I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we miss midweek MACtion here in the Tuley’s Takes home office.
Not only was it great watching our alma mater, Northern Illinois, march to an unexpected MAC Championship, it was great to have football games to bet during the middle of the week. We were thinking about that a lot Wednesday night as we watched our best bet of the night (the Bulls + 2.5 at the Cavaliers as posted here yesterday and widely available at + 3 most of the day) never really got close to covering as the Cavaliers rolled to a 115-92 victory. In retrospect, we should have stuck with the Cavs, who we’ve been on a lot during their 9-game cover run.
But, hey, it’s Thursday and that means the return of football to kick off the weekend.
Before we get to my best bet in the Steelers-Vikings game, let’s get to our recaps of last night’s action in pro and college basketball as well as the NHL (note: I’ve been tracking NHL First Period Over/Unders, so maybe I’ll switch to those next week instead of trying to make NBA plays).
NBA: Faves went 9-4 SU on Wednesday, but dogs led 7-6 ATS as the Pistons (+ 5 vs. Wizards), Hornets (+ 6 vs. 76ers) and Blazers (+ 15 at Warriors) covered in SU losses. The outright upsets were by the Thunder (+ 7.5 at Raptors), Heat (+ 6.5 vs. Bucks) and Rockets (+ 3.5 vs. Nets). Dogs are 38-21 ATS (64.4 percent) so far in December.
More NBA: Overs went 8-5 on Wednesday night, improving to 36-23-1 (61 percent) in December. However, Unders still lead 201-173-5 (53.7 percent) on the season, but the gap is narrowing with the recent runs of Overs.
NHL: Faves went 3-1 with the lone upset by the Canucks (+ 120 in 2-1 shootout win vs. the Bruins). Avalanche (-170 in 7-3 win at Rangers), Devils (-150 in 3-0 win vs. Flyers) and Golden Knights (-145 in 5-4 come-from-behind win vs. Stars) won as chalk. Over/Unders split 2-2.
CBB: No. 15 UConn was the only Top 25 to lose Wednesday night, but it was NOT an upset as West Virginia won and covered as a 2.5 point home favorite as UConn was missing two starters. The game was part of the Big East-Big 12 Battle.
Steelers + 3 at Vikings: The Thursday nighter gives us two teams trying to stay in the playoff hunt. The Steelers rallied and then held off the Ravens 20-19 on Sunday to tighten the AFC race while the Vikings were dealt a blow to their NFC wild-card hopes with their 29-27 loss to the Lions on the last play of the game. Earlier this year, the Vikings barely beat the Lions on a last-second FG, while the Steelers played those same Lions to a 16-16 tie. In addition, the Vikings lost 34-31 to the Ravens. All of these common opponents have me wondering why the Vikings are favored by a field goal, especially as they’re 2-3 ATS at home, so I don’t want to hear about home-field advantage. And all these teams are playing close games against each other, so who do you trust more in a close game? Ben Roethlisberger or Kirk Cousins? Mike Tomlin or Mike Zimmer? The Steelers’ D or the Vikings’ D? It’s 3-for-3 for the road dog in my opinion. We missed the opener of Steelers 4, but this line is Vikings -3 -120 at most books, so hopefully it gets back to 3.5, though we’re definitely looking for the outright upset.
Here’s our other NFL Week 14 best bets from Point Spread Weekly. See this week’s issue for my reasoning behind liking each play; our main purpose here is checking the line movement to decide whether to bet ASAP or to wait until closer to kickoff.
Raiders + 9.5 at Chiefs: I originally posted that I didn't think this line would get to 10, but if you haven't bet the Raiders yet you should probably wait as Circa and a few other books went to 10 on Thursday morning. If you can grab that, go for it, though I still like this bet down to + 8.5.
Ravens + 2.5 at Browns:
Circa and some offshores have gone to 3, so let’s wait to see if it becomes more widely available. I also recommended the Ravens as a top two-team, 6-point teaser play as we move the Ravens to + 8.5 just in case. My top recommendation in PSW was to use Ravens + 8.5 with the 49ers teased from + 1.5 to + 7.5 at the Bengals, but there's been a change of favorite so the preferred side would now be the Bengals teased from + 1.5 to + 7.5 (though there's a decent chance a two-team, 6-point teaser hits no matter how we play it if the games come down to a FG). Other teaser options are the Seahawks teased down from -7.5 to -1.5 and the Rams teased up from + 2.5 to + 8.5.
Washington + 4 vs. Cowboys:
Here in Vegas, the South Point has gone to Cowboys -5 and William Hill is at -4.5, so wait to see where this line peaks.
Lions + 8 at Broncos:
This line has also gone up to Broncos -8.5 at a few books and -9 at Circa, so wait to grab the best number you can (Thursday morning update: Circa and the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas have gone to 10 along with offshore giant Pinnacle, so definitely wait).
Good luck today (and every day!).