Tuley: Saturday Best Bets, updated ‘takes’ on full NFL Super Wild Card Weekend

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Saturday Best Bets, Friday Recaps

Friday was a long day in the Tuley’s Takes home office as we continued to get ready to send the kids back to college. And then it was a long night out of the office as we attended the “Big Check Ceremony” at the downtown D Hotel for Circa Sports Million and Circa Survivor and had a late dinner at Andiamo Steakhouse with last year’s Million champ Tony “DURBIFY” Gordon, last year Survivor winner Michael “MY COOL” Sax and fellow proxy Tom Carroll.
Note: for those looking for “Team Tuley’s Thoroughbred Takes,” we’ll be posting it at VSiN.com/horse-racing/ after the early scratches on the East Coast.
Back to Friday night, it was a fun celebration visiting again with a lot of the contestants we covered last weekend as they sweated out the final games of the NFL season, plus meeting new top finishers who weren’t here last weekend but came back to town to pick up their checks (both fake and real).
My VSiN boss Bill Adee – and sidekick last weekend as we tag-teamed our contest coverage – did a great job of summing up the highlights of the Circa big-check ceremony in the VSiN newsletter:

NFL Quick Links:
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Overheard at the gathering: The 3 Denver guys who won the $100,000 booby prize for finishing last out of 4,000-plus in Circa Million said they didn’t know they were dead last until the final week. They weren’t trying for the prize; they just sucked at picking games. . . . And the team (JED) that won a share of the $6 million Circa Survivor contest started with 24 entries by having four guys buy 6 entries apiece. At one point, they forgot to enter the picks for 7 of their 9 remaining entries, leaving them with 2 for the rest of the way.

As for my own picks on Friday, I won my Best Bet on the Devils-Ducks 1P Over 1.5 -160/Oilers-Sharks 1P Over -175 in a parlay at +155 to more than make up for the loss on our first 1P Over parlay on Thursday.
My top NBA play of Suns +3 at the Timberwolves was a loss at that price, but they only lost 121-116 so hopefully followers were patient and got the +6.5 closing price or at least +6 or +5.5. We also mentioned the Clippers as a potential swagger play, but they went off as 5-point home favorites over the Nuggets and lost outright (proving once again why we use the “dog-or-pass” approach).
Let’s get to the recap of Friday’s action and then look at Saturday’s menu. And then, as has become our custom around here, we’ll rerun our Wednesday column and update our “takes” on the NFL wild-card playoff games this weekend based on how the lines are moving.

Friday Recaps

NBA: Faves went 7-2 SU but dogs led 5-4 ATS with the Suns (+6.5 at Timberwolves), Magic (+5.5 at Jazz) and Pacers (+3.5 vs. Hawks) covering in SU losses. The upsets were by the Nuggets (+5 at Clippers) and Thunder (+4.5 at Bulls). Road teams went 6-3 SU and 7-2 ATS. Over/Unders split 4-4-1 with the push in NY-WAS (220).

More NBA: On the season, favorites lead 405-226 SU with 9 games closing pick-’em while underdogs still lead 320-293-18 ATS (52.2%). Home teams lead 387-253 SU and 329-294-17 ATS (52.8%). In totals wagering, Overs still lead 331-301-8 (52.4%).

NHL: Faves went 2-1 with the upset by the Jets (+145 in 4-1 win at Penguins). Road teams swept 3-0. Overs led 2-1, though all 3 games went Over 1.5 goals in 1st Period. On the season, faves lead 384-247 with 19 PKs. Home teams lead 332-306 with 4 neutral-site games. Unders still lead 309-306-27.

CBB: No. 3 Purdue beat Nebraska 73-55 as the only Top 25 team in action on Friday night. The Boilermakers also covered as 16-point home favorites.

Saturday NFL Best Bets

Seahawks-49ers Under 42: More on this game below, but total has been trending downward so grab it ASAP in case it drops further.

Jaguars +8.5/Giants +9 teaser: Also more on this 2-team, 6-point teaser below, but could also use Jaguars +8.5/Buccaneers +8.5, plus the Bengals’ line vs. the Ravens has come down to -8.5, so it’s back in the teaser zone.

