Week 12 picks from a "dog or pass" point of view"
Well, it didn’t take long for us to return to our roller-coaster analogy in the Tuley’s Take home office as that’s exactly what happened last weekend with our NFL bets.
It started with a loss on the Bengals +4 at the Ravens on Thursday Night Football as they lost 34-20 and didn’t cover (Joe Burrow’s injury didn’t help). In early Sunday games, I was at my usual “office” in the Westgate’s International Theater (where Elvis had his record-setting sellout run in the 1970s that was just broken by Barry Manilow) and was joined by my kids’ elementary school gym teacher Robert and his wife Jill as they brought some friends. It started great as I hit my two early plays on the Bears +9 at the Lions and Raiders +13.5 at the Dolphins as they both covered in straight-up losses to put me on a high, but then they left mid-afternoon, and I was down again as the Buccaneers +11.5 at the 49ers and Jets +7 at the Bills were both blown out.
Note: we actually cashed the Buccaneers +13.5 with our personal bet (hopefully our readers have been taught enough here to time their bets and shop around, especially since more often than not you can get our underdogs at more points and better moneyline prices closer to the weekend), but we lost here at +11.5 and in our Circa and Westgate contests.
That made us a disappointing 2-3 ATS with our posted Best Bets here (again, you should always fare better overall with real-life wagers), but at least we were able to still have a winning day overall as we swept our 2-team, 6-point teaser portfolio again. Our first play was on the Jaguars -1/Vikings +8.5 on Sunday night and that cashed. We also own our top Best Bet recommendation of Jaguars -1/Eagles +8.5 on Monday night, as well all other combinations using those as well as Rams +7 if bet before they flipped to being favored.
But let’s move forward as we have a busy, full 16-game NFL schedule starting with the three annual Thanksgiving Day games.
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 Lions host their annual Thanksgiving Day opening game and finally have a good team to showcase. Regular readers know I love to look at the earlier meetings in these NFL divisional matchups – and especially love when a dog wins the first meeting and is getting points again despite showing they can beat their rival – but the Lions romped to a 34-20 win in the Week 4 Thursday nightery, and I didn’t see any sign that this time will be different. In fact, my biggest bet so far for Turkey Day is a 2-team, 6-point teaser, taking the Lions down to -1.5 in this game and tying it with the 49ers -0.5 at the Seahawks in the nightcap. I guess we might as well list Sunday’s “advantage teaser” options (aka “Wong teasers through key numbers of 3 and 7): Texans +7.5 vs. Jaguars, Buccaneers +8.5 at Colts, Bengals +7 vs. Steelers and Browns +8.5 at Broncos.
Best Bet: 2-team, 6-point teaser on Lions -1.5/49er -0,5, among others (pool play: Lions 67/33 in my rare ATS contests that use Thursday games, but in all my SU pools).
This is the first meeting between these NFC East rivals (never understood how Dallas was ever put in the East, but whatever). After making the mistake of fading the Cowboys with the Giants +16.5 two weeks ago in a 49-17 rout, at least we passed with the Panthers +10.5 this past Sunday in a 33-10 rout. But despite the fact the Commodes have crapped the bed twice against the Giants, I can’t resist taking them as double-digit dogs as Sam Howell & Co. have shown enough in their other games – especially the two spread-covering losses to the Eagles – that they can stay with one score.
Best Bet: Commanders +11 (pool play: Commanders 67/33 in ATS contests, though Cowboys still 75/25 in SU pools).
We get a road favorite in the nightcap as the tryptophan starts to kick in. As mentioned above, I’m just using the 49ers in 6-point teasers as we can basically take them down to pick ’em and just need them to hold on to the outright win. I certainly wouldn’t want to take Seattle – even with the 12th-man home-field advantage – at less than a full touchdown.
Best Bet: 2-team, 6-point teasers with 49ers -0.5 (pool play: 49ers 60/40 in ATS contests and at least 85/15 in SU pools).
