Tuley's Takes Today 9/21: Breakdown of entire NFL Week 3 card, plus Wednesday MLB

By Dave Tuley  (VSiN.com senior reporter) 

Mitch_Trubisky

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.

Regular readers know I’m a dog-or-pass bettor, but unfortunately I don’t feel I’ve had as successful start to the season as expected with all these dogs barking. Dogs are 17-13-1 ATS (56.7 percent) with one pick-’em, but I’ve been on a lot of the losing dogs (including the Saints, Steelers and Seahawks last week) while watching a lot of the dogs I’ve been passing on come through with covers.

Week 2 was especially wild with huge comeback wins by the Dolphins (60-1 on the in-game money line), Jets (25-1) and Cardinals (25-1). Unfortunately I wasn’t on any of those pre-flop or in-game.

However, I still feel validated that we’re looking at the NFL cards the right way as all this parity and close games indicates that dogs should keep barking and there should be more opportunities moving forward.

Let’s get to my “takes” on the Week 3 full card. Per usual, I’ll give my Best Bet on each game (even if it means I’m passing, which is a valid decision) and also my “pool play” strategy for those who are in contests where you have to play 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.

THURSDAY

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (-4.5)

The Thursday nighter gives us a battle between co-leaders in the AFC North as the Steelers and Browns are 1-1 and also tied with the Ravens atop the division (with the Bengals a game behind at 0-2) as all four teams lost in Week 2. The Browns should have beaten the Jets if Kareem Hunt or Nick Chubb had gone down in-bounds like they were supposed to, but instead they allowed the Jets to get the ball back and Joe Flacco threw 2 TD passes wrapped around an onside kick to rally for a 31-30 upset. The Steelers came up short vs. the Patriots, but I don’t see why the Browns should be favored by more than a field goal here as the advance line last week was Browns -3 but is now over -4 (and was at 5 at some books, including DraftKings, on Tuesday). Mitch Trubisky and the Steelers’ offense didn’t look as good as they did in the Week 1 win at the Bengals, but they should benefit from facing a Cleveland defense that is allowing an average of 17 points in the fourth quarters so far this season. The Steelers also have the edge on defense and should be able to contain the Jacoby Brissett-led Browns offense.   

Best Bet: Steelers + 4.5 (pool play: Steelers in all my rare SU and ATS contests that use the Thursday night game).

SUNDAY

Baltimore Ravens (-3) at New England Patriots

The Ravens’ also blew a big lead in their Week 2 loss to the Dolphins as they were rolling along before the collapse. This line also looks like it could be on the rise as the NFL Betting Splits page on VSiN.com (with info from DraftKings) shows 90 percent of the bets and money on the Ravens early this week. But even if this gets to 3.5, I don’t think I’ll be able to pull the trigger on the Patriots, who lost 20-7 to that same Miami team and haven’t shown the same offensive firepower (7 points vs. Dolphins, 17 vs. the Steelers) to keep up with a Baltimore offense that is averaging 31 points per game behind QB Lamar Jackson.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Ravens 60/40 in ATS contests – lower if a contest has line at Ravens -3.5 – and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).

Buffalo Bills (-5.5) at Miami Dolphins

This was one of the plays I gave out on “The Greg Peterson Experience” (my weekly appearance is 12:15 a.m. ET/9:15 p.m. PT Sunday night, or 15 minutes into the archived version) and in my earlier columns this week as I thought we wouldn’t get any better than Dolphins + 4.5. I was wrong about that as the Bills routed the Titans 41-7 on Monday night and this line has been adjusted up to 5.5, but that’s OK with us a 5 is less of a key number than 4, so we’ll let our original bet ride. It’s scary to fade the Bills again with how dominant they’ve been in routs of the Rams and Titans, but Tua Tagoviola and the Dolphins showed they can get in a shootout with anyone.

Best Bet: Dolphins + 5.5, though if you haven’t bet yet, I’d wait for + 6 (pool play: Dolphins 60/40 in ATS contests, but Bills still 67/33 in SU pools).

