Tuley: Saturday Best Bets, updated ‘takes’ on NFL Divisional Playoffs


Saturday Best Bets, Friday recaps

Friday was far from ordinary for yours truly. Oh, it included the usual writing, editing and handicapping duties in the Tuley’s Takes home office, but also took a walk on the wild side as I took my wife and theater-major daughter Peyton to the gender-bending “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” musical at the Majestic Repertory Theatre in the Las Vegas arts district.
After I raised my hands and cheered when Hedwig asked “Are there any sugar daddies in the house?,” She pointed at me and shouted: “No, you’re not. You’re in the cheap seats!” Ouch! Talk about emasculating!
But – and sports bettors will understand this – it still wasn’t as painful as losing my Best Bet of the night on Senators-Penguins 1P Over 1.5 -155/Avalanche-Canucks 1P Over 1.5 -180. In an early game, the Penguins came through by winning their first period 2-0 vs. the Senators, but then the Avalanche only led the Canucks 1-0 after 20 minutes to lose my wager as I was checking the scores during the pre-show.
Regardless, we’re still a very respectable 4-3 with these plays (especially since they’re plus-money dogs with the way we play them in parlays) for a net profit of 3.94 units. Note: the individual plays are 11-3 picks for those willing to lay around an average of -160, so you’d be up more than 6 units if playing them, ahem, straight.


Top NFL Resources:

Let’s recap the rest of Friday’s (full-game) action and then give our Saturday Best Bet in the NFL Divisional Playoffs, plus another NHL First-Period Over play. And then, as has become our custom here, we’ll rerun our Wednesday column in which we give our “takes” on the weekend’s NFL playoff schedule with updates based on the current lines.

Friday Recaps

NBA: Faves went 4-4 SU with Pelicans-Magic closing pick-’em, but dogs led 5-2-1 ATS with push in Kings (-5) 118-113 win vs. Thunder. The upsets were by the Lakers (+6.5 in 122-121 win vs. Grizzlies, who had 11-game win streak snapped), Warriors (+10.5 at Cavaliers), Mavericks (+2 vs. Heat) and Nets (+4.5 at Jazz). Spurs (+7.5) covered in 131-126 loss vs. Clippers. Home teams 6-3 SU and 7-1-1 ATS. Overs led 5-4.

More NBA: On the season, favorites lead 438-243 SU with 10 games closing pick-’em while underdogs still lead & improved to 344-318-19 ATS (52%); home teams lead 415-276 SU and 356-318-18 ATS (52.8%); in totals wagering, Overs lead 359-322-10 (52.7%).

NHL: Faves went 2-0 Friday with the Penguins (-161 in 4-1 win vs. Senators) and Avalanche (-145 in 4-1 win at Canucks) both winning as chalk and both also covered the -1.5 puck line. Home/road teams split 1-1. Unders swept 2-0. On the season, faves lead 416-269 with 20 PKs. Home teams lead 360-334 with 4 neutral-site games. Overs’ slim lead dipped to 335-334-29.

Saturday NFL Best Bet

Jaguars-Chiefs Under 53: More on this below. I also bet the very popular Saturday teaser with the Chiefs -2.5/Eagles -1.5, though the Chiefs’ line is up to -9.5 at a low of books and out of the “teaser zone.” As you’ll also see below, we’re on the Giants +7.5 (some books up to +8), but still feel the Jaguars-Chiefs Under is the slightly stronger play.

Saturday NHL Best Bet

Ducks-Sabres 1P Over 1.5 -160/Lightning-Flames 1P Over 1.5 -140 (parlay payoff of +179): There’s actually a potential third NHL 1P Over play on Saturday with Oilers-Canucks, so I’ll probably do a round-robin of 2’s and 3’s. But that game is looking like more books are going with Over 2 goals, so I’ll call the listed parlay my play of the day for our grading purposes. The Ducks have been very good to us as they’re 14-4 with 1P Overs in their last 18 games and 33-12 overall while the Sabres are 27-17 for a combined 60-29 (67.4%). The Lightning and Flames (on a 13-4 run) are a combined 58-30 (65.9%).

Here’s the rerun of our Wednesday column with updates in italics:

Welcome to our weekly Wednesday column (the one that used to appear in “Point Spread Weekly”) where we give our “takes” on every game on the NFL schedule, this weekend with the divisional playoff round.
We give our Best Bet, or how we recommend to bet, on each game. Just like the regular season, even if we can’t come up with a specific play for a game, we’ll include our “pool play” strategy to give a gauge for those who play in pools where you have to make a pick on every game.
Again, as also did during the regular season, we’ll then update our posts in our daily columns the rest of the week and through the weekend.
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.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5, 53)

