- Dave Tuley, ESPN Staff Writer
OK, this is getting a little ridiculous.
The point of doing an NFL picks column is to have the best record possible, but one of the long-held beliefs in Las Vegas is that no one can consistently hit better than 60 percent against the spread versus widely available numbers. It's common for wiseguys to denigrate those who claim outrageous winning percentages of 70 percent or higher. (Thankfully we don't see it as often as we used to.) After all, we know picking correctly at that high of a percentage is not believable or sustainable.
Last year's winner of the famed SuperContest -- a longtime goal of mine -- was a group of four golfing buddies that played under the alias Sans Souci and hit 72.5 percent of its plays. So it's not impossible over the short term, but that's picking five games a week instead of trying to break down the whole card.
Entering last week, I was 22-8 (73.3 percent) in this Tuley's Take column, and though I was expecting the inevitable regression to the mean, I went 6-2 (75 percent). The sad thing is that I'm hitting only 64 percent in the SuperContest (16-9) with my supposed best bets and stand two games out of first place.
Trust me, this is not an attempt to get into the #Humblebrag Hall of Fame at Grantland. However, the very fact I mention it (and provide a link) might be construed as evidence to the contrary!
I wasn't asked to do this piece because I was off to a hot start. In fact, you missed my first week when I went 2-3 in the SuperContest and would have been 5-6 overall, so the timing to go on a hot streak couldn't have been better. The goal of this column is to provide a look at how the public is looking at the games and what the wiseguys think, then give my take. The formula has worked so far, and I'd like to believe the process has helped me see the ball clearly.
While we acknowledge the possibility of the week where it all goes horribly wrong -- most likely in a week where all of the favorites cover, as I certainly understand a lot of my success is tied to the fact that underdogs are 46-30-2 (60.5 percent) after the Titans' upset of the Steelers on Thursday night -- let's see how far we can carry this pick success.
Last week: 6-2 ATS | Year-to-date: 28-10 (73.7 percent) ATS
Note: Consensus pick percentages as of Friday afternoon.
Spread: Bengals minus-1
Public consensus pick: 60 percent picked Bengals
Supercontestants: 203-87 in favor of Bengals
Public perception: The Bengals are assumed to be the better team, so it's no surprise the public is on them again, even though they let down backers last week in their loss to the Dolphins. The Browns are still seen as one of the worst teams in the league.
Wiseguys' view: The sharps will probably be on the Browns as a short home 'dog. The Browns covered against the Ravens in the Thursday night game two weeks ago and were up 14 points on the Giants last week before letting that game slip away. Their best game so far was probably in Week 2 when they lost 34-27 and pushed against the 7-point spread at Cincy -- and this week they get the Bengals at home.
Tuley's take: I'm not a big fan of the revenge angle, as I prefer to think that if a team proved it can beat an opponent once, it's more likely the better side and will win again. If I'm taking a team that lost the previous meeting, I generally want more points than this. The pick:
4dEric D. Williams
3dEric D. Williams
3dMel Kiper Jr.