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Tuley’s Takes: Big season for NFL underdogs bodes well for Rams against Ravens

Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers: Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen drops back to pass
Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen drops back to pass against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in Charlotte, N.C.
(Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)

It’s easy to be a “dog-or-pass” bettor when underdogs are barking like they have been most of this NFL season.

And dogs are still 87-70-4 against the spread (ATS) against the consensus closing lines in Vegas this year after favorites bounced back last week at 9-4-1 ATS, but I actually felt a bigger sense of accomplishment pulling a 3-1 ATS record with my best bets last week on the landmine-filled card.

We also split with added plays on the Under in the Rams’ 17-7 win over the Bears on “Sunday Night Football” and losing the Under in the Chargers’ 24-17 loss to the Chiefs on “Monday Night Football” in Mexico City. This week, the Chargers have a bye and the Rams are among my five (hopefully) live underdogs.

Rams (+3) vs. Ravens (Monday)

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The world has seemingly fallen in love with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens (8-2), and for good reasons. However, I think people are dismissing the Rams too quickly. Granted, they’ve underachieved (probably due to the “Super Bowl loser hangover”) at 6-4, but they’re 7-3 ATS while the Ravens are just 5-5 ATS. I’m not saying the Rams’ win over the Bears has cured all their ills (though more of a reliance on the running game was a move in the right direction), but they certainly have the talent on both sides of the ball to match up with the Ravens, and I’m expecting them to get up for the “Monday Night Football” stage. Most sportsbooks have gone to Raven minus-3 -120, so I’d wait to make any wagers. There’s a great chance we’ll see Rams +3.5 by game day.

Dolphins (+10.5) at Browns

The Dolphins were run over by the Bills 37-20, but I was happy for two reasons. 1) I avoided taking them even though they had covered five games in a row, as I felt the price was too short. 2) The Westgate’s advance line for this game was Browns minus-9, and now we’re getting more than double digits! So, yes, I’m back on the Dolphins, who have been competitive the last month and a half. Besides, I’m not buying that the Browns, who lost the helmet-wielding Myles Garrett, are suddenly a covering machine even though they beat the Steelers 21-7 on Thursday night.

Broncos (+4) at Bills

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The Broncos are the type of popular underdog I’ve been avoiding with success lately, but I’m agreeing with the line move from +5.5 to +4 and still recommend them at this price. The Broncos came through for us Sunday as 10.5-point road underdogs at the Vikings, building a 20-0 lead before losing 27-23 but holding on for the cover. Although I certainly respect what the Bills have done, they’re still mostly a team that relies on defense, and quarterback Josh Allen does just enough to secure the wins. I certainly expect the Broncos’ defense to do a better job of containing Allen and keeping Denver in what should be a low-scoring game (total is lowest of the week at 37) that could come down to a field goal.

Panthers (+9.5) at Saints

A lot of people have jumped off the Panthers’ bandwagon. They’ve lost three of their last four, including an embarrassing 29-3 loss to the lowly Falcons on Sunday, and Kyle Allen no longer looks like Carolina’s next Superman. However, I think they’re worth another shot, especially getting nearly double digits — and a few books did go to +10 on Tuesday afternoon, so wait for this line to peak — against a Saints team that beat the Buccaneers 34-17 last week but were similarly whipped 26-9 by the Falcons just two weeks ago. I don’t see why the Panthers can’t stay within a touchdown.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles played well during a loss to the Indianapolis Colts last week.
(Andy Lyons / Getty Images)

Jaguars (+3) at Titans

These teams are pretty close to mirror images: reliance on the running game, defenses that step up at times, plus their records and stats. But I’m taking the Jaguars again as 3-point divisional dogs even though the Colts blew them out 33-13 on Sunday. That game got away from the Jags, and I expect a better effort from Nick Foles, who actually didn’t play badly in defeat. He went 33-for-47 (70%) for 296 yards and two TD passes to D.J. Chark (8 catches, 104 yards). I’m also encouraged by the Jaguars winning the earlier meeting 20-7 in Week 3, with Chark scoring a TD (from Gardner Minshew) while Sacksonville took down Marcus Mariota nine times. The Titans’ offense has been better with Ryan Tannehill, but I don’t expect them to close the gap.

LAST WEEK IN THE TIMES: 3-1.

SEASON (SuperContest): 29-25-1.

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