After being the AFC No. 1 seed and enjoying their first-round bye, the Chiefs come into Saturday’s divisional playoff round as 8.5-point favorites vs. the Jaguars and as the 3-1 Super Bowl favorites at DraftKings. Patrick Mahomes, the +350 MVP fave, of course leads the NFL’s No. 1 offense at 413.6 yards per game and 29.2 points per game.
These teams met in Week 10 with the Chiefs jumping out to a 20-0 lead before the Jaguars finally got on the scoreboard just before halftime. However, the Chiefs’ advantage never fell below 10 points as they won 27-17 and covered as 9.5-point home favorites. That dropped the Jaguars to 3-7, but after regrouping with their bye week, they went 6-1 (and 5-2 against the spread) the rest of the regular season to win the AFC South.
Then, in one of the worst playoff debuts you’ll see from a starting QB, Trevor Lawrence three 3 INTs in the first quarter as they fell behind 27-0 to the Chargers but somehow rallied to win 31-30 on a field goal as time expired.
Some books opened this line closer to the spread in the earlier meeting, but it looks like it has settled in at 8.5 as of Tuesday afternoon. With the way Andy Reid usually wins off a bye with extra time to prepare, we can’t quite pull the trigger on the dog. Based on that prior game and the Jaguars falling behind again on the national stage against the Chargers, the First-Half bet on the Chiefs -5 will be popular as well as teasers taking the Chiefs below a field goal.
But we’ve talked ourselves into the Under 53 being the Best Best of the game. Even though only 44 points were scored in the first meeting (and the teams’ combined averages on the season come to around 47.5), this is the highest total of the weekend at 53 points, so the value is on the Under if you believe the defenses (Jacksonville allowed 20.6 points per game in the regular season with the Chiefs allowing 21.7) can get the occasional stop. With Overs going 5-1 on Super Wild Card Weekend, all of the totals appear to be a little over-inflated.

Best Bet: Under 53, plus Chiefs in teasers (Jaguars 55/45 in ATS contests, but Chiefs at least 80/20 in SU pools).
Friday update: William Hill books in Nevada and elsewhere have gone to 52.5, so we advise those with us to grab Under 53 ASAP.
Saturday update: Under 53s still available, but Chiefs up to -9 and even -9.5 at some books, so no longer in “teaser zone.”

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-7.5, 48)

On Sunday night’s “The Greg Peterson Show” on VSiN, I almost gave Chiefs -2.5/Eagles-1.5 as a 2-team, 6 point teaser, though there were some books that were deterring teasers on the Chiefs by going to -9 and even -9.5. That line has apparently settled at Chiefs -8.5, so I fully recommend teasing the two No. 1 seeds to take care of business and at least win straight-up.
However, I’m also taking the underdog Giants plus the points. This is as much of a play against the Eagles, who were 8-9 ATS in the regular season despite their lofty 13-4 SU record as they often let teams stick around. There was a stretch of the season when fading them wasn’t as successful  (Week 12 and 13 in routs of the Packers and Titans before blowing out this Giants team 48-22), but then finished the season 0-4 ATS down the stretch including an ATS loss in their 26-22 win vs. these same Giants, though that was with Gardner Minshew replacing Jalen Hurts.
Regardless, this Giants teams has kept themselves in games all season long and are 14-4 ATS, including a perfect 3-0 ATS when getting more than 7 points (27-22 upset of the Packers in Week 5 as 9-point road dogs, 28-20 upset of the Cowboys in Week 12 as 10-point road dogs and the aforementioned 26-22 cover in the Week 18 loss to the Eagles as 16.5-point dogs).
Saquon Barkley mostly carries the load for the Giants, but QB Daniel Jones has been coming through a lot more lately to shed the label of “game-manager.” The Giants also have the familiarity angle that we saw with the Dolphins and Ravens covering in losses to division rivals in the wild-card round.

Best Bet: Giants +7.5, though also Eagles in teasers to hopefully hit a middle on -1.5 and +7.5 (pool play: Giants 67/33 in ATS contests but Eagles 70/30 in SU pools).
Saturday update: Some books have moved to Eagles -8, so I like Giants play even more now at bigger number, plus we always prefer being contrarian.

Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills (-5, 48)

We gave this out on Sunday night after missing the +5 opener at some books, but it’s now back to 5 at the majority of books and +5.5 at South Point here in Las Vegas as of early Wednesday mornings. Bengals are live dogs in this game that should be closer to pick-’em. Besides, this is just as much of a bet against the Bills, who we faded successfully again with the Dolphins (+14 in their 34-31 loss) as they continually let teams stick around.
Of course, this is the rematch of the Week 17 Monday night game that was suspended after Buffalo’s Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field, and then canceled. A lot of people are saying that the Bills have the motivational edge, but it was actually the Bengals who were deprived of a chance to pull the upset that night and feel they should be hosting this game or at least have it on a neutral field.
Regardless, it’s what Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ offense does on the field that has me on them as they were moving the ball at will in that earlier meeting. A lot of people are making a big deal about the Bengals’ injuries on the offensive line, but it’s not like they’re going to be playing with only two offensive linemen and they’ve worked around this problem before.
This should come down to a field goal one way or the other. In fact, I’d say it’s just as likely that the Bengals win by a touchdown or more.

Best Bet: Bengals +5 (pool play: Bengals 67/33 in ATS contests and let’s call for the outright upset at 55/45 in SU pools).
Thursday update: the line continued to climb as it’s up to Bill -5.5 at most books even though the majority of bets have come in on the Bengals. Let’s see if it gets to +6.
Friday update: line is up to 6 at the South Point and Wynn in Las Vegas, so as always be sure to shop for the best number you can get between now and game time.
Saturday update: South Point back down to 5.5, but Circa up to 6 as of early Saturday morning.

Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers (-3.5, 46.5)

This line is too short for me to take the Cowboys against a 49ers team that has won 11 straight games (and 9-2 ATS) even after having to go with third-string QB Brock Purdy. The 49ers just have too many weapons with Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, etc. I also don’t trust that the Cowboys’ defense is back to mid-season form after shutting down the Buccaneers. Before that, the Dallas D had allowed 113 points in the four prior games (28.3 points per game).
On the other side of the ball, the 49ers have the No. 1 defense in the league and allow just 16.3 points per game. I don’t see Dak Prescott able to match the 49ers score for score.

Best Best: Pass (pool play: 49ers 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).