Stuckey’s Updated NFL Teaser Guide & Week 4 Betting Picks for Vikings vs Saints, Chiefs vs Buccaneers

Stuckey’s Updated NFL Teaser Guide & Week 4 Betting Picks for Vikings vs Saints, Chiefs vs Buccaneers article feature image

Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Brady.

Based on the current spreads (which could obviously change), it looks like a logical week to do the annual refresh of my NFL teaser guide.

I'll go over the math behind the highest value teasers you can bet by reviewing five rules every bettor should consider. I'll also briefly discuss a few other meaningful factors and  rank my favorite teaser options for Week 4 along with some commentary.

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Rule 1: Cross Key Numbers

Historically, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10 and 14 are the six most common margins of victory in the NFL. However, 3 and 7 are kings since games end on those two numbers at a significantly higher clip than the rest. Therefore, you almost always want to cross both when teasing a side.

From a purely mathematical standpoint, you give yourself an edge without taking anything else into account by simply crossing 3 and 7 with both parts of a teaser at -110. You may hear some bettors refer to doing this as the good ol' Wong teaser (in reference to gambling author Stanford Wong).

In order to break even on a 6-point teaser at -110, you need teams that have a greater than 72.4% chance of covering after being teased. If we look back in our Bet Labs database, all NFL regular season spreads since 2003 covered only 68.7% (6,638-3,026) of the time if teased six points over a sample set containing just under 10,000 data points. That obviously doesn't clear the hurdle rate of 72.4%.

The story changes if we filter for all teases that would've captured both the 3 and 7.

NFL regular season underdogs between +1.5 and +2.5 covered a 6-point teaser 75.2% of the time (374-123). And favorites between -7.5 and -8.5 have historically covered at a slightly higher clip of 76.8% (218-66). That gives us a total of 592-189 or 75.8%, which easily clears the 72.4% hurdle rate. 

Those results capture the closing lines on all teams in those specific spread ranges. If you consider a few other factors (which I'll explain shortly), you can potentially improve that percentage. Again, this analysis only applies to teasing NFL sides.

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Rule 2: Don't Ever Cross Zero

On a related note, don't even consider teasing teams like the Colts (-3.5) this week.

Recreational bettors make this mistake far too often. You're simply giving up too much edge by crossing over a dead range that will only include a maximum of one key number.

This is even crazier in the playoffs since games can't end in a tie. You're essentially paying for points that don't matter. Just don't do it!

Rule 3: Don't Tease Totals

NFL totals simply don't fall on certain numbers or within a specific range enough to justify the math. There are key numbers to be aware of when betting over/unders, but they don't hit frequently enough for a tease to make any mathematical sense.

The one possible exception: teasing a side and total in the same game that you believe are correlated (usually underdog/under and/or favorite/over), but that rarely comes up. Bottom line: you'll be a much better bettor once you completely stop considering totals for teasers.

Rule 4: Price Matters

Make sure you shop around!

Don't pay -130 for a 6-point teaser (which would significantly increase your long term hurdle rate) when there are still books out there that offer -120. DraftKings and bet365 are two legal U.S. books that offer -120.

Everything I've said is predicated on the fact that you have access to a reasonable teaser price (-120 or lower). The break-even point for a 6-point teaser at -130 odds suddenly jumps from 72.4% to 75.2% — which is right at the historical rate (75.8%) I illustrated above. Paying anything greater than -130 heavily tilts the edge in the book's favor and I personally wouldn't go above -120.

Price focus shouldn't just be the case for teasers, but for all types of betting. You need to hit 52.4% just to break even at average odds of -110, but that threshold jumps to 54.6% at -120.

Rule 5: Know the Rules

Make sure you familiarize yourself with your book's teaser rules and payouts, as they can vary significantly from payout structure to rules for ties.

I recommend only using 6-point teasers, as each additional half-point teased away from the original spread becomes marginally less valuable to the bettor. I'd only ever consider a 7-point teaser if you stumbled upon -130 odds or better and are teasing a 9.5-point favorite down to 2.5 in order to cross the almighty 3 and 7.

Five or 10-cent differences might not seem like much to a recreational bettor, but they add up. Every cent and half-point matters if you want to take this seriously.

Lastly, I'm only referring to two-team teasers in this piece. Depending on the price, it could make more sense to do a 3-team teaser at odds of +180 or better, but that's a conversation for another day.