Cincinnati Bengals (-5) at New York Jets

The Bengals are certainly suffering from the Super Bowl loser hangover as they’re off to an 0-2 start. They should get in the win column here, that is as long as Joe Burrow doesn’t keep having to face pressure from a porous offensive line. The Jets were certainly impressive in rallying to beat the Browns behind Joe Flacco (and the Browns failing to run out the clock), but I can’t trust either of those things to happen two weeks in a row so I’m also passing on this home dog.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Bengals 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).

New Orleans Saints (-2.5 -120) at Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have been more competitive than expected (though both of their games against the Browns and Giants have been lined around pick-’em so it shouldn’t be too surprising), but I believe they’re taking a step up in class here against the Saints. I can’t take them at such a short price here, but they’re a prime teaser play as we can move the line up over a touchdown. This is a good place to list the preferred teaser plays for this week (though they’ve been underperforming for us so far) as I’ll use the Panthers in a 2-team, 6-point teaser at + 8.5 in combination with the Titans + 8.5 vs. the Raiders in Sunday’s early games. Other potential teaser plays include the Packers + 8 at the Buccaneers, Falcons + 8 at Seahawks, Broncos + 7.5 vs. the 49ers on Sunday night and the Cowboys + 8.5 at the Giants on Monday night.

Best Bet: Panthers-Titans in 6-point teaser, plus other teaser plays (pool play: Panthers 55/45 in ATS contests but Saints 55/45 in SU pools).

DAndre_Swift

Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-6)

This is the other early Week 3 pick I gave out Sunday night and in my columns as I took the Lions + 7.5. There were some + 7s in the market and I advised listeners/readers to be it ASAP and sure enough it was gone by Monday morning. After the Vikings lost 24-7 to the Eagles on Monday night, the line has since dropped to + 6. Part of me believes I should pass at the current number, but I think it’s going to still be one of my Circa/Westgate contest plays, so I guess that means I still think the Lions are worth a bet at + 6. The Lions were 11-6 ATS last year as they were competitive in most of their games despite a 3-13-1 overall record, and they’re off to a 2-0 ATS start this year with their back-door cover vs. the Eagles in Week 1 and their 36-27 win vs. the Commanders this past Sunday. Jared Goff has never looked better in spreading the ball around to all weapons and the defense is good enough to contain the Vikings’ potent offense.

Best Bet: Lions + 6 or better (pool play: Lions 60/40 in ATS contests, but the Vikings still 67/33 in SU pools).

Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) at Indianapolis Colts

There’s probably no team that’s off to a more disappointing start than the Colts, and that includes teams off to the dreaded 0-2 start. The Colts were expected to win the AFC South and be a Super Bowl contender but have opened with a 20-20 tie at the lowly Texans and were blown out 24-0 by lowly Jaguars. I would normally love a team in this spot as a home underdog but I just can’t pull the trigger with how bad Matt Ryan and the Indy offense has looked along with how good Patrick Mahomes and the KC offense has looked. I’m passing on using the Chiefs teased down to virtually pick-’em, but I’m sure others will take that option.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Chiefs 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).

Las Vegas Raiders (-2) at Tennessee Titans

Both these teams are off to disappointing 0-2 starts. This isn’t quite a must-win game for either team, but it’s close. The Raiders were in complete control at halftime against the Cardinals and were the victim of one of Sunday’s biggest collapses as they couldn’t contain Kyler Murray. The Titans should also have a win as they dominated the Giants in the first half of their opener before a similar collapse, and then were routed by the Bills. I still have the Titans rated as the better overall team, but will go with the aforementioned 2-team, 6-point teaser. 

Best Bet: TItans + 8.5/Panthers + 8.5 (pool play: Titans 55/45 in SU and ATS contests).

Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) at Washington Commanders

We have yet another home underdog (nine in all as of early Wednesday), and while I’ve only been willing to tease a couple of them, I’m going to dive in with the Commanders, though I’m waiting for the line to hopefully reach + 7. This line was Eagles -3 on the advance line last week but has steamed to 6.5 after their impressive 24-7 win vs. the Vikings on Monday night. VSiN’s NFL Betting Split page shows 90 percent of the best and 85 percent of the money on the Eagles, so I don’t see how the public doesn’t continue to bet this to a full TD. Carson Wentz is playing like the Colts should have kept him at QB as he rallied the Commanders past the Jaguars in the opener and nearly brought them back vs. the Lions last week. We’re expecting the back-door cover to be open late in this game as well.

Best Bet: Commanders + 7, but will settle if it stays at 6.5 (pool play: Commanders 60/40 in ATS contests – higher if offered 7 or especially 7.5 – though Eagles still 75/25 in SU pools).

Houston Texans at Chicago Bears (-3 EV)

Both teams have been very competitive with the Texans tying the Colts in Week 1 and getting the back-door cover in a 16-9 loss at the Broncos in Week 2 while the Bears upset the 49ers in Week 1 and nearly covered at the Packers in Week 2 (Justin Fields sure looked like he broke the plane of the goal-line on his late QB sneak that would have probably led to a back-door cover). This would be closer to pick-’em on a neutral field so it makes sense for the Bears to be favored by 3 at home (DraftKings has this juiced toward the Texans, so it could dip to 2.5). Some might see that as a buy sign on the Bears -2.5, but I’d be more inclined to tease the Texans up to + 8.5. 

Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Texans 55/45 in ATS contests, but Bears 60/40 in SU pools).

Jacksonville Jaguars at Los Angeles Chargers (-7)

We’ll add any potential play on this game later in the week as we’re still waiting for official word on Chargers QB Justin Herbert. He was beat up pretty badly and suffered fractured rib cartilage in the loss at the Chiefs last Thursday night, but he still gutted it out to get Charger backers the back-door cover. Coach Brandon Staley might opt to rest Herbert and start Chase Daniel instead. That would definitely have an impact on this line. While the temptation is also to tease the Chargers down to virtually pick-’em, I would be interested in the much-improved Jaguars if Herbert starts and this line ticks up higher than a TD. Check out columns here through the rest of the week to see what I decide to do.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Jaguars 55/45 in ATS contests – higher if offered + 7.5 or better – but Chargers around 75/25 in SU pools).

Aaron_Rodgers

Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5)

Here we come with our top teaser options in the Sunday afternoon session of games, starting with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers as short road dogs at the Buccaneers, who are battling a bunch of injuries. Granted, Tom Brady usually gets the job done with whomever he has to work with, but Rodgers is also working with his patchwork group of receivers and should keep this within a touchdown.

Best Bet: Packers + 8.5/Falcons + 8 teaser  (pool play: Packers 55/45 in ATS contests but still Buccaneers 55/45 in SU pools).

Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks (-2)

This is the second half of the above teaser as the Falcons are another team that has been surprisingly competitive in the early going as they barely lost to the Saints in Week 1 and then got the back-door cover in a 31-27 loss to the Rams in Week 2. Marcus Mariota has stepped back into the starting role and is spreading the ball around for the Falcons while the Seahawks took a step back in their 27-7 no-show vs. the 49ers after upsetting the Broncos in Week 1.

Best Bet: Falcons + 8/Packers + 8.5 teaser (pool play: Falcons 55/45 in ATS contests, though Seahawks 55/45 in SU pools).

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals are an enigma as they let us down in Week 1 as they were routed by the Chiefs, and then they trailed the Raiders 20-0 at halftime this past Sunday before Kyler Murray single-handedly (and with his feet) rallied them to a 29-23 OT shocker. The Rams bounced back from their opening Thursday loss to the Bills as they looked better in beating the Falcons 31-27, though they did fail to cover. I do expect the Rams to have a better game plan to contain Murray, so I’m passing on the Cards for now but might add them later in the week (we’re waiting to see if this gets bet back up to 4)

Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Cardinals 55/45 in ATS contests though Rams still 60/40 in SU pools).

San Francisco 49ers (-1.5) at Denver Broncos

The Sunday nighter gives us the 9th home dog of the week. The advance line on this game was Broncos -3, but now it’s flipped to the 49ers -1.5. I believe this validates my earlier comments (and I wasn’t the only one) that the 49ers were a better team if Jimmy Garoppolo stayed the starter instead of Trey Lance, who is now lost for the season with a fractured right ankle. But while the 49ers are now in better hands, the play is to tease the Broncos up over a TD even though Russell Wilson’s Denver debut hasn’t gone as well as planned.

Best Bet: Pass, except Broncos in teasers (pool play: Broncos 55/45 in both SU and ATS contests).

MONDAY

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants (-2.5)

We close out Week 3 with another lukewarm opinion about a short dog that we’re going to tease up over a touchdown. The Giants are a surprising 2-0 with narrow wins over the Titans and Panthers, but I’m still not sure they should be favored here. The Cowboys, with Cooper Rush, really stepped up (especially on defense) to upset the Bengals 20-17 as 7-point home dogs and there’s no reason they can’t do the same against the Giants.

Best Bet: Pass, except Cowboys in teasers (pool play: Cowboys 60/40 in SU and ATS contests).

And now for an abbreviated version of our regular daily column:

On Tuesday, we lost our Best Bet on the Cardinals 1st 5 + 105 at the Padres as the Cardinals’ offense didn’t give Adam Wainwright enough support as they trailed 3-0 after the first 5 innings, but at least we won our secondary play on the Royals 1st 5 + 100 as Zack Greinke gave up 3 runs to the Twins in the top of the 2nd inning, but the KC offense did bail him out by scoring 4 runs to lead 4-3 through 5 innings.

Let’s recap the rest of Tuesday’s (full-game) betting results and look for more plays on Wednesday. In addition, we update our early NFL Week 3 recommendations. In addition to moving our early-week NFL recommendations into the main part of the column above, I do want to post a short college football underdog for Friday in case it gets bet to favoritism.

Tuesday’s Recaps

MLB: Faves/dogs split 8-8 on Tuesday with the biggest upsets by the Diamondbacks (+ 250 in 5-2, Game 2 win at the Dodgers) and the A's (+ 205 in 4-1 win vs. the Mariners). The Yankees (-320) beat the Pirates 9-8 on a walk-off grand slam by Giancarlo Stanton, while Aaron Judge hit his 60th homer of the season. Road teams went 10-6. Unders 10-5-1 with push in the Royals’ 5-4 win vs, the Twins with a betting total of 9 runs.

More MLB: Faves lead 1,317-858 SU (60.6 percent) on the season with 34 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 1,167-1,050 (52.6 percent, usually closer to 54 percent but has been on the rise). Unders lead 1,092-1,011-116 (51.9 percent).

Wednesday’s Takes

Rays 1st 5 + 110 vs. Astros: We’ll count on Tampa’s Corey Kluber (10-9, 1.19 WHIP) to keep the Rays in this game early. In addition, the Astros are cruising along on their way to the AL’s top seed while the Rays are trying to get the AL’s No. 1 wild-card spot. That didn’t help with the Rays’ motivation Tuesday in a 5-0 loss to the Astros, but at some point the Astros could start resting some starters so we’ll be looking for some spots to fade down the stretch of the regular season. Our secondary plays have sometimes been outperforming our supposed Best Bets, so let’s add a play on the A’s 1st 5 + 0.5 + 100 (BetMGM overnight line) vs. the Mariners with James Kaprielan, who has come through for us a few times this summer. The A’s are also + 165 on the straight 1st 5 line.

Thursday: Virginia Tech + 1.5 vs. West Virginia: We’re not sure why Virginia Tech (2-1) is a home dog vs. West Virginia (1-2), but we’ll take the + 1.5. The VSiN Betting Splits Page (with info from DraftKings) shows 75 percent of the bets and money on West Virginia, but we’ll bet now in case the public or some sharp bettors see it our way and bet Virginia Tech to favoritism.

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