Week 13 picks from a "dog or pass" point of view"
We’ve been talking about the “roller coaster” of football betting the last couple of weeks in the Tuley’s Takes home office.
Not to mix metaphors, but we also often write about the ebb and flow of the football season (or any sports season for that matter) and catching a wave. Hopefully, Week 12 of the NFL season was the low point as favorites dominated 12-4 straight-up and against-the-spread – and it was even worse on Sunday as chalk went 9-2 SU and ATS, so you know it was a “wipe out” for underdog bettors like yours truly.
Drawing from that stacked deck, I went 2-4 ATS with my Best Bets as I lost with the Commanders +11 in a 45-10 loss at the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and also lost with the Jets +10 in another rout, 34-13, at the Dolphins on Black Friday. Moving to Sunday, I lucked out as I had the Bills +3.5 in this column last Wednesday and bet it early to cash in their 34-31 OT loss at Eagles even though they didn’t cover vs. the closing number of +2.5. I also lost on the Raiders +9 in a 31-17 loss vs. the Chiefs and the Chargers +3.5 in a 20-10 loss vs. the Ravens on Sunday Night Football (that was a bit of a bad beat, we move on), but cut my losses when the Bears +3.5 pulled off a 12-10 minor upset at the Vikings on Monday Night Football.
The other thing that helped me cut my losses was hitting my top 2-team, 6-point teaser on Texans +7.5/Buccaneers +8.5 as they both cashed those numbers in respective 24-21 loss vs. the Jaguars and 27-20 loss at the Colts.
So, it could have been worse. Please indulge me as I get a little philosophical with a few more thoughts while wrapping up the weekend and before moving on to Week 13:
A) God sometimes gives us mysteries to figure out; where would be the joy of winning if it weren’t a challenge?
B) Sometimes chalk bettors need to have a weekend like this to reinforce their belief that they’re betting the right way; it’s kind of the cost of doing business to ensure we continue to get fair lines to bet into as “dog-or-pass” bettors.
On a side note: we’re excited about Bookie, the new HBO MAX comedy from Nick Bakay and Chuck Lorre, so check out the first two fictional episodes this weekend while sweating out your non-fiction bets! You can also check out my VSiN colleague Gill Alexander’s interview of Bakay (the voice of Salem Saberhagen aka Salem the Cat on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, one of Elaine’s boyfriends on Seinfeld, a pioneer of Bad Beats on ESPN before being canceled by the NFL as it was before its time, plus a writer on more hit TV shows than I can list here) on Wednesday morning’s A Numbers Game. I’m cheering for Bookie to be a hit, though I might be biased as Bakay is a former SuperContest proxy client of mine.
So, let’s get to the Week 13 card with just 13 games as six teams (Bills, Bears, Giants, Ravens, Raiders and Vikings) are having their long-awaited bye week.
For newcomers to this column, I’m a “dog-or-pass bettor,” and my breakdown of each game will usually be from that point of view as we try to determine if the dog is getting enough points to make them a play – or if I recommend passing on the game, which is a very valid and valuable betting decision when trying to come out ahead against the books! Even if I don’t have an official Best Bet, I’ll still at least give my recommended “pool play strategy” for those who are in contests where you have to pick every game.
The Seahawks are a little tempting, getting more than a touchdown in this week’s Thursday nighter. I would usually jump on that horse, but the Cowboys have been on a roll since their Week 9 loss at the Eagles as they’ve routed the Giants 49-17, the Panthers 33-10 and Commanders 45-10 in succession, winning by an average of 42.3-12-3 (30 points per game!) and easily covering as double-digit favorites each time. I went through a country music phase during my single days in the wild, wild west of Phoenix in the mid-1990s if you know what I mean (and I’m sure you do!). It wasn’t until 2004 that Big & Rich had a hit with “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” but even though my official “dog-or-pass” recommendation is to pass, I wouldn’t fault anyone for wanting to ride these Cowboys, or teasing under a field goal if possible.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Cowboys 55/45 in rare ATS contests that used the Thursday night game, plus in all my SU pools).
Here we get a tempting home underdog, especially as I’ve written many times how Matt Youmans and I often fade the Chargers when favored (as much as we share our love of the McRib at McDonald’s), but I’m passing on this one as well. We don’t recall ever seeing a worse Bill Belichick team as the Pats are 2-9 and rank No. 25 in yards per game. The New England defense is ranked No. 8, but that doesn’t even get me to pull the trigger if I can’t count on the offense to keep up with Justin Herbert and Co.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Patriots 55/45 on principle in ATS contests, but Chargers at least 80/20 in SU pools).
As great as the Lions (8-3) have been this year, they were upset 29-22 by the Packers on Thanksgiving as 7.5-point home faves, failed to cover as 8-point home chalk in their 31-26 win vs. the Bears a week ago Sunday and haven’t had a comfortable win since the night before Halloween when they beat the Raiders 26-14. The Saints (5-6 but still in the playoff hunt in a tie for NFC South with the Falcons) can turn this into a game that comes down to a field goal. They’re only 2-2 at home this year (and regular readers know we don’t put as much stock in home-field advantage like we used to), but their last game in the Superdome was a 24-17 win vs. the Bears in Week 9, so the Nawlins home cookin’ should serve them well.
Best Bet: Saints +4 (pool play: Saints 60/40 in ATS contests – higher at +4.5 – but Lions still 65/35 in SU pools).
The Falcons (5-6) are coming off their 24-15 win vs. the Saints that moved them into that first-place tie in the NFC South, so we see why they’re favored on the road this week vs. the grounded Jets. The number is too short to take the dog plus the points, but we are willing to tease them up over a touchdown to +8.5, especially since the Falcons play a lot of games that come down to one score (or even a field goal). The only other NFL Week 13 dog that is fully in the “teaser zone” (which means you get the full benefit of teasing through both the key numbers of 3 and 7) is the Eagles teased from +2.5 to +8.5 at home vs. the 49ers in another marquee matchup that should also be a one-score game either way.
