This week we gather together with our families, eating with glutton and lounging on the couch as we fall into a tryptophan-induced food coma. There is no better holiday on the planet.
But if you’re looking to stay awake through the day on Thursday, allow me to suggest putting down some money on the football games! The three games on Thursday might not be the prettiest on paper but do offer bettors some good opportunities.
Below are our best bets for Thanksgiving day, with picks against the spread as well as a few props for each game to keep things interesting. Let’s see if we can make a few bucks before starting our Black Friday shopping.
Detroit Lions* (+3) over Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are set to start Chase Daniel in Thursday’s early game, as Mitch Trubisky is currently listed as doubtful while dealing with a shoulder bruise.
With the Bears having played Sunday night, they were already dealing with about as short a week as possible to prepare for an NFL game – not exactly the perfect situation for adding a new quarterback.
The Lions have been wildly inconsistent so far this season, but they have played well on their Thanksgiving games over the past few years and should be able to do enough to beat a Bears team running on fumes.
Bears @ Lions: No score in first 6:30 of the game (-130)
One of these teams is starting a backup quarterback and the other is facing the Bears defence. It doesn’t feel like either team is jumping out of the gate to a quick touchdown.
Bears @ Lions: Kenny Golladay (+650) and Anthony Miller (+1100) to score first touchdown
Betting the first touchdown is always a crapshoot, but for me, it’s a Thanksgiving tradition. Pick at least one player on both teams to ensure you don’t get burnt on a payday because you lost the coin toss, and then sit and hope.
For this game, I like Anthony Miller and Kenny Golladay, as both players stand out as sizable red zone targets.
Washington Redskins (+7) over Dallas Cowboys*
While the Bears are scrambling to prepare their backup quarterback, the Redskins seem ready to go with Colt McCoy, who took over for Alex Smith after a gruesome leg injury sent him off the field in a cart.
McCoy is a backup for a reason, but he’s won before when called upon and even won before in Dallas, leading the Redskins to a 20-17 victory over the Cowboys in 2014 while completing 25 of 30 passes.
Washington might not have enough to win on Thursday, but McCoy looked fine when he entered the game on Sunday and should be able to keep the game close enough to cover.
Redskins @ Cowboys: Over 41
This is a play on the number more than anything. Neither of these offenses are overly impressive to me, but in a year where teams seem to be putting up huge totals every week, getting to 41 between two teams feels like a good bet.
Redskins @ Cowboys: Amari Cooper (+900) and Jordan Reed (+1000) to score first touchdown
Amari Cooper is a threat to score anywhere on the field and had always been a fun pick for the first touchdown during his time with the Raiders.
Jordan Reed clearly had