Welcome to the second installment of "Tuley's Take." I didn't embarrass myself too much last week, so they're invited me back to help guide ESPN Insider readers through many different points of view in trying to predict what will happen in this weekend's NFL games.
We look at what the public (we try to resist calling them "squares") is thinking with a Public Consensus Pick derived from data accumulated from multiple sports books. We'll also use the consensus plays of the record 745 entrants in the prestigious LVH SuperContest in Las Vegas when those are released Saturday afternoon, and you're certainly invited to check out the new ESPN PickCenter with more stats and score projections from different companies on each game.
I'll then give the public and wiseguys' point of view on why they're on the side they like, and then give my "take" on the game. As I wrote last week, I don't always land on the side of the wiseguys as I know that the wise guys don't always win and the public doesn't always lose.
Now, in last week's comments section, ESPN Insider member NoChase878 asked for the plays to be tracked. I have no problem with that -- for better or worse, for richer or poorer -- though when I accepted this assignment, I asked for the right to pass on games. With that being the case, or with me offering a "lean" on a game, it's not always black-and-white on what constitutes an official play.
Last week, I count myself as being 9-4 against the spread in games in which I expressed an opinion. I had clear winners on the Indianpolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Atlanta Falcons, with losses on the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions.
The two that were in the "gray area" were the Arizona Cardinals -- on whom I first passed before taking them at plus-14 or higher (and was available on and off over the weekend) -- and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at plus-7.5. I wrote that I would take the Bucs plus the hook (which I did in the SuperContest where the line was plus-7.5), but I also wrote the play with a line of 7 would be on the Giants. I can see where people would say I was playing both sides of the fence there, but that's how the real sports world works.
When dealing with the key numbers, especially 3 and 7, a half-point can make all the difference in which side is the sharp play. And actually, I feel my best advice last week was on the Browns-Bengals game where I officially passed but I also wrote, "This game is priced right. If you're in a contest or pool that moves the line to 6.5 or 7.5, you know what side to take." The Bengals won by seven, and no one should have done worse than a push.
That's the kind of advice I'm looking to share, whether you're actually betting, playing in contests or office pools, or just trying to see what Vegas and/or the wiseguys think of your favorite team's chances.
Note: Consensus Pick percentages as of late Thursday night.
Matchup: St. Louis Rams at Chicago Bears
Current spread: Bears minus-7.5
Public consensus pick: 56.1 percent picked Rams
Supercontestants: 145-65 in favor of Rams
Public perception: It doesn't take a wiseguy to see the Rams are thisclose to being 2-0. The public is also getting off the Chicago bandwagon after Jay Cutler threw his teammates under the bus after their Thursday night loss in Green Bay, so it's not surprising this is just one of three games the public is backing the underdog.
Wiseguys' view: The wiseguys pounded the Bears over the summer in odds to win the Super Bowl, NFC, division, season win totals and advance lines on many of their games, so they're not going to be as quick to jump ship.
Tuley's take: I don't pick many favorites and it has been years since I laid more than a touchdown in the NFL, but the value would be on the Bears at minus-7. The more likely play is to tease it under a field goal. Pick: Pass (unless it drops)
Matchup: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys