Thursday was a busy day as we waited around for NFL Week 4 to kick off with the Thursday nighter. I did USC and UCLA betting previews for the Los Angeles Times, did some editing/posting of stories on our website at VSiN.com (again, I’m preaching to the choir for subscribers who know how much great sports betting content there is here, but those on trial basis should check it out as much as possible) and spent an inordinate time at the animal clinic and pharmacies for me and my dog, Beemo.
Unfortunately, my Best Bets on Thursday didn’t help pay for any of that as my top play on the Dolphins + 4 came up short in their 27-15 loss at the Bengals. It didn’t help that Tua Tagovailoa was knocked out of the game, but Teddy Bridgewater still had a chance to pull out the upset until an untimely INT. We also lost our lone MLB 1st 5 play on the Rangers as they trailed the Mariners 6-4 after 5 innings.
Let’s recap the rest of the (full-game) betting results from Thursday, update our season-long betting stats in MLB and NFL and give our Best Bets for Friday (including CFB plays for Friday and Saturday. And then, as we’ve started to do this season, we’ll update the rerun of our Wednesday column where I give my “takes” on the full NFL Week 4 schedule.
NFL: Bengals beat Dolphins 27-15 on Thursday Night Football to kick off Week 4. The Bengals also covered after closing as 4-point home favorites and the game stayed Under the closing betting total of 49 points.
More NFL: Favorites improved to 27-20-1 SU on the season with 1 pick-'em (Commanders-Lions in Week 2), but underdogs still lead 27-19-2 ATS (58.7 percent). Home teams improved to 26-22-1 SU and 24-23-2 ATS. Unders improved to 30-18-1 (62.5 percent), while primetime Unders improved to 8-3 (after going 1-2 in Week 3).
CFB: No. 19 BYU had to rally in the 2nd half to beat Utah State 38-26 on Thursday night, but did NOT cover as a 25.5-point home favorite. The game went Over the betting total of 60 points on Utah State’s TD with 1:09 left (the Aggies were already covering the spread before the “meaningless” score). The only other FBS (Division I) team in action Thursday night (as an “extra write-in game” on the Don Best screen as it was moved up to beat oncoming Hurricane Ian) was South Carolina (-40.5), which routed South Carolina State 50-10, but did NOT cover vs. consensus closing line of -40.5.
MLB: Faves went 7-3 on Thursday with the AL wild-card hopeful Mariners (-120) beating the Rangers 10-9 late in 11 innings. The upsets were by the Cubs (+ 162 in 2-0 win vs. Phillies, who lost their 5th straight), the Marlins (+ 150 in 4-2 win at Brewers) and Guardians (+ 120 in 2-1 win vs. Rays). Home teams went 7-3. Unders went 7-3.
More MLB: Faves lead 1,389-900 SU (60.7 percent) on the season with 36 pick-'ems (faves usually win around 59 percent; still ahead of pace and well over 60 percent). Home teams lead 1,230-1,104 (52.7 percent, usually closer to 54 percent but had been on the rise but slipping lately). Unders lead 1,146-1,071-118 (51.7 percent).
Tulane + 2.5 at Houston: Clearly, Houston is only favored because it has home-field advantage in this AAC battle, but I’m not so sure Tulane shouldn’t still be favored. The Wave fell for the first time this season in a 27-24 loss vs. Southern Mississippi, but outgained them 451 yards to 253. Tulane is also + 125 on the money line as I clearly think it can pull the outright upset.
Saturday CFB Takes:
Virginia + 3 at Duke
UL-Lafayette + 9 vs. South Alabama
Texas A&M + 3.5 at Mississippi State
White Sox 1st 5 + 0.5 + 105 at Padres:
This will be one of our last swagger plays of the season as the White Sox snapped a 9-game losing streak on Thursday. We know San Diego’s Yu Darvish has the edge on Chicago’s Davis Martin, but the swagger angle still has me on this play, at least for the 1st 5 innings. We’re taking the + 0.5 as that’s worked for us several times lately with these big lines and just needing a tie for the win. The straight 1st 5 ML will be around + 160 while the White Sox are a juicy + 180 on the full-game money line for those who think they can really play spoiler.
And, as promised, here's the rerun of our Wednesday column where we give our "takes" on the full NFL Week 4 card:
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 bet 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 worked very well so far this NFL season as underdogs are 27-18-2 ATS (60 percent) vs. the consensus closing lines in Vegas through the first three weeks (note: we’ve graded one game as closing pick-’em: Commanders at Lions in Week 2, so that’s why our stats have just 47 games).
