Last week’s 1-4 record was rough, but I still have several things for which to be thankful heading into Thanksgiving weekend — in addition to the clichés like my family, my health and living in a country where sports betting is more widely accepted every day!
1) Underdogs were 7-6-1 against the spread (ATS) in NFL Week 12, so hopefully other dog-or-pass bettors fared better than yours truly — and are still 94-75-5 ATS (55.3%) on the season.
2) I’m even strangely thankful for the Rams’ 45-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Let me explain: The whole chalk-betting world was on the favored Ravens and, as underdog and contrarian bettors, we need those bettors to cash a few “easy wins” because it keeps them betting that way and driving point spreads higher. There are several games this weekend in which I feel the oddsmakers are shading the lines too low because dogs have been cashing so much. So we have to sacrifice a few setbacks like that to keep balance in the force (see the San Francisco 49ers’ pick below for where it helps us).
As for the L.A. teams this weekend, I’m passing because they’re both favored: The Rams are -3 at Arizona and the Chargers are wavering between 2.5- and three-point favorites at Denver.
Here are the five underdogs I like this holiday weekend.
Bills (+6.5) at Cowboys (Thursday)
I’ve been high on the Buffalo defense and we all just saw what New England did to the Dallas offense, albeit in less-than-ideal conditions. Still, I’ll take the Bills’ defense to keep Buffalo in this game with a great shot at an upset with Josh Allen and the offense performing better of late. This line was available at +7.5 and +7, but I agree with the line move and like the Bills’ chances enough to still call it a “Best Bet” at +6.5.
Falcons (+7) vs. Saints (Thursday)
I love taking a team that won the earlier divisional matchup and is getting points in the rematch. The Falcons just whipped the Saints, 26-9, two and a half weeks ago and are now getting a touchdown. Granted, the Saints have bounced back with two straight wins and will make adjustments for this rematch, but don’t forget that they also just had a hard time putting away divisional rival Carolina in a 34-31 non-covering victory this past Sunday. And that was at home.
49ers (+6) at Ravens
The advance line on this game last week was Baltimore -4.5 and now it’s up to -6 after the Ravens routed the Rams. But wasn’t the 49ers’ 37-8 rout of Green Bay on “Sunday Night Football” just as impressive? If any team can match up with the speed of the Ravens’ offense, it’s the 49ers’ defense. Besides, this potential Super Bowl preview means more to the 49ers, who are trying to hold off the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West and secure a first-round bye. The Ravens pretty much have a first-round bye secured in the AFC.
Raiders (+10) at Chiefs
The Raiders were run over by the New York Jets, 34-3, on Sunday in their last road game, but they’ve taken their show on the road with a win at Indianapolis, a win over Chicago in London and covered in three-point loss at Houston. Even though the Chiefs won these teams’ first meeting, 28-10, the Raiders led 10-0 after the first quarter before the Chiefs outscored them 28-0 in the second. After halftime adjustments, they played to a 0-0 tie in the second half, so these teams aren’t as far apart as the oddsmakers have determined.
Texans (+3.5) vs. Patriots
I was feeling shorted at +3, but now we’re seeing +3.5. Deshaun Watson and the Houston offense are explosive enough to put up points even on New England’s vaunted defense, as long as the pass protection holds up. Tom Brady and his offense haven’t been up to their usual standards, and Brady is playing through an elbow injury.
LAST WEEK IN THE TIMES: 1-4.
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