LAS VEGAS -- Last week, I had my second straight losing week and fell below .500 for the first time since starting this column in Week 2 last season. I can hear the vultures circling.
I know the backlash comes with the territory when publicly publishing picks, so I can deal with that. This is big-boy football, as the saying goes when you get beaten up a little.
But let me repeat what I said when I was winning: I'm a journalist first and a handicapper second, and I'm not a professional gambler. I try to approach it that way using the lessons I've learned from covering the Las Vegas sports-betting beat since the 1990s, and that's what I bring to this column: looking at what the public thinks about each game, what the wiseguys think and then giving my take.
I know my "dog-or-pass" philosophy isn't for everyone, but it has worked for me and I'm not going to abandon it based on short-term results. Over the long haul, favorites and underdogs are going to even out around .500. In fact, faves lead this year just 32-29-2 ATS after the Browns' cover as a four-point favorite Thursday night.
My biggest error last week was with home underdogs. I've done very well with them over the years, but not so much early this season. I didn't use the Rams versus the 49ers on Thursday night, but then on Sunday I liked the Jaguars versus the Colts, Texans versus the Seahawks and Raiders versus the Redskins. They all lost. The ones I passed on -- Bills versus Ravens, Browns versus Bengals and Chargers versus Cowboys -- all won.
In short, I'm not struggling in the early season because I've picked all dogs. Rather, I'm not making the right decisions on the strongest ones to play. Hopefully we change that this week.
Programming note: I'm no longer eligible for ESPN.com's Streak for the Cash contest, but I'm going suggest some plays. This is different from picking games against the spread -- especially since they mostly have you pick games straight-up and the games are pretty closer to pick 'em -- but it's all about win percentages/odds. I'll tackle those at the end of the column.
Last week: 2-5 ATS | Season to date: 12-14-1 (46.2 percent) ATS
Note: Consensus pick percentages as of late Thursday night.
Matchup: Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans
Spread: Chiefs minus-3
Public consensus pick: 82 percent picked Chiefs
Public perception: This line was Titans minus-1 in the advance line at the LVH SuperBook before the Week 4 games were played. Jake Locker's hip injury swung the Chiefs to favorite status, but I think the public would have been on them anyway due to their 4-0 start, as evidenced by the overloaded support even as the line has gone to Chiefs minus-3.
Wiseguys' view: Sharps were also happy to bet the Chiefs laying less than a field goal, but have backed off since. If this goes to 3.5, many will buy back on the Titans, who will also be a popular teaser play.
Tuley's Take: This is the first of six home underdogs, the same total as last week. I don't like the Titans enough to make them an official play, as I think the Chiefs are the better team on both sides of the ball. Plus, we're not getting enough points here.
The pick: Pass (pool play: Titans)