During the first two weeks of the season, we were a little disappointed as we weren’t killing it as much as we would expect with so many dogs covering, but went 3-1 ATS with our Best Bets in this column last week (plus also hit our top 2-team, 6-point teaser play with the Dolphins and Lions), so we’re feeling better about ourselves and our decision-making process with these dogs.
Personally, I have one bit of bad dog news as I had to take one of my dogs, Beemo, to the vet on Tuesday as he got into a bag of chocolate chip cookies that I made the other day. Hopefully, he and the rest of my dogs this weekend are healthy and strong.
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.
Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals (-4)
Dolphins + 4 LOSS
(pool play: Dolphins in all of my rare SU and ATS contests that use the Thursday night game).
Minnesota Vikings (-3) vs. New Orleans Saints (in London)
This is the first “international” game this season from London, so beware that it starts at 9:30 a.m. ET/6:30 a.m. PT on Sunday. The Vikings have been an up-and-down team already in the young season with a Week 1 win over the NFC North rival Packers, then getting dominated by the Eagles in Week 2 before rallying to beat the Lions 28-24 in Week 3 (and failing to cover as 6.5-point home favorites). Now, they’re 2.5-point faves at most Las Vegas books and -3 at DraftKings against a Saints team that has lost two straight games to the Buccaneers and Panthers after barely beating the Falcons 27-26 in the opener. The Vikings are the better team right now, but not by a wide margin and I’m not going to lay the points on the road chalk. Instead, this is the right time to talk about our preferred teasers where we capture the key numbers of 3 and 7. My top “advantage teaser” is to take a 2-team, 6-point teaser with the Saints + 8.5 tied with the Falcons + 8 vs. the Browns as well as other combinations with the Cardinals + 7.5 at the Panthers, Broncos + 8.5 at the Raiders and Rams + 8.5 at the 49ers on Monday Night Football. Note: another potential teaser play is the Buccaneers teased up to + 8 vs. the Chiefs in the Sunday nighter, but we’re not sure if that’s going to be played in Tampa or moved because of Hurricane Ian.
Best Bet: Saints + 8.5 or better with Falcons + 8 vs. the Browns, plus other teasers (pool play: Saints around 55/45 in ATS contests – higher if getting + 3 or 3.5 – but Vikings still 55/45 in SU pools). Update: The Falcons' line had dipped to + 1, so that's not as strong of a teaser play, so as of Friday our preferred top teaser is Saints + 8.5/Cardinals + 7.5.
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (-3.5)
I’ve already gone on record with the Titans getting more than a field goal in this coin-flip game at the Colts. Both teams earned their first wins of the season in Week 3 after slow starts (the Titans lost to the Giants and Bills before breaking through against the Raiders while the Colts were 0-1-1 with a tie vs. the Texans and a blowout loss to the Jaguars before rallying to beat the Chiefs 20-17 on Sunday). These teams were expected to be battling for the AFC South title, but instead they’re chasing the first-place Jaguars with the loser of this game in a bigger hole. Tennessee QB Ryan Tannehill played better in the win over the Raiders, plus Derrick Henry is still a beast.
Best Bet: Titans + 3.5 (pool play: Titans 75/25 in ATS contests – lower at 3 or especially 2.5 – plus slightly better than 50/50 in SU pools). Update: shop around as + 4 became more widely available on Thursday.
Chicago Bears at New York Giants (-3)
We have an unlikely matchup of 2-1 teams here with the Bears visiting the Giants. The Bears are setting offensive football back by the decade, but it’s working as they continue to wait for Justin Fields to develop. The Bears are No. 6 in rushing offense and take on a Giants’ rushing defense that ranked No. 28, and we don’t think it matters if starting RB David Montgomery (knee, ankle injuries) is able to go as backup Khalil Herbert (157 yards, 2 TDs vs. the Texans) might be the bigger threat anyway.
Best Bet: Bears + 3, but waiting for 3.5 (pool play: Bears 67/33 in ATS contests – even higher if offered 3.5 – and we’ll call for outright upset with Bears 55/45 in SU pools). Update: 3.5 looking less likely, so we now advise grabbing the + 3 ASAP.
