It’s Thanksgiving Thursday and although that means, food, time for giving thanks, and being with family, it also means, bonus mid week football. Three games, back to back to back, on a Thursday afternoon. It’s glorious, and I’m taking a look at the spread bets, trends, and where I might put my money on the NFL Games on Thanksgiving 2021.
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Detroit Lions vs Chicago Bears
Spread – Bears -3 | Over/Under: – 41.5 | Money line: Bears 20/29, Lions 5/4 (per Bet365)
The Bears open up 3 point favourites against the Lions on Thanksgiving, in Detroit, despite Justin Fields being out with a confirmed cracked rib(s) injury. Andy Dalton is one of the most experienced back ups in the league, and the Bears will need him to be on top form as they likely once again go out without Allen Robinson.
The Lions on the other hand, also face potential back up QB circumstances as Jared Goff is officially listed as doubtful the day before the game. Back up Tim Boyle had his work cut out at the weekend and likely cost the game for the Browns, after turning the ball over twice, despite the Lions defence forcing two turnovers of their own. Detroit’s game plan will have to factor heavily towards the run, along with short route concepts, to manage the workload and expectation placed on Boyle, who struggled pushing the ball down the field in Sundays game.
How are they trending?
The Lions are 6-4 this season against the spread. They have been the underdog in every game they’ve gone into. Interestingly, they do well against larger spreads, keeping games close against teams like the Steelers where Detroit were a +6 underdog, and last weekend against the Browns, going into that one a +13 under dog. However each time Detroit has been given 3.5 points or less to cover the spread, they’ve failed (Eagles +3, Bengals +3.5, Bears +3). They’re 6-1 against the spread in all of their other games. So do they go 0-4 tonight and continue that trend, with the spread being only 3 against the Bears this time around?
Detroit are also 7-1 in their last 8 games on unders. With the offence struggling to get in the endzone, and the defence stepping up their intensity and playing better football, Detroit Lions games have only cashed the over once in the last 8 weeks, and that was only because they let Philly hang 44 points on them.
The Bears on the other hand, have only been favourites in two of their games this season, and have won them both against the spread. The trend would suggest on both sides of the coin that the Bears win and cover. But I’m not so sure. The Bears have also only hit the over on three occasions this season, but twice in the last three weeks.
Here’s what I love. Dalton is in, Fields is out, it’s easier for the Bears to control Dalton and pressure him as a pocket passer. They don’t have the escapability to worry about. Tim Boyle and the Lions will need to rely heavily on D’Andre Swift and the run game to drive them down the field, taking time off the clock in the process if they can run the ball on the Bears. I like the under, a lot, and the Lions against the spread. Tim Boyle or not, there’s a real opportunity here for the Lions first win of the season.
Cowboys vs Raiders
Spread: Cowboys -7.5 | Over/Under: 51.5 | Money line: Cowboys 5/17, Raiders 27/10 (per Bet 365)
The Cowboys had a rough night against the Chiefs at the weekend, who have been leaking points this season to lesser opponents. They’re without Amari Cooper for the second week in a row due to COVID protocols, and Ceedee Lamb is in a race against time to get clearance to play, after suffering a concussion on Sunday.
The Raiders are without linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, which could cause a problem against the run if the Cowboys can get Zeke and Tony Pollard churning. The Raiders had a disappointing day offensively against the Bengals on Sunday, and will need to hold possession for longer in order to stand a chance against the Cowboys.
How are they trending?
The Cowboys are 8-2 against the spread, but 1-2 in their last 3 games, after going 7-0 ATS to start the season. The offence struggled in the two games Dallas failed to cover, only putting up 9 points against the Chiefs, and 16 against Denver, but then managed a casual 43 against the Falcons in between, so who knows which version of the Cowboys we shall see on Thanksgiving.
The Cowboys are also on a 4 game streak of failing to cover the over, after starting the season 5-1 in that category. Things have slowed down for them a little, but there’s a strong chance they bounce back against a tired Raiders team battling through a tough season.
The Raiders have lost their last three games, and lost them against the spread too, however tonights 7.5 points is the largest margin they’ve had as an underdog all season. They’re in the mid ranges on both categories, going 4-6 against the spread, and 5-5 against the over/under. The Raiders have only been a 5+ point underdog twice this season, and they won both of those games outright (Pittsburgh, Denver).
I like the under in this game too. The Cowboys are missing weapons, and the Raiders are heavily depleted. The only thing I see causing the over to come in is a woeful performance from the Raiders defence. I don’t see the difference makers that are going to make things happen against the Cowboys D, and equally without Amari Cooper, and potentially Ceedee Lamb, the Cowboys also miss that big play ability. They’d need a huge day from the running backs, or Michael Gallup to go off in order to get to 28 points.
Saints vs Bills
Spread: Bills -6.5 | Over/Under: 45 | Money line: Bills 10/27, Saints 11/5
The Bills have been caught out a couple of times in the last three weeks. Taking a stunning loss to the Jaguars, only scoring 6 points, and then a beat down to the Colts on Sunday. This is the point in the season where teams with weaknesses get found out, and the Bills running the ball only 13 times all day is exactly what I’m talking about, with 2 of those runs being Josh Allen himself. Their run game is weak, and when defences can key on the pass and disrupt Josh Allen throwing the football, the Bills crumble. They did it last year in the playoffs. They’ll need a much better outing against the Saints, easier said than done.
The Saints put 29 points on the board against the Eagles despite having no weapons offensively and back up Trevor Siemian now in charge. No knock on Siemian, he did a decent job on Sunday, but the Saints are far from healthy. Mark Ingram has done a good job since his return to New Orleans, and guys like Tre’Quan Smith and Adam Trautman are having to step up in the passing game.
How are they trending?
The Saints have cashed overs in their last 4 games, and despite the adversity they’ve still put up 21 points in each of those games, without Winston, and losing Kamara too, plus of course the absence of Michael Thomas. One thing is always certain, Sean Payton does the best with what he has, and he coaches a good game. The Saints are still scoring.
The Bills have been favourites in their last 5 games and have covered the spread in only one of those (Jets). Outside of that, they’ve lost ATS 3 times, and tied once. They’re lacking something (a run game), and it’s costing them.
I love the over in this game. I can see the Saints scoring 21+ again, and the Bills, without facing the winter weather, disrupting Josh Allen from throwing the ball and Tyler Bass making field goals, should also be back to scoring form. I wouldn’t touch the spread on this one, it feels like a trap, but I’d lean towards taking the Saints and the points if I had to choose.
Let us know how your bets go tonight, and a very happy Thanksgiving to all!