NHL: None of the top 1P Over teams are facing each other (and no 1P Under combos hitting at a high enough rate to get me to look that way), so we’re passing on these plays on Saturday.

Here’s the rerun of Wednesday column with our “takes” on all 6 wild-card games this weekend, and then we add our updates with new news and how the lines are moving:

Welcome to the weekly Wednesday edition of “Tuley’s Takes Today” where we usually go over the full NFL schedule and now do the same for playoffs starting with super wild-card weekend.
For those who don’t know, we’ll give our Best Bet for each playoff game using our “dog-or-pass” approach. A big emphasis is put on timing our bets to get the best numbers, so we hope readers have made a habit of catching our weekly appearances on “The Greg Peterson Experience” (12:15 a.m. ET/9:15 p.m. PT on Sunday nights or 15 minutes into the archive) as we’re 33-20 ATS (62.2%) since the start of football season and 20-11 ATS (64.5%) since the start of November with the vast majority being our early bets on the NFL and this week included the Dolphins +11 at the Bills and the Buccaneers +3 vs. the Cowboys.
Those numbers look like they’re long-gone, so we’ll still give our opinion of what bettors should do if wagering later in the week and weekend (and then we update our “takes” in the daily columns leading up to game day). I’ll also include my “pool play” strategies that I use to just do during the regular season as I’ve been receiving more invites for playoff contests where we have to pick every game and assume many of our loyal readers are getting involved with those as well.
Note: Odds courtesy of DraftKings as of early Wednesday morning unless otherwise noted. Check out VSIN.com’s live NFL odds page for current odds.

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-9.5)

The 49ers are arguably the hottest team in the league with a 10-game winning streak and 8-2 ATS even after having to go with third-string QB Brock Purdy. They have the No. 1 defense in yards allowed per game (and giving up just 16.3 points per game) and the No. 5 offense. Even with the line possibly going to double digits, it’s hard to pull the trigger. I don’t subscribe to the faulty “it’s hard to beat a team three times” when one team is clearly superior to the other as the 49ers beat the Seahawks 21-13 (covering as 3.5-point road faves) in Week 15 and 27-7 way back Week 2 in the game in San Francisco. The only play we like in this game in the Under as you can see both of the previous meetings were more than a touchdown Under this total of 42.5 as we expect the 49ers to shut down the Seahawks’ offense again and grind out a victory.

Best Bet: Under 42.5 (pool play: Seahawks 55/45 in ATS contests on principle, but 49ers 90/10 in SU pools).
Friday update: total is down to 42 at most books, so grab best number you can.

Los Angeles Chargers (-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars

After losing their season-opener to the Commanders and then shutting out the Colts 24-0 in Week 2, the Jaguars’ 38-10 rout of the Chargers in Week 3 is where they really showed that this wasn’t the same ole Jags. The Chargers are still more of a public team, but that’s really the only reason why they’re a road favorite here. The Jaguars average more points per game (23.8 to 23.0) and allow fewer points per game (20.6 to 22.6), so I’m really tempted to say the wrong team is favored here. However, we think the better way to play this is to tease Jacksonville through the key numbers of 3 and 7 in 2-team, 6-point teasers. This is a good time to list the other advantage teasers (aka “Wong teasers” for old-timers) as we’ll use Jaguars +8 with the Giants up to +8.5 or +9 at the Vikings, Bengals down from -7 to -1 vs. the Ravens and Buccaneers from +2.5 up to +8.5 vs. the Cowboys.

Best Bet: Jaguars in teasers (pool play: Jaguars 60/40 in ATS contests and 55/45 in SU pools).
Thursday update: line has been bet up to Chargers -2.5, so the teaser on the Jaguars up to +8.5 is even stronger.