Buffalo Bills (-3) at Baltimore Ravens
Even though this is in the cluttered 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT window, this is arguably the marquee game of Week 4. Both teams are just 2-1 with the Ravens inexplicably losing to the Dolphins in Week 2 and the Bills falling to the Dolphins in Week 3 despite outgaining them 497 yards to 212. I successfully faded the Bills last week with the Dolphins, but I don’t think I’m going to be willing to do that again even if this gets back to + 3.5 or even 4. In addition to an explosive offense, the Bills are No. 1 in total defense, allowing just 214 yards per game while the Ravens are last at 457.3.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Bills 60/40 in ATS contests and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).
Los Angeles Chargers (-4.5) at Houston Texans
The much-hyped Chargers sure know how to throw in a clunker. They were blown out 38-10 by the Jaguars in Week 3 even though Justin Herbert was able to start. And don’t forget, they also lost to these Texans, 41-29, in Week 16 last season. The advance line over the summer for this game was Chargers -8.5, but after being at -7 last week with the extent of Herbert’s rib injury being unknown, it has continued to drop below a TD to the current line of 4.5. While I wouldn’t take it if the line drops any lower, I’ll grab the Texans + 4.5 as they’ve been surprisingly competitive so far this season in their 20-20 tie vs. the Colts and their narrow losses to the Broncos and Bears.
Best Bet: Texans + 4.5 (pool play: Texans 67/33 in ATS contests, though Chargers still 60/40 in SU pools). Update: + 5 is now more widely available.
Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions (-4.5)
After ranking around the league’s best bets last season at 11-6 ATS despite a 3-13-1 SU record, the Lions are off to a 3-0 ATS start with a back-door cover vs. the Eagles in the opener, a 36-27 win over the Commanders in Week 2 and holding on for a cover in their 28-24 loss to the Vikings as 6.5-point underdogs. Most of their success has been as dogs, but now they’re being asked to lay more than a FG against a Seahawks team that started the post-Russell Wilson era with an upset of the Wilson-led Broncos before losing their last 2 games to the 49ers and Falcons. I can’t recommend either side in their current roles, though the Lions were short faves the week before they beat the Commanders in a game that closed pick-’em.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Seahawks 55/45 in ATS contests on principle, but Lions 60/40 in SU pools).
New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5)
This is another game where it’s hard to get excited for either side, even though it’s tempting to take the Jets plus the hook. The problem is the Jets might be getting QB Zach Wilson back after starting the season 1-2 with Joe Flacco. The Jets would be winless if not for the miracle win over the Browns in Week 2. We don’t know how sharp Wilson will be in his return while Pittsburgh fans are still waiting to see if Mitch Trubisky can get the Steelers back on the winning track (coach Mike Tomlin is trying to avoid his first losing season) or if they turn to rookie Kenny Pickett.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Jets 55/45 in ATS contests but Steelers 65/35 in SU pools).
Jacksonville Jaguars at Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5)
Many people are calling the Eagles (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS) the best team in the NFC, but don’t sleep on the Jaguars. They’re 2-1 SU and ATS with a Week 1 loss to the Commanders but back-to-back upsets of the Colts and Chargers. Now, a lot of people are pointing out that Herbert was less than 100 percent, but the Jaguars’ defense is legit after shutting out the Colts the week prior and then holding the Chargers to just 10 points. We expect the Eagles to score more than that, but it shouldn’t be too hard for an improved Trevor Lawrence to keep the Jaguars close for another upset or to just lose by a field goal.
Best Bet: Jaguars but waiting for + 7 (pool play: Jaguars 55/45 in ATS contests – higher at 7 or especially 7.5 – though Eagles still around 67/33 in SU pools).
Washington Commanders at Dallas Cowboys (-3)
The Cowboys’ defense, ranking No. 8 by allowing just 312.3 yards per game, has really picked up the slack for the loss of QB Dak Prescott. Backup QB Cooper Rush has played well, too, but it’s really the defense that has shined in holding the Bengals’ potent offense to 17 points and the Giants to 16 (and it also did its job in the Week 1, 19-3 loss to the Buccaneers). Carson Wentz has played well in flashes for the Commanders, but I don’t see him able to keep them in the game.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Cowboys 60/40 in ATS contests – lower if asked to lay -3.5 or more – and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Cleveland Browns (-1.5) at Atlanta Falcons
The Browns are off to a 2-1 start under Jacoby Brissett as he fills in until Deshaun Watson’s suspension is over, which was expected with a very talented team. In fact, they should be 3-0 if they hadn't blown the endgame vs. the Jets. The Falcons are 1-2, but have been more competitive than many people expected with a narrow loss to the Saints in the opener, a back-door cover at the Rams as 10-point dogs and a minor upset of the Seahawks. We’re not sure they can pull another upset of the Browns, but QB Marcus Mariota and the downhill running of RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson should be able to do enough to stay within a touchdown.
