-103 in 2-0 win at Diamondbacks). Home teams went 11-6. Unders 11-5-1 with push in the Nationals’ 5-3 win vs. Marlins with a betting total of 8 runs.
More MLB: Faves lead 1,292-844 SU (60.5 percent) on the season with 33 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 1,151-1,026 (52.9 percent, usually closer to 54 percent but has been on the rise). Unders lead 1,071-993-115 (51.9 percent).
Saints + 8.5/Steelers + 8.5 (2-team, 6-point NFL teaser)
Falcons + 10 at Rams
Seahawks + 9 at 49ers
Texans + 10 at Broncos
A’s 1st 5 + 280 at Astros: I would normally be giving my undivided attention to the NFL on Sunday, but I will be monitoring this game as I can’t resist an anti-swagger play against the Astros, who had their 6-game winning streak snapped on Saturday by the A’s. The A’s are + 300 dogs for the full game with lightly used left-hander Ken Waldichuk (0-1, 15 innings, 5.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) going against Houston’s Framber Valdez (15-5, 179.2 innings, 2.50 ERA, 1.11 WHIP), but we’re just asking Waldichuk to get us 5 innings and keep us close as we try to cash another big ticket (regular readers will recall the Reds 1st 5 + 230 on Friday). Followers might also shop around for a + 0.5 line or I even saw + 1.5 runs -105 in the 1st 5 at BetMGM.
And now here's the rerun of our weekly "takes" on the full NFL card:
Welcome to the Wednesday edition of “Tuley’s Takes Today,” which is where we continue our popular, long-running NFL column where I give my “takes” on every game on the schedule each week.
As I wrote in the intro last week, I’ve written this column the last five seasons in VSiN’s digital online magazine, “Point Spread Weekly,” but we’ve rearranged how we provide our content to VSiN subscribers and we’re combining my weekly column into these daily columns so we can offer fresher opinions without the earlier "print" deadline (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).
As a self-proclaimed “dog-or-pass” bettor, I was disappointed that I didn’t have more success in NFL Week 1 as faves and dogs split 8-8 ATS, so there were plenty of dogs out there but I just happened to land on mostly the wrong ones as I went 1-3 ATS with my Best Bets in last week’s column (the win was on the Steelers because they got to + 7 later in the week but I lost with the Patriots, Cardinals and Raiders. I did manage to go 2-3 in my major handicapping contests as I used the Vikings + 1.5 in the Westgate SuperContest and the Texans + 7 in the Circa Sports Million, but that was still disappointing.
In addition, we’ve had a lot of success over the years, including last year, with 2-team, 6-point NFL teasers, but we lost our “key” play on the Rams + 8.5 in the Thursday night opener vs. the Bills and then lost my two teaser plays on Sunday: Ravens -1/Colts -1 as the Colts tied the Texans 20-20 and the Vikings + 7.5/Cowboys + 8.5 as the Cowboys were routed 19-3 by the Buccaneers.
Hopefully we learned some valuable lessons in Week 1, and while we don't want to overreact to everything we saw in the openers, we can apply what we learned in Week 2. Without further ado, here come my “takes.”
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.
Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-4)
We’ve got a great game on Thursday night (well, we thought we also had one last week with Bills-Rams, but the Bills turned that into a laugher). The line opened Chiefs -3 and has been up to -4 mostly due to the Chiefs’ 44-21 rout of the Cardinals, which is fine by me as I’ve already gone on record in saying that I think the AFC West is the best division this year and I’ll probably be on just about any team getting more than a field goal in divisional play. It didn’t work out last week with my play on the Raiders, though they had their chances, but I’ll take the Chargers as they’re pretty much a coin-flip vs. the Chiefs to win the division. I actually have them rated better with the Chiefs losing Tyreek Hill, though Patrick Mahomes sure didn’t look like he missed him with 5 TD passes last week). Regardless, + 4 looks like value to me in a game that could be decided by a field goal either way.
Best Bet: Chargers + 4 ***WIN*** (pool play: Chargers in all of my rare SU and ATS contests that use Thursday night football).
Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)
The Dolphins are a little tempting here off their impressive 20-7 win over the Patriots, but this number seems a little short to me. The Ravens were even better in their 24-9 win at the Jets yet this line has only been as high as 4? Still, I guess some think that’s enough as it’s bet down by half a point, but I’ll pass.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Ravens 55/45 in ATS contests and 67/33 in SU pools).