Sunday’s games mean a return to the teaser parade (as you could see above, there are plenty of prime advantage teasers this week, so we have plenty to pick and choose between). I was thisclose to making Texans +1.5 a Best Bet on its own, especially when you remember they routed these same Jaguars 37-17 in Week 3 as 7.5-point road underdogs. That fits my aforementioned scenario where we’re still getting points (or at least 1.5). However, as good as the Texans have been to us, it’s hard to overlook the Jaguars blowing out the Titans 34-14 this past Sunday in one of their most complete games of the season. So, we feel the stronger (safer?) play is the Texans teased up through the key numbers of 3 and 7 to get the same amount of points they were receiving in the first meeting. My preferred teaser among the early Sunday games is Texans +7.5/Buccaneers +8.5, but we will also be betting other combos.
Best Bet: 2-team, 6-point teaser on Texans +7.5/Buccaneers +8.5, among others (pool play: Jaguars 55/45 in all SU & ATS contests, though might actually play Texans in more of my own pools).
Here we have the first-ever Black Friday NFL game. Of course, it would have been bigger if Aaron Rodgers was still playing for the Jets, who are 4-6 and three full games behind the AFC East-leading Dolphins at 7-3. The Jets let us down badly in their 32-6 loss at the Bills on Sunday, but they have been good to us overall with their cover vs. the Chiefs in Week 4 and upsets of the Broncos and especially the Eagles in Weeks 5 and 6, respectively. The Dolphins are still the No. 1 offense at 434 yards per game, but the Jets are No. 11 in total defense at 316.3 YPG and can keep this closer than expected.
Best Bet: Jets +10 (pool play: Jets 67/33 in ATS contests, though Dolphins still 75/25 in SU pools).
Here’s the second leg of the early Sunday teaser. The Buccaneers have been competitive all season. They’re now 4-6 SU, but they’re 7-3 ATS if grading vs. the closing line (like we always do) after covering +13.5 in their 27-14 loss at the 49ers on Sunday. The line is too short for me to take the +2.5, but we’ll gladly tease up to +8.5. Besides, the last time we saw the Colts before their bye week, they struggled to beat the Patriots 10-6 in Germany.
Best Bet: 2-point, 6-point teaser on Buccaneers +8.5/Texans +7.5, among others (pool play: Colts 55/45 in all SU & ATS contests).
Just like the Colts, the Patriots are coming off their bye week following that 10-6 loss in Germany. Meanwhile, the Giants just upset the Commanders 31-17 as 7.5-point road underdogs. We would normally look to the Giants as live home dogs here, but the problem is the advanced line on this game was Giants +5 before that win, so all the value is gone. Hard pass to concentrate on other early Sunday games (don’t even have a single Patriots or Giants player on any of my fantasy teams).
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Giants 55/45 in ATS contests, but Patriots 60/40 in SU pools).
Every week, it seems like we hear of sharp bettors jumping in on the Panthers, but I’ve mostly resisted, even last week when they closed +11 as home dogs before getting routed 33-10 by the Cowboys. At first glance, this seems like a decent spot with them getting more than a field goal against a Titans team that has lost its last three and averaged scoring only 12 points in that span, but I still can’t pull the trigger.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Panthers 55/45 in ATS contests, but Titans still 67/33 in SU pools).
Unless you have more faith in Jake Browning than me or most people, the Bengals’ season pretty much ended when Joe Burrow left their 34-20 loss at the Ravens last Thursday night. The advanced line for this game last week was Bengals -1, but it’s flipped a full 6 points with the downgrade from Burrow to Browning. Many will say that’s not enough; however, we’ll still have some teasers with the Bengals up to +7 (hopefully higher) as the Steelers aren’t built to blow people out. Don’t believe me? They haven’t beaten a team by more than 7 points so far this season.
Best Bet: Pass, except for Bengals +8 in some teasers (pool play: Steelers 55/45 in all SU and ATS contests).
