Tuley’s Takes: NFL Week 8

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Week 8 picks from a "dog or pass" point of view"

Last Sunday was another rough day – the second in as many weeks – in the Tuley’s Take home office as we went 2-3 ATS with our Best Bets here and in our Circa and Westgate contest entries under the @ViewFromVegas umbrella.

But we weren’t alone. The Top 5 most-selected teams went 1-4 ATS in both the Circa Sports Million and Westgate SuperContest, so it could have been worse as we actually outperformed the field (one of the bottom-line principles of the “dog-or-pass” approach is to weed out the weaker plays, minimizing losses on a bad day/weekend). In addition, the eight most-bet sides at DraftKings (all with more than 70% of the bets) went 0-8 ATS, with the Bills, Raiders, Buccaneers, 49ers, Browns, Lions, Packers and Rams all going down in flames.

Our 2-team, 6-point teaser portfolio didn’t bail us out like it sometimes does as we hit with Falcons +8.5/Colts +8.5, but all other combos using the Lions, Dolphins and 49ers came up short despite the bonus points.

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 give my recommended “pool play strategy” for those in contests where you have to pick every game.

We have a full 16-game card this weekend (no byes), so let’s get right to it.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Buffalo Bills (-8.5)

The Buccaneers are 3-3 but have exceeded our expectations this season, as they’ve been competitive in most games. But this is more of a fade of the Bills (underperforming at 4-3), who we successfully beat on Sunday with the Patriots +8.5 in the 29-25 upset. I hate repeating myself – oh, who am I kidding? I love repeating myself with old stories that I tell my wife and soulmate over and over again, so why not here? I’ll just print what I wrote in this column last week: “Besides, as we’ve written several times, the Bills (despite three blowout wins earlier this season) tend to let teams stick around.”

Best Bet: Buccaneers +8.5 (pool play: Buccaneers 67/33 in my rare ATS contests that use the Thursday night game, but Bills in all SU pools).

New Orleans Saints at Indianapolis Colts (-1)

These two teams have me perplexed. The Saints routed the Patriots 34-0 and then lost 20-13 at the Texans; the Colts got routed 37-20 by the Jaguars, then covered in a hard-fought 39-38 loss vs. the Browns. I don’t know which of these teams are going to show up. Hard pass (not even on teasers).

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Colts lukewarm 55/45 in all SU and ATS contests).

Jacksonville Jaguars (-2.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers

Once again, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin has the Steelers (4-2) playing better than expected. They upset the Ravens 17-10 before their bye and then took care of business in a 24-17 win at the Rams after the bye. They now face the AFC South-leading Jaguars (5-2). When the schedule came out on May 11, the Steelers opened at 1-point home favorites, but now they’re short home underdogs. I don’t necessarily agree with the adjustment, but the number is still too short for me to take Pittsburgh plus the points. Instead, let’s make it our top teaser recommendation of the week. There aren’t a ton of games in the “teaser zone” where you can capture the key numbers of both 3 and 7, so my top combo is Steelers +8.5/Browns +9.5. I’m also considering favorites Chiefs -2.5, Ravens -2.5 and Lions -2.5.  

Best Bet: 2-team, 6-point teaser with Steelers +8.5/Browns +9.5 (pool play: Steelers 55/45 in ATS contests but Jaguars 60/40 in SU pools).

Houston Texans (-3) at Carolina Panthers

The Texans have already been very good to us this year, but regular readers already know what I will say: Beware laying points with a team that is used to being an underdog and then thrust into the favorite role. Everyone also knows I’m as allergic to chalk as I am to vegetables, so I wouldn’t be betting them anyway, despite how well they’ve treated us. As for the Panthers, I’m not even tempted to include them in my teaser portfolio as they’ve lost three of their last four games by 10 or more points and can’t be trusted to get in a one-score game that you need to cover a teaser. 

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Texans 55/45 in ATS contests and at least 80/20 in SU pools).

Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) at Washington Commanders

What’s with these divisional rematches before we’re even to the mid-point of the season? Anyway, my first thought is to take the Commanders plus the points as we cashed with them +9 in Week 4 as they took the Eagles to overtime before losing but covering 34-31, especially since they now get them at home. However, the Commanders have regressed since then with the embarrassing 40-20 home loss vs. the Bears in Week 5 and equally embarrassing 14-7 road loss at the Giants this past Sunday (granted, they did beat the Falcons 24-16 in-between, so scuffling nonetheless). I can’t take them at less than a full touchdown.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Eagles 55/45 in ATS contest and at least 80/20 in SU pools).

Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys (-6.5)

This is another game where I have to pass as I feel we’re getting shorted on the dog. Granted, the Rams have been competitive this season, and their offense (No. 6 at 365.1 yards per game) is enough to consider them live dogs here – and that’s why this line is under a full touchdown – but assuming the Cowboys come out firing fresh off their bye week, this isn’t the time to fade them getting less than 7 points.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Cowboys 55/45 in ATS contests and around 75/25 in SU pools).

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (-9.5)

The Patriots saved my butt in the early games last Sunday with their 29-25 upset vs. the Bills as 8.5-point home dogs, and I’m emboldened to jump right back on them against another divisional foe with which they’re very familiar. This line opened only Dolphins -4 when the schedule was released in May, and with their high-flying start, it was as high as -12.5 on last week’s advance line at Westgate. After the Pats’ upset and the Dolphins’ 31-17 loss at the Eagles, it’s back to single digits, but still enough points for me, especially since I expect Bill Belichick will go to school on how the Eagles’ D contained the Miami O.

Best Bet: Patriots +9.5 (pool play: Patriots 65/35 in ATS contests, though Dolphins still 67/33 in SU pools).

