- Dave Tuley, ESPN Staff Writer
I had the Falcons plus-9 and felt like I got off the schneid, so to speak, as I'm coming off a record of 0-6-2 against the spread in posted NFL picks for Week 11. And even though I know I didn't have that bad of a weekend, as I actually won my personal bet on the 49ers plus-3.5 against the Saints and also bet the Raiders when it got to plus-10.5 versus the Texans and went 3-0 on college plays, it still was a much-needed win to start the new week.
Now, I know I can't include the Falcons' win in this column or my other wins, just like I don't count my other losses, but it just goes to show that publicly posted records are just a small snapshot and not the whole picture. This isn't to say I'm not embarrassed by last week's record, as it is out there in the public and I know what comes with the territory, but I can own it and live with it.
I'm not going to claim all bad beats for my poor record at this point, but I've had more than my share of games that slipped away. Heck, there was even a point Thursday night early in the fourth quarter when I felt like I would be snakebit again. The Falcons had fallen behind 17-13 and were marching toward a go-ahead touchdown (or at least a field goal) to get back within one point. Then wide receiver Darius Johnson fumbled the ball back to the Saints, who were just a touchdown away from covering. Fortunately the Falcons held on, and hopefully this was a sign things are turning around.
I've written it many times, but it bears repeating. I'm a journalist first and handicapper second. I'm mostly a recreational bettor, but I try to apply the lessons learned on the sports betting beat in Vegas and bet like the sharps (though with a more extreme use of my underdog-or-pass philosophy, which isn't working as well this season, but I still maintain it's more my fault for picking the wrong dogs than a flawed approach). Let's look at his week's games with an eye toward what the public is thinking, how the wiseguys are approaching each game and my take.
Remember, I don't sell picks; I'm not even trying to get people to follow me. The main purpose of this column (which is aimed at recreational bettors and fans, as the true professionals don't need to read what I'm writing) is to provide a groundwork for how to approach the game and start an open, honest discussion of this activity so many of us love. Follow me, fade me, it's all the same to me, as we're all learning together.
Last week: 0-6-2 ATS | Season to date: 30-41-3 (42.3 percent) ATS
Programming Note: I'm no longer eligible for 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: Consensus pick percentages from ESPN Pick Center as of early Friday morning.
Matchup: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions
Spread: Lions minus-9
Public consensus pick: 55 percent picked Buccaneers
Public perception: The public is helping drive down this number, which was Lions minus-10 in the LVH advance lines last week and was re-opened at minus-9 and minus-9.5 on Sunday and Monday. But it's now down to minus-8.5 at several books both in Vegas and offshore. The public knows the Bucs have won two straight (and covered three straight including their spread-covering loss at Seattle in Week 9). Quarterback Mike Glennon has proved more than serviceable and faces the Lions' weak pass defense (283.8 yards per game, 30th in NFL).
Wiseguys' view: Some sharps are certainly on the Bucs as well, though others will wait to see the cheapest price they can play on Lions. They'll probably also end up as a very popular teaser play for both sharps and squares.
Tuley's Take: The Bucs are playing better. I'm not overly excited that it's been against the Dolphins and Falcons, but the game at Seattle is more encouraging and they now get to face the Lions' secondary. I don't expect Tampa running back Bobby Rainey to rush for 163 yards against the Detroit defense like he did against Atlanta, but he should also be part of the passing game. The Bucs' defense will hopefully do enough to contain the Lions' offense.
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