Best Bet: Pass, except for Falcons in teasers (pool play: Browns 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 67/33 in SU pools).
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers (-2)
Here’s another game where I can’t quite pull the trigger on the short underdog (and the Cardinals don’t instill much confidence after a 1-2 start with the only win being the miracle comeback to beat a lowly Raiders team in Week 2), but I’m again perfectly willing to tease the short dog up over a touchdown. The Panthers are in their fourth straight game that is close to pick-’em and we fully expect another close, one-score game like all three of their games have been so far this season.
Best Bet: Pass, except for Cardinals in teasers (pool play: Cardinals 55/45 in ATS contests, but Panthers still 55/45 in SU pools).
Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders (-2.5)
Here’s yet another game where I’m going to repeat myself: I don’t like the Broncos enough to call for the outright upset or to cover this short number, but I’ll tease them up over a touchdown. The Raiders are 0-3 SU and ATS, but the Broncos are struggling despite being 2-1 SU as they were upset by the Seahawks in the opener and have narrow wins vs. the Texans and 49ers. The AFC West as a whole hasn’t lived up to the preseason hype, but this could be a shootout like we were expecting from the division.
Best Bet: Pass, except for Broncos in teasers (pool play: Broncos 55/45 in ATS contests, though Raiders still 55/45 in SU pools).
New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers (-10)
This was my second early Week 4 play (along with the Titans + 3.5) when the openers came out Sunday afternoon. The advance line on this game was Packers -6.5, but it reopened -7.5 after the Packers beat the Buccaneers. In addition, New England QB Mac Jones suffered a high ankle sprain late in the Patriots 37-26 loss to the Ravens, so this line was adjusted to -9.5 rather quickly. With the news that Jones will miss several weeks and veteran Brian Hoyer would be pressed into service, this game crossed 10 to Packers -10.5 before getting bet back to 10. I think that’s an overadjustment, so I took the Pats at + 9.5 and rebet at + 10.5. Bill Belichick will certainly put Hoyer into the best position to succeed; besides, the Packers haven’t looked like world-beaters as they nearly failed to cover as 10-point favorites against the Bears and Aaron Rodgers didn’t look all that great in the 14-12 win vs. the Buccaneers (or the 23-7 loss vs. the Vikings for that matter).
Best Bet: Patriots + 10 or better (pool play: Patriots 67/33 in ATS contests, though Packers still 75/25 in SU pools). Update: Patriots available at + at William Hill books in Las Vegas and elsewhere.
Kansas City Chiefs (-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Sunday nighter rivals Bills-Ravens for the game of the week, but it’s hard to make a call with all the uncertainty of approaching Hurricane Ian. There’s been talk of moving this game to Minneapolis, though it now appears the NFL is trying to see if they can keep it in Tampa as Ian is expected to hit the area on Wednesday, though we’ll see how much damage it causes to Raymond James Stadium or the area in general. Our initial thought is that Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs have too much for the Bucs, but Tom Brady and Co. certainly know how to give themselves the best chance to win even when getting outplayed. This could be another potential teaser play on the short dog, but we’ll see if the game moves along with the spread (we’d expect the Chiefs to be favored by more points if moved to a neutral site, taking it out of the “teaser zone”). Check these “Tuley’s Takes Today” columns the rest of the week to see if I decide on what to do with this game.
Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Chiefs around 55/45 in all SU and ATS contests). Update: game is staying in Tampa after all, so line is down to pick-'em and I kinda like the Chiefs at that line.
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (-2)
Week 4 ends with another short underdog in a prime teaser role. With Jimmy Garoppolo now back in the starter role, these two teams are pretty evenly matched, though some might doubt that after the 49ers’ sloppy, lackluster 11-10 loss at the Broncos on Sunday night. But the Rams are still the defending champs and fully capable of staying within a touchdown. We’re hoping we have some teasers live to the Rams, but could potentially start teasers with the Rams to Week 5 games (early candidate look like the Colts teased up to + 8.5 at the Broncos, Packers teased down to -1.5 vs. the Giants, Browns teased up to + 8 vs. the Chargers and Bengals teased up to + 8.5 at the Ravens).
Best Bet: Pass, except for Rams in teasers (pool play: Rams 55/45 in ATS contests, but 49ers 55/45 in SU pools).