- Dave Tuley, ESPN Insider
LAS VEGAS -- I've said it before, I'll say it again, and I'll keep saying it: The point spread is the great equalizer.
I went 3-3 against the spread last week and remain at exactly .500 at 27-27-1 ATS. That's certainly not the goal as we try to find value to increase the winning percentage. But last week, at least, I found my "dog-or-pass" contrarian approach -- which often finds me against the general public and on the same side that the sports books need -- to be a moral victory as favorites went 8-5 ATS and the books had their worst week so far this season.
If anything, I wish I had been a little more selective. In the LVH SuperContest, where you pick five games per week, I dropped my sixth play here of the Falcons plus-2.5 versus the Cardinals mainly because it was turning into a public dog. If I had passed here as well, I would have managed to stay above .500. But I guess I can't beat myself up too much as my plays on the Cowboys-Lions and Giants-Eagles ended up being winning plays for the public as well. If I had passed on all of those, I would have fared even worse.
So it's back to the betting board with a second straight week with six teams on a bye. Hopefully we make the right calls on get on the right side of .500.
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. Good luck.
Last week: 3-3 ATS | Year to date: 27-27-1 (50 percent) ATS
Note: Consensus pick percentages as of late Thursday night.
Matchup: Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers
Spread: Panthers minus-7.5
Public consensus pick: 59 percent picked Panthers
Public perception: The Panthers have won and covered three straight games in blowout fashion and the public has jumped on the bandwagon. Cam Newton has mixed the run and the pass for a balanced offense and the defense is ranked fourth in the league. Meanwhile, the Falcons have turned into a team to fade as they've underachieved to the tune of 2-5 SU and ATS.
Wiseguys' view: I'd like to thank those who have taken the time to say they appreciate me pointing out the profitable teaser games even though they're not part of my official record here. This is one of the games that will be a popular teaser for both sharps and squares this week as you can get the Panthers under a field goal.
Tuley's Take: As far as the spread is concerned, I think it's been overinflated (it was Panthers minus-6 on the LVH's advance line just a week ago) based on the Panthers' short-term result and the Falcons' slide. Yes, the Panthers are looking good and I'll likely be on them as a 'dog in some of their games coming up, but I don't think this line should be more than a touchdown based on their wins over the Vikings, Rams and Buccaneers. I mean, the Falcons are struggling, but they're still better than those teams and will make a game of this. It certainly wouldn't be shocking if they pull the outright upset.
The pick: Falcons.
Dave Tuley offers a Week 9 ATS pick on every NFL game, including public perception and wiseguys' views.