Other Considerations

Here are five other factors (some minor) that I at least think about before finalizing an NFL teaser:

  • Lower-scoring games: Naturally, teasing an underdog with a low total is inherently more valuable than doing so when the total is high since points are more valuable in the former.
  • "Backdoorability": How will the opposing defense play late and/or how much do you trust your quarterback to drive down the field late in the game for a "meaningless" touchdown?
  • Coaching: Do you have a competent coach who will understand kicking down 10 with under two minutes left is smarter than trying to score a touchdown in the final seconds?
  • Special teams: Do you have a special teams edge overall and, more importantly, a kicker you trust? This becomes even more critical with the recent extra-point rule changes. As a result, it makes teasing an underdog from +2.5 to +8.5 even more valuable, so make sure you shop around as always!
  • Parlay payout: If you're teasing two favorites down, check the payout for a moneyline parlay. It could pay out more for essentially the same bet.

One other note that especially applies this season: If this current lower scoring environment persists, teasers will hold even more value.

Favorite Week 4 Teaser Options

Quite a few teams fit the above six-point teaser criteria in Week 4. Here are my rankings for each:

  1. Bucs +2.5 to +8.5 vs. Chiefs (O/U: 45)
  2. Saints +2.5 to +8.5 vs. Vikings (O/U: 43.5)
  3. Falcons +1.5 to +7.5 vs. Browns (O/U: 49.5)
  4. Rams +2.5 to +8.5 at 49ers (O/U: 42)
  5. Cardinals +1.5 to +8.5 at Panthers (O/U: 42.5)
  6. Broncos +2.5 to +8.5 at Raiders (O/U: 45)

Tampa is a no-brainer for me even with the weather and location uncertainty, especially with Tom Brady coming off of a loss playing in a game with a low total. The Bucs defense is playing lights out so far this season and the offense should get a few key pieces back this week.

I'll also add that you should simply place a straight wager on a team if you like that side. However, if you only like a side a bit but not enough to play it straight, that's when teasers come into play. That's the case for Tampa with me this week in a game I also lean under, so I teased them up from +2.5 in a game I made +1.

Take a look at these historical Brady trends if you need an extra push:

  • 28-12 ATS (70%) as an underdog, covering by over 7.5 points per game
  • A perfect 9-0 when teased as an underdog between 1 and 3 points.
  • 45-19 (70.3%) ATS after a loss, covering by 5.85 points per game
  • 17-1 ATS (94.4%) after a loss as an underdog or favorite of less than a field goal, covering by 14 points per game
  • 32-6 ATS (84.2%) after a loss as an underdog or favorite of less than 7 points

In regards to the Saints, getting over 8 with a total of 43.5 is obviously enticing against the Vikings in London. New Orleans also possesses a travel and preparation edge in this particular matchup, having arrived across the pond on Monday, while the Vikings won't get there until Friday morning. I prefer the earlier trip to give players the time to acclimate to the time change.

I'm not surprised the Saints chose this route, considering head coach Dennis Allen has made the trip twice before as an assistant with New Orleans and once as a head coach of the Raiders. Meanwhile, Minnesota head coach Kevin O'Connell has never made the trip during his professional career. I also don't think there's any downgrade if Andy Dalton gets the start over an injured Winston.

The only reason I have the Falcons ranked first (despite having the highest total) among the remaining four qualifiers is I actually like the Raiders, 49ers and lean Carolina, but all are certainly viable teaser options.

Here are some relevant tidbits to ponder:

  • In his career, Russell Wilson is 19-0 when teased six points as an underdog in games with a total of 45 or less. Can the Raiders finally put a full 60 minutes together?
  • Kliff Kingsbury has covered seven straight games on the road as an underdog. Overall, he's 14-3-2 ATS (82.3%) as a road pup, covering by an average margin of over 10 points per game. He's covered seven straight as a road pup. Can the Cardinals finally not dig themselves an early hole?
  • Including the postseason, Kyle Shanahan is 8-3 ATS against Sean McVay, covering by an average margin of almost five points per game.  That includes a perfect 3-0 record against Stafford since he arrived in Los Angeles. Two of the three he didn't cover occurred back in 2018 with CJ Beathard and Nick Mullens under center.
  • The Falcons have started out 3-0 ATS. Since 2003, undefeated ATS teams have gone just 27-40-1 ATS (40.3%) in Week 4. Cleveland, which should have success running the ball against Atlanta, will also benefit from a few extra days of rest and preparation after playing last Thursday night. Meanwhile, Atlanta will travel back East after staying on the west coast for back-to-back road games against the Rams and Seahawks.

The only possible exceptions that I'd ever make to the teaser rules I outlined above is teasing a field goal underdog up in a game with a super low total if I also like the matchup or see value in the regular spread. We will potentially have quite a few of those this weekend, depending on where the market goes in the coming days.

Stuckey's Favorite Week 4 Teaser:  Bucs +8.5 & Saints +8.5

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