A betting preview on all three NFL games on Turkey Day

Thanksgiving will have a lot of sports action.

The World Cup has four more matches. There are, oddly enough, two separate college basketball events named after Phil Knight that feature seven ranked teams in action on Thursday. The Egg Bowl between Mississippi State and Mississippi also happens.

But we all know that the NFL takes center stage on Thanksgiving. Here’s a betting preview and picks for each of Thursday’s three NFL games:

A few weeks ago, this game seemed like an absolutely miserable way to spend the early part of Thanksgiving. Then the Detroit Lions showed some signs of life and the Buffalo Bills looked a little vulnerable.

Detroit has won three in a row and the Bills have lost two of three. Buffalo cracked its losing steak last week in Detroit, beating the Cleveland Browns after a snowstorm moved their home game to Michigan. At least there’s some hope of getting competitive play.

The key to the Lions turnaround was better defense play. They shut down the Green Bay Packers to start the streak. They took Saquon Barkley completely out of contention in last week’s win over the New York Giants. For a defense that was clearly the worst in the NFL for most of September and October, it was a surprising turnaround.

Josh Allen leads the Buffalo Bills in a Thanksgiving game against the Lions. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

The Bills could sweep the Lions. That’s why the line hovers close to double digits. But that’s a lot of points for a road favorite, and the Bills may be a little tired after last week’s order and the short week before another game in Detroit. They also threw the ball a lot more against the Browns, and if that continues it might help keep the game a little closer.

The Lions were swept a lot during Thanksgiving and if the team that started 1-6 shows up, you can go out early enough. But Detroit has been better lately. Maybe we will have a close match.

Cowboys (-9.5) on the Giants

The Dallas Cowboys are good. People have resisted admitting it, perhaps because Dallas hasn’t had a great offseason or they’re still dwelling on a bad week 1 loss. Or why people hate the Cowboys. But Dallas is one of the best teams in the NFL. Hard stop.

On paper, a matchup between the 7-3 Giants and 7-3 Cowboys should be great. By now, anyone who has followed the Giants’ season knows that these two 7-3 teams are not the same. The Giants have built a strong record on some close wins and a fairly soft schedule. Even logical Giants fans would have to admit they passed the skis at 7-2. A home loss to the Lions last week didn’t unmask the Giants; everyone pretty much knew what they were before then. And losing rookie receiver Wan’Dale Robinson to a knee injury makes them even leaner on offense.

The Giants can’t afford to fall behind. If they do, the Cowboys can get on their awesome pass rush and things will get ugly. Ask the Minnesota Vikings how it works. The Giants are well coached and will likely go to the playoffs, but I think this game might just slip by them.

Vikings (-2.5) on Patriots

It’s never a bad idea to pick a good team after an embarrassing defeat.

The Vikings must be embarrassed after losing 40-3 to the Cowboys. Like the Giants losing to the Lions, it didn’t really unmask the Vikings. Most rational NFL observers knew the Vikings weren’t a Super Bowl contender even at 8-1. It’s a good team. It’s not a great team. It shouldn’t come as a surprise.

On the other side, the New England Patriots are lucky to get an 84-yard punt return touchdown in the final seconds to beat the New York Jets or we’d be talking about their offense. They had 297 yards and 13 first downs last week. The Jets’ offense wasn’t much worse than the Pats’ in the same game, so we overlooked the Patriots. New England’s defense is very good. Not the crime.

There is an argument for the Patriots to make, which is why the spread is just a field goal. They play great defense and Bill Belichick will have a great plan to upset Kirk Cousins. The Patriots offense will be better when it doesn’t face the Jets, who have a much better defense than the Vikings. But I will ride with the Vikings. They may not be an elite team, but they are nowhere near as bad as what we saw against Dallas.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: