LAS VEGAS – Welcome to "Tuley's Take -- Take 2" as we break down each week's NFL games from an against-the-spread standpoint and Vegas point of view.
Last season, I went a solid 72-58-2 (55.4 percent) against the spread, though it was a little disappointing after hovering around 75 percent for the first five weeks. But this is meant as a realistic look at the betting market, and no one can maintain a winning percentage like that. I'll happily take 55 percent every season (just wish it was that easy).
To be clear, I'm a journalist first and a handicapper second. I don't pretend to be a professional bettor, but I approach sports betting using the lessons I've learned covering the race and sports books in Vegas since 1998 for various publications and websites, including GamingToday (a weekly Vegas newspaper), Daily Racing Form (the horseplayer's bible) and my own ViewFromVegas.com website.
Each week, we'll list every game along with the current spread, taking a look at the public's perception of the matchup, the wiseguys' view and then my own "take" on the game. Just like the sharps in Vegas, I don't bet every game, but rather try to pick my spots. Due to popular demand, I'll give a "pool play" for those looking for an opinion of some sort.
I'm a "dog-or-pass" bettor -- more than even most wiseguys. Some people take that to mean I like every underdog, but that's not true, as I pass on many underdogs if I don't think I'm getting enough points in that particular matchup. Hopefully you weren't with me on the Ravens in Thursday night's opener. That won't be tracked as part of our purposes here, but I gave it out on the "Thursday Night Primer" piece and will contribute to that each week.
This season, my aim is to provide more insight into how the pros here in Vegas view the games, and to pick more winners along the way (again, 55 percent is an attainable goal). Good luck in Week 1!
Last Year: 72-58-2 ATS (55.4 percent)
Note: Public Consensus Pick percentages from ESPN Insider's PickCenter as of late Thursday.
Matchup: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
Current spread: Patriots minus-9.5
Public consensus pick: 61 percent picked Patriots
Public perception: The public loves to bet the Patriots at any price. There's also the sentiment out there that it's a lot to ask for a rookie quarterback like EJ Manuel to make his first NFL start against Bill Belichick. There's some evidence to back that up, with the Boston Herald reporting the Pats are 13-4 straight up against rookie quarterbacks in the Belichick era. They're also 4-0 SU and 3-1 against the spread against first-time starters.
Wiseguys' view: Laying more than a touchdown on the road in the NFL is the quickest way to the poorhouse, so the wiseguys know it's "dog or pass" here. In fact, over the last three years, home dogs of 8 or more points are 24-3 ATS.
Tuley's Take: I've been on a lot of those big home dogs and can't resist this one either. I'm also not so sure the Patriots can just "flip the switch" after a rough offseason and preseason with Tom Brady breaking in a whole new offense. The pick: