- Dave Tuley, ESPN Insider
LAS VEGAS -- As I've written before, my goal for picking NFL winners is between 55 percent and 60 percent against the spread.
We see people all the time who claim they can hit a lot higher percentage, but even the best bettors in the world know that 60 percent ATS isn't attainable over the long run and that 55 percent is perfectly respectable. So when I'm looking to make a bet, I'm trying to convince myself that I have a 5-in-9 chance of cashing. If I do, then it's a play, and if I'm estimating my edge correctly (people who say "this has a 90 percent chance of winning" are misleading themselves when the books are trying to make these bets a 50/50 proposition with the point spread being the great equalizer), I know I'll be all right. The upward goal of 60 percent is because that's what it usually takes to cash in the LVH SuperContest.
In Week 1, I was struggling along with most bettors on Sunday and then rallied with wins on the Eagles and Chargers to finish 4-2-1 ATS in this column where I try to give the public perception, the wiseguys' view and then my take. Last week, I started 3-1 in Sunday's early games and was feeling pretty good with myself at 7-3-1 (70 percent, way ahead of schedule) before losing with the Giants against the Broncos in the afternoon game and the Steelers against the Bengals on Monday night.
While disappointed with the 3-3 mark, it still left me at 7-5-1 (58.3 percent) and right in the wheelhouse, so I can't complain. Let's take a look at Week 3's weekend card as I try to maintain or improve on that, especially as I see many live underdogs.
Last week: 3-3 ATS | Year to date: 7-5-1 (58.3 percent) ATS
Note: Consensus pick percentages as of late Thursday night.
Matchup: San Diego Chargers at Tennessee Titans
Spread: Titans -3
Public consensus pick: 55 percent picked Chargers
Public perception: The public is fairly split on these two early-season surprise teams (both 2-0 ATS with 1 outright upset apiece and each with a cover in a straight-up loss to the Texans) but slightly leaning toward the Chargers, as their upset of the Eagles looks better than the Titans upset of the Steelers.
Wiseguys' view: This line has been split all week with the sharps who like the Chargers plus-3.5, while those on the Titans laying just 3. Many will take both sides hoping that it lands with Titans winning by exactly 3 so they cash the plus-3.5 while getting a refund on the minus-3.
Tuley's Take: I've been on the Chargers both weeks, so I can say I saw them coming. But I wasn't high on the Titans this year, even as 'dogs. The Titans are in a tough spot, as teams that overachieve as underdogs are usually bad bets when dressed up as a favorite. I also agree that the Chargers' upset of the Eagles was more impressive than the Titans' win over the Steelers.
Dave Tuley offers a Week 3 ATS pick on every NFL game, including public perception and wiseguys' views.