New York Jets at Cleveland Browns (-6.5)
The Browns gutted out a Week 1 victory over the Panthers as they showed they would at least be superior to the also-rans in the league before Deshaun Watson is able to return. There’s no reason to think Jacoby Brissett and Co. won't be able to take care of the Jets as Joe Flacco did look as mediocre as feared against his former team and I’m not getting enough points to back him here.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Browns 55/45 in ATS pools and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Washington Commanders at Detroit Lions (-2.5)
The Lions were getting dominated by the Eagles, but just like so many times last year, they battled back and got the back-door cover in a 38-35 loss as 4-point home dogs (they were 3-13-1 SU last season but among the best bets in the league at 11-6 ATS). However, they’re now in the role of favorites and I’d have to pass for anyone thinking of laying the short number. The Commanders rallied to win and cover in 28-22 win vs. the Jaguars as Carson Wentz (27-for-41, 313 yards, 4 TDs) spread the ball all around but it wasn’t impressive enough to get me to call for the upset here, but I’ll tease the Commanders up to + 8.5 (update: this was available when we first posted this column, but now the game spread has been bet down to 1 and even pick'-em, so it's no longer a strong teaser play) and use in my portfolio of 2-team, 6-point teasers along with the Saints + 8.5 vs. the Buccaneers, Panthers + 8.5 vs. the Giants, Steelers + 7 vs. the Patriots, Bengals -2 at the Cowboys and Vikings + 8.5 at the Eagles.
Best Bet: Commanders in teasers if available (pool play: Commanders 55/45 in ATS contests but Lions slightly more in SU pools, though close to 50/50).
Indianapolis Colts (-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Colts’ opening-game struggles against the Texans (result in a 20-20 tie as 7-point favorites) reminded me of their Week 1 loss at the Jaguars two years ago. Frank Reich just can’t get these Colts to break from the gate. The Jaguars showed a little life before getting run over by the Commanders, but I’m not quite getting enough points to feel comfortable with the Jaguars here (update: I like the dog even less now that line has dipped to Colts -3).
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Cots 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 70/30 in SU pools).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5) at New Orleans Saints
I mentioned on “The Greg Peterson Experience” on Sunday night (the game was off-the-board because the Bucs had just played the Cowboys on SNF) that the Saints’ have Tom Brady’s number and I was hoping to get the Saints around + 4 since I had seen some books around that number or just slightly lower before kickoff. The Saints swept the Bucs last year, so the secret is out as the line has already been bet down to 2.5. Instead, we’ll have this as our favorite option in our list of 2-team, 6-point teasers listed above (the “key” as I mentioned in the intro as I’ll use them with several other teams, especially the Panthers and Steelers in Sunday’s early session of games) .
Best Bet: Saints in teasers (pool play: Saints 60/40 in ATS contest and I’ll also go around Saints 55/45 in SU pools).
Carolina Panthers at New York Giants (-2.5)
Baker Mayfield wasn’t overly impressive in his Carolina debut against his former team in Cleveland, but he still nearly pulled out the win with a 75-yard TD pass to Robbie Anderson (which really padded his stats to make them look more respectable) and a late FG by Eddy Piniero, only to be outfinished by the Browns. To the contrary, the Giants looked dead in the first half against the Titans only to rally in the 2nd half for one of the biggest Week 1 upsets. Again, the best option looks like we should tease the Panthers up through the two key numbers of 3 and 7 to + 8.5 (update: line down to 2, but teasing Panthers to + 8 is still acceptable).
Best Bet: Pass, except for Panthers in teasers (pool play: Panthers 55/45 in ATS contests but Giants 55/45 in SU pools).
New England Patriots (-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers
I’m trying not to be biased here as the Patriots really let us down in their no-show against the Dolphins while the Steelers came through for us in their upset of the Bengals. However, the Steelers showed us they can win now with Mitch Trubisky in the post-Big Ben era as coach Mike Tomlin always has his team ready no matter what (the same can usually be said of Bill Belichick and he’s always tough off a loss, so bettor beware). That being said, we’ll still take the Steelers as short home dogs though we’ll likely have more money tied with them in teasers just in case.
Best Bet: Steelers + 2, plus teasers (pool play: Steelers 60/40 in both SU and ATS contests).
Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams (-10.5)
What is it with the Falcons and big leads, even with Matt Ryan gone? The Falcons led the Saints 16-7 at halftime and 23-10 midway through the third quarter, but squandered the lead and lost 27-26 as they still covered as 5.5-point dogs. Even while he was riding the bench the past few years, I always suspected Marcus Mariota might still be among the top half of the QBs in the league. I might not put him there yet, but he should be able to keep the Falcons within double digits here against the Rams who didn’t look so sharp in the opener (granted, it was against the Bills).