New York Jets (-3) at New York Giants

I know this game will be big in New York (hello to all my former readers in the New York Post when VSiN had a cooperation agreement), but I have no interest in either side. My lean would be to the Giants plus the points with Tyrod Taylor, but I wasn’t too impressed with their 14-7 win vs. the Commanders. Besides, the Jets have much more upside, as was seen in their 20-14 upset of the Eagles before their bye week. So, no thanks on teasing the Giants either.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Jets 55/45 in ATS contests and 67/33 in SU pools).

Atlanta Falcons (-2.5/-3) at Tennessee Titans

The Titans would normally be in a prime teaser spot against; however, as of press time, it looked like Tennessee QB Ryan Tannehill wouldn’t be ready to return to the starting lineup from his ankle injury despite having a bye week to recover. Instead, rookie Will Levis is expected to start instead of Malik Willis. Of course, if Tannehill were able to go, this line would move out of the teaser zone anyway.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Titans 55/45 in ATS contests but Falcons 55/45 in SU pools).

Minnesota Vikings (-1) at Green Bay Packers

This is another game under a field goal (and technically out of the teaser zone as +1 teased up to +7 is nowhere near as desirable at +1.5 to +7.5) that I have no interest in betting. It’s basically a coin-flip in my book, and with the lack of incentive to tease it (we would change our mind if either side gets to +1.5 over the weekend), we’ll just stay away.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Packers 55/45 in all SU and ATS contests).

Cleveland Browns at Seattle Seahawks (-3.5)

The big news regarding this game is that Deshaun Watson’s rotator cuff injury (probably asking for more massages) will keep him out of the lineup again, and PJ Walker will get another start for Cleveland. I know my friend Dave Cocoran (and partner in one of my Circa Sports Million entries) is going to say Walker is 4-0 as a starter at home but 0-3 on the road, but I’m going to count on him to carry the momentum from last Sunday’s 39-38 win at the Colts into this Sunday. Besides, it’s not like the Seahawks were dominant in their 20-10 win over the Cardinals, so this is a case where I’m not sure the right team is favored.

Best Bet: Browns +3.5 (pool play: Browns 67/33 in ATS contest and 55/45 in SU pools as we call for an outright upset on a slight majority of entries).

Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5) at Denver Broncos

We got burned last week with the Chargers +5.5 as the Chiefs did enough to win and cover in their 31-17 victory. However, it still doesn’t change the fact they usually let lesser teams stick around. When most people think of this year’s Denver team, they think of the 70-spot the Dolphins put on them in Week 3. However, while the Broncos are still dead-last in total defense at 424.7 yards per game, they only allowed 331 yards in their 19-17 win vs. the Packers on Sunday and average giving up just 375.7 yards (middle-of-the-league number) the past three games, which includes the 19-8 loss in the Week 6 Thursday nighter – this game is just 17 days after that first meeting. The Broncos also get this rematch at home, so I’ll take the divisional home dog,

Best Bet: Broncos +8.5 (pool play: Broncos 65/35 in ATS contests, but Chiefs still 70/30 in SU pools).

Cincinnati Bengals at San Francisco 49ers (-3.5)

When I do these “Tuley’s Takes” columns on Wednesday each week, I’m usually pretty set on which five or so plays I really like (and am going to use in the Circa Sports Million and Westgate SuperContest). When I’m straddling the fence, I usually like to mention it either as a potential Best Bet (possibly replacing one of my original selections) or as a lean. This is one such case here as the Bengals are getting more than a field goal (it was +5.5 earlier). Cincy certainly started the season slow but could be turning the corner like they’ve done in recent seasons if they can carry their momentum out of their bye week. Meanwhile, the 49ers were regarded as the best team in the league by a lot of observers, but a 19-17 loss at the Browns and a 22-17 loss at the Vikings made them look vulnerable. I’m guessing most bettors will lay the depressed number on the 49ers at home, but I think that’s a risky bet (though definitely pass on Bengals at +3).

Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Bengals 55/45 in ATS contests but 49ers 65/35 in SU pools).

Baltimore Ravens (-8.5) at Arizona Cardinals

We just took the Broncos as +8.5 home underdogs, and regular readers know we rarely resist home dogs of more than a TD, but we do feel we have to invoke the “pass” part of “dog-or-pass” here. The Cardinals were more competitive earlier this year, and if they were playing that well now, we would probably be all over this; however, since their shocking upset of the Cowboys in Week 3 as 11.5-point home dogs, they’ve lost their last four games by 19, 14, 17 and 10 points, so we’re not confident they can get stay within one score here against a Ravens team that just rolled the Lions 38-6.

Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Ravens 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).

Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Chargers (-8.5)

Repeating ourselves from last week’s column (and many columns in recent years), the Chargers can’t be trusted as favorites … certainly not laying more than a touchdown. Besides, Chicago backup QB Tyson Bagent looked comfortable in leading the Bears to a 30-12 upset over the Raiders as 3-point home underdogs. That’s one dog I wish I had made a case for last week (especially fading a mediocre Raiders team), so I’m not making the same mistake here.

Best Bet: Bears +8.5 (pool play: Bears 65/35 in ATS contests, but Chargers still 67/33 in SU pools).

Las Vegas Raiders at Detroit Lions (-8.5)

Speaking of the stumbling Raiders, how does Josh McDaniels still have a job? My theory is that owner Mark Davis has been too distracted with his Las Vegas Aces winning a second straight WNBA title to make a move. Anyway, I’m not interested in playing them hear as the Lions as coming off that 38-6 loss at the Ravens and should bounce back. As mentioned above, the Lions are a prime 2-team, 6-point teaser play, and I’ll hopefully have a couple of live tickets to them from Sunday’s action.

Best Bet: Pass, except for using Lions -2.5 in teasers (pool play: Lions 55/45 in ATS contests and at least 80/20 in SU pools).