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-9)

As mentioned in the intro, we grabbed the Dolphins +11 on Sunday night even though we weren’t sure who would be the QB for Miami. We’re certainly hopeful that it’ll be Tua Tagovailoa or at least Teddy Bridgewater and maybe the line move is indicative of “someone knows something.” Regardless, this is actually more of a play against the Bills, who we’ve had a lot of success against this season as they somehow always seem to let teams stick around as they’re 13-3 SU but only 8-7-1 ATS, including losing outright to these Dolphins in Week 3 and then only beating them 31-29 just three weeks ago and failing to cover as 7-point home favorites. Again, we’ll feel better about the Dolphins’ chances with Tagovailoa, but even though they didn’t score a TD in the 11-6 win vs. the Jets, Thompson did play turnover-free football and led the game-winning FG drive. And even though Tua played in the Week 16 game, don’t forget that Raheem Mostert rushed for 136 yards. Buffalo apologists will point out that Mostert is doubtful with a broken thumb, but Jeff Wilson Jr. ran for 143 vs. the Jets on Sunday. I know I’m in the minority (and I love being contrarian), but I still see the Dolphins as a live underdog.

Best Bet: Dolphins +9 or better (pool play: Dolphins 67/33 in ATS contests though Bills still 75/25 in SU pools).
Thursday update: it was finally officially announced that Tagovailoa is OUT and this ballooned up to 13, which we like even more.
Friday update: line continued to climb to +13.5 at DraftKings and majority of Vegas books, so we continue to be in the minority (which is fine with us).
Saturday update: line is now up to +14!

New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings (-3)

The Sunday afternoon NFC wild-card game is between two teams that have “done it with mirrors” all season as their records (Vikings 13-4 and winners of the NFC North; Giants 9-7-1) far exceed their statistics as they both had a knack to win close games. These two teams met just three weeks ago in Week 16 when the Vikings beat the Giants 27-24 but failed to cover as 4.5-point home favorites in a back-and-forth game that the Giants outyarded the Vikings 445-353 but needed a TD and 2-point conversion to tie the game with 2:01 left before Greg Joseph kicked a Minnesota record 61-yard, game-winning field goal as time expired. The line for Sunday’s rematch is the Vikings -3. Some books opened -2.5 but those were bet quickly to -3, which was the margin of victory in that first meeting. The line is too short for us to bet the Giants straight, but we still see this as a one-score game and will tease them up over a touchdown.

Best Bet: Giants in teasers (pool play: Giants 55/45 in ATS contests but Vikings 67/33 in SU pools).

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-7)

With the possible exception of the 49ers, the Bengals are the hottest team heading into the playoffs. They overcame the “Super Bowl loser hangover” and are 12-2 SU and 11-1-1 ATS since their 0-2 start with the push being on Sunday in their 27-16 over these same Ravens with an overly inflated closing line of -11. The line is back down to 7 even though it’s uncertain whether Lamar Jackson will be able to return for the Ravens. We have to think he will return even if he’s less than 100%, though it’s tough to back the Ravens in that case. Instead, we think the right play is to tease the Bengals under a field goal and just count on to advance with the win.

Best Bet: Bengals in teasers (pool play: Bengals 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 85/15 in SU pools).
Thursday update: it’s looking more and more like Jackson might not be able to start, so the line steamed to Bengals -8.5. I’d advise that anyone with me wanting to use the Bengals in teasers do it ASAP as I could see books moving to -9 to deter 6-point teasers.
Friday update: as predicted, this line continued to rise Friday and it now up to -9.5.
Saturday update: to my surprise, most books have dropped back to Bengals -8.5, so that puts them back into teaser territory.

Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Again, we grabbed the Buccaneers +3 on Sunday night as Tom Brady is still Tom Brady and we can’t resist taking him as a home underdog, especially against a Dallas team that we don’t trust. The Buccaneers’ defense is No. 9 in yards allowed per game – and we keep thinking back to the way it dominated in the 19-3 season-opening road win over the Cowboys – and has continually kept them in games to give Brady a chance at late-game heroics. Besides, the Brady-to-Mike Evans combo came through with 3 TD passes in the Week 17 division-clinching win vs. the Panthers, so hopefully that’s a good sign that a late rally won’t be needed. Marc Lawrence of playbook.com and Matt Youmans’ “Circa Friday Night Invitational” also adds that playing against any away team in the wild-card round that is coming off a loss of 14 or more points is 14-1 ATS (93%) since 1980. We fully expect the Bucs to pull the minor upset, though we wouldn’t blame those that missed the +3 to just decide to tease them up through the key numbers of 3 and 7 to +8.5.

Best Bet: Buccaneers +2.5 or better, plus teasers (pool play: Buccaneers 67/33 in ATS contests and at least 60/40 in SU pools).