Best Bet: 2-team, 6-point teaser on Jets +8.5/Eagles +8.5 (pool play: Jets 55/45 in ATS contests, but Falcons 55/45 in SU pools).
Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin has the Steelers (7-4) heading toward another winning season, and they also have the inside track on an AFC wild-card spot if they can’t catch the Ravens. They’re 3-1 SU and ATS in their last four games and 5-2 SU and ATS in their last seven. I would actually consider fading them as they’re getting a little overvalued; however, the Cardinals (2-10) got a boost three weeks ago when Kyler Murray returned and beat the Falcons 25-23, but that momentum didn’t carry over into 21-16 and 37-14 losses to the Texans and Rams, not so respectively.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Steelers 55/45 in ATS contests and at least 75/25 in SU pools).
The Panthers fired coach Frank Reich earlier this week. Regular readers will remember how I wrote about “teams usually getting an immediate spark as players try to prove themselves for a new coach” after the Raiders fired Josh McDaniels and replaced him with interim coach Antonio Pierce (in case you didn’t notice, the Raiders rattled off three straight wins). So, the Panthers are tempting here, and I don’t blame anyone for thinking they’re a live dog, but I’m going to pass. It looks like a sharp side (pros vs. Joes) as of Wednesday’s deadline, but it has the feel of a public dog as more people hear about the “fired coach” trend.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Panthers 55/45 in ATS contests, but Buccaneers 67/33 in SU pools).
The Colts (6-5) are sticking around in the AFC wild-card hunt, while the Titans (4-7) not so much. This is pretty much a coin-flip game as the spread indicates and should be a one-score game; however, I’m not able to pull the trigger on the Titans in a 6-point teaser because they’re not in the “teaser zone” as we would only get +7 and don’t get the full benefit of picking up the hook at +7.5 (yes, you could to a 6.5-point teaser but I’m not willing to lay the extra juice).
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Colts 55/45 in all SU & ATS contests).
The Dolphins are obviously flying high with the No. 1 offense in the league (430.5 yards per game, averaging 25 yards per game more than the Lions). As such, they’re going to continue to be a very public team and, as of early Wednesday night, 79% of the bets and 80% of the money at DraftKings was on Miami. The advance line last week was Dolphins -6.5 on this game. Obviously, the Commanders were blown out 45-10 by the Cowboys and the Dolphins routed the Jets 34-13, but this is still an overadjustment, so we’ll take the bonus points with the Commanders as a home underdog of more than a TD.
Best Bet: Commanders +9.5 (pool play: Commanders 67/33 in ATS contests, but Dolphins 70/30 in SU pools).
The Broncos (6-5) have turned around a disastrous 0-3 start, including the embarrassing 70-20 loss to the Dolphins in Week 3, as they’re 6-2 since with a current five-game winning streak. I was on the Texans earlier than most and they’ve been very, very good to me this season (including CJ Stroud on one of my fantasy teams, at a cheap salary in a keeper league no less), but now they’re laying more than a field goal against a hot team? I have to fade them here and take the Broncos not only to cover but to pull the minor upset.
Best Bet: Broncos +3.5 (pool play: Broncos in all my SU & ATS contests despite being underdogs).
We mentioned this game above with the Eagles anchoring our top teaser play. This should be a knock-down, drag-out battle between the two best teams in the NFC (apologies to the Cowboys and Lions, but I don’t think I’m out of line saying they’re still a cut below the 49ers and Eagles). I would consider the Eagles at +3 – and we’re seeing a couple of books go there Wednesday afternoon, though with added juice – but the teaser is the safer play.
Best Bet: 2-team, 6-point teaser with Eagles +8.5 to Jets +8.5 earlier (pool play: Eagles 55/45 in ATS contests but 49ers 55/45 in SU pools).
We’ve seen a flip in this line as it was Browns -1 back when Deshaun Watson was healthy. While the Rams ran over the Cardinals 37-14 on Sunday, the Browns lost 29-12 at the Broncos but remain in the AFC wild-card chase at 7-4. It looks like QB Joe Flacco might start for Cleveland after Dorian Thompson-Robinson was knocked out of Sunday’s game and missed practice Wednesday in the concussion protocol, and I’m fine with that as the Browns still have the better team and we get more than a FG.
Best Bet: Browns +3.5 (pool play: Browns 65/35 in ATS contests, though Rams still 55/45 in SU pools).
Despite losing with the Raiders +9 on Sunday, we’ve had quite a bit of success fading the Chiefs in recent years since they’re often laying too many points and tend to let lesser teams stick around. However, even though the Packers certainly looked better in their 29-22 Thanksgiving win at the Lions (who beat these Chiefs back in Week 1, so common-opponent results like that often trigger an underdog play for me), I still feel this number is too short to take the Packers here.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Chiefs 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 85/15 in SU pools)).
This was certainly a more marquee matchup before Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow had his season abruptly ended. Over the summer, this advance line was Bengals -1 but has moved more than a touchdown (obviously also adjusted by these two teams’ overall results). But as much as it appears the Bengals’ could go into a tailspin, this line has been adjusted too far, and we have to take them at more than a touchdown as they still have a solid overall roster. In addition, the Jaguars haven’t shown they can consistently win by margin (see the 24-21 win at the Texans on Sunday).
Best Bet: Bengals +8.5 (pool play: Bengals 60/40 in ATS contests, but Jaguars 70/30 in SU pools).