Best Bet: Falcons + 10.5 (pool play: Falcons 67/33 in ATS contests through Rams still 75/25 in SU pools, which means I give the Falcons a shot on the money like as it’s available at + 400 and higher). Update: line is down to + 10 at most books, but we would still take it.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-10)
This is another early lean of mine from “The Greg Peterson Experience” on Sunday night/early Monday morning, and I’m thrilled that’s it’s not the + 8.5 I was expecting but now in double digits (update: for those who didn't grab + 10, the Seahawks are still playable at + 8.5 or higher). I was originally just fading Trey Lance and I’m not alone even at this network (Michael Lombardi, Mitch Moss, etc.) in saying he wasn’t ready to take over the 49ers’ starting QB job, and then I liked it even more after the Seahawks went toe-to-toe with the Broncos on Monday night in their 17-16 upset. Considering the lines have gotten shorter on my other early leans, this is probably my favorite play of the week.
Best Bet: Seahawks + 10 (pool play: Seahawks 67/33 in ATS contests though 49ers still 67/33 in SU pools).
Cincinnati Bengals (-8) at Dallas Cowboys
Both teams are off to 0-1 starts as the Bengals suffered the Super Bowl loser hangover right out of the gate as they nearly rallied to beat the Steelers (who gets a potential game-winning PAT blocked?), but the Cowboys looked even worse in their 19-3 loss to the Buccaneers and that was even before Dak Prescott injured his right hand in the fourth quarter. The advance line on this game was Cowboys -2.5, but with backup Cooper Rush being pressed into duty the Bengals are 7.5- to 8-point road favorites. A lot of bettors will use a 6-point tease to move the Bengals under a field goal (that’s my preference), but those who feel the line has been overadjusted will gladly take more than a TD on the home dog (I’m just not sure I can do it). Update: the line is down to Bengals -7 as of early Sunday morning, so you can tease them down to -1.
Best Bet: Pass, except Bengals in teasers (pool play: Bengals around 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 85/15 in SU pools).
Houston Texans at Denver Broncos (-10)
The Broncos came up painfully short in their Monday night loss to the Seahawks (everyone still stunned that new coach Nathaniel Hackett took the ball out of Russell Wilson’s hands and preferred the leg of Brandon McManus on a 64-yard FG attempt). Meanwhile, Davis Mills and the Texans should have beaten the Colts but came away with a 20-20 tie easily covering as 7-point dogs. I can’t pass up the added points here against a Denver team that still isn’t going to be as good as the Colts..
Best Bet: Texans + 10 (pool play: Texans 67/33 in ATS contests though Broncos still around 70/30 in SU pools).
Arizona Cardinals at Las Vegas Raiders (-6)
I know the Chiefs are the Chiefs and Andy Reid is gold with time to prepare (Week 1s, off a bye, etc.), but I was still most disappointed in myself for getting sucked into backing the Cardinals after the line went to + 6 vs. the Chiefs. I’m not going to fall for the banana in the tailpipe again, especially as I expect the Raiders to bounce back from their loss to the Chargers.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Raiders 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-10)
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense wasn’t in sync (hmmm, maybe showing up at OTAs and playing at least some in the preseason might not be a bad idea), but he owns the Bears at 22-5 SU and 20-7 ATS in his career so it’s a little hard to pull the trigger even with the Bears getting double digits. Besides, we’re trying to figure out if the Bears are “mudders” and really benefited from playing in the slop in their 19-10, come-from-behind upset of the 49ers. If the line continues to get steamed to 10.5 because of support for Rodgers, I’ll probably add this to my list of Best Bets, but for now I’ll pass.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Bears 55/45 in ATS contests – increase to 60/40 if your contest has + 10.5 – but Packers still 80/20 in SU pools).
Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills (-10)
The Titans let me down big-time in their opener as they were dominating the Giants 13-0 at halftime and that lead looks safe with Derrick Henry is usually able to help control the clock and grind out wins from that point. I thought I was sitting pretty in my Survivor pools, but they let the Giants rally for the 21-20 upsets. Still, as dominant as the Bills were in their 31-10 rout of the Rams on opening night last Thursday, I can’t pass up the 4th double-digit dog on this week’s card.
Best Bet: Titans + 10 (pool play: Titans 67/33 in ATS contests, though still using Bills 75/25 in SU pools).
Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5)
The Vikings were my favorite early bet on the Week 2 when the line was bet up to + 3 on Sunday night (and hope listeners/readers were able to grab it as someone sure did as it’s hard to find better than + 2 now, though several books are up to 2.5 as of early Sunday). The Vikings’ offense was clicking with Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, etc. and can match the Eagles score for score. The Eagles looked impressive at times, though they let the Lions get the back-door cover (so I won’t be worried even if the Vikings fall behind). With the + 3s probably long gone, we’ll stick with the Vikings as the last leg in our teasers.
Best Bet: Pass, except for Vikings in teasers (pool play: Vikings 60/40 in ATS contest and probably slightly more than 50/50 in SU pools).