What’s with all these game lines right around pick ’em or at least under a field goal? I get it that parity is alive and well for the most part (and relatively low-scoring games as Unders continue to dominate), but still surprised by this. As the line suggests, total coin-flip here – your guess is as good as mine, probably better! – and not interested in teasing either team up to only +6, so another hard pass.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: 50/50 in all SU & ATS contests, but proverbial “gun to my head,” Saints 55/45).
Here we go again (to quote one of my all-time favorite rock singers, David Coverdale of “Whitesnake”) with another pick ’em. Now, in this case, the Rams did rout the Cardinals 29-6 as 7-point home favorites in Week 6, so I would lean to them if the proverbial gun was still loaded but staying away from this one for the same reason as Saints-Falcons.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Rams 55/45 in SU and ATS contests).
The Broncos have been a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde team all season, even though they’re certainly better than the team that gave up 70 points to the Dolphins in Week 3. They have only beaten one team by more than a touchdown (the surprising 24-9 home win vs. the Chiefs in Week 8). Otherwise, they play tighter games, and we expect the Browns, who we’ve been saying all season have one of the better overall rosters in the league other than QB, to stay within one score. We were high on Cleveland backup QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson in the preseason, and proud to see him step up this past Sunday to lead the Browns on a late FG drive for a 13-10 home win vs. the Steelers. We might add the Browns as an ATS bet on Sunday (especially if we’re not alive with our earlier teaser legs to the Browns +8.5), but for now, just sticking as the anchor leg of our teasers during the afternoon games
Best Bet: 2-team, 6-point teasers with Browns +8.5, for now (pool play: Browns 55/45 in ATS contests, but Broncos 60/40 in SU pools).
It’s kind of surprising that this isn’t a primetime game this week (Ravens-Chargers on Sunday night isn’t bad, but Bears-Vikings on Monday night? Really?). I’ve been writing all season about how both these teams have a tendency to play closer games than often expected, so I really expect that here and love that we’re getting more than a field goal with the Bills in a game that could very well come down to a field goal. The Eagles are coming off their nice 21-17 victory at the Chiefs on Monday night, but the Bills looked more impressive in their 32-6 rout of the Jets on Sunday night.
Best Bet: Bills +3.5 (pool play: Bills 60/40 in ATS contests, but Eagles still 60/40 in SU pools).
We’re not going to go as far as saying the Raiders are a legitimate playoff contender at 5-6, but they have won three straight games since Josh McDaniels was fired and replaced by interim coach Antonio Pierce. This is another first meeting between divisional rivals, but we’re putting most of our faith in the Chiefs’ continuing trend of letting teams stick around. And, just like Sunday with +13.5 in Miami, we don’t even have to do a teaser with the Raiders getting more than a TD at home.
Best Bet: Raiders +9 (pool play: Raiders 65/35 in ATS contests, though Chiefs still at least 70/30 in SU pools).
In the Sunday nighter, we get another live home underdog. My VSiN colleague Matt Youmans and I have the McRib to help with our handicapping, and we also have the Chargers’ “fade them as chalk, back them as dogs” mantra. After losing 23-20 as 3-point road faves at Green Bay on Sunday, they’re back in the preferred role with a chance to climb back into the AFC wild-card chase. We’re still not scared of the Ravens’ recent hot run as they still failed to cover on the road at the Cardinals in Week 8, so hopefully the travel spot keeps this close as well.
Best Bet: Chargers +3.5 (pool play: Chargers 60/40 in ATS contests, though Ravens still 60/40 in SU pools).
As noted above, this isn’t a very appealing Monday Night Football showcase (certainly not compared to Eagles-Chiefs in Week 11), but it’s a standalone game and will get plenty of action. Both these teams have been getting better for us against the spread recently, so we’ll certainly take the points with the Bears. They came through at +7.5 (and +8) as they covered in a 31-26 loss at Detroit in Justin Fields’ first game back. The Vikings have been improved with Joshua Dobbs, but I don’t believe they should be favored by more than a field goal.
Best Bet: Bears +3.5 (pool play: Bears 60/40 in ATS contests, but Vikings 60/40 in SU pools).