LAS VEGAS -- Welcome to the third season of this Tuley's Take column, where we look at how the public is betting each NFL game on the weekend card, what the wiseguys are thinking and then I weigh in with my take.
Two years ago, I started hotter than the asphalt here in the summer as I was 28-10 (73.1 percent) through the first six weeks of the season before cooling off and finishing a still respectable 72-58-2 (55.4 percent) against the spread.
Last year, it was the exact opposite as I started a woeful 15-19-1 through the first six weeks. I rallied during the middle of the season but finished a subpar 55-62-3 (47 percent) ATS.
Wondering which side to take? Check out PickCenter and do your research before making that critical decision. PickCenter
Which Tuley will show up this year? Only time will tell.
I'll start with my annual disclaimer that I'm not claiming to be a professional bettor. I'm a journalist first and a handicapper second, but I certainly try to apply the lessons learned covering the Las Vegas sports betting beat since 1998. I'll give my thoughts on every game on the card. If I don't have an official pick (and those are the only ones I include in my documented record), I'll post a "pool play" for those who want that input for their pools or other action.
For those who don't know, I'm an underdog-or-pass bettor. Some people love it; some hate it. I already know the comments will have the predictable statements -- "All you do is pick underdogs" -- but I think it's better if we can have a more intelligent conversation and have people tell me what picks they think are wrong and give reasons why. I love discussing this stuff and trying to help each other learn. To me, that's what this is all about, as opposed to focusing on the win-loss record.
Streak for the Cash: I'm no longer eligible to play ESPN.com's Streak for the Cash contest, but they've asked me to suggest some plays. This is different from picking games against the spread -- especially because they mostly have you pick games straight up and the games are closer to pick 'em -- but it's all about win percentages/odds, so I'll tackle those at the end of the column.
Note: Westgate is the new owner of the LVH Hotel, which was formerly known as the Hilton, but the SuperBook name lives on.
Note: Public Consensus Pick percentages from ESPN Insider's PickCenter as of late Thursday night.
Matchup: New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
Spread: Saints minus -3 (EVEN)
Public consensus pick: 78 percent picked Saints
Public perception: The Saints are a pretty public team these days, and the public continues to bet this number higher (and approaching 80 percent of bets, according to PickCenter and other bet-tracking sites). There are many who believe the Falcons will rebound from last season's 4-12 disaster, but they're still seen as a notch below the Saints.
Wiseguys' view: The oddsmakers at the LVH (now Westgate) SuperBook opened this as Falcons minus-2 when the Week 1 schedule was released April 23, and most other books followed at minus-1 or minus-2, but sharp money was all on the Saints, and the public has followed suit.
Tuley's Take: The Saints are my Super Bowl pick, and after the schedule was announced, I made this one of my best bets in Week 1 in my ESPN Insider column the next morning, as I predicted the Saints would be bet to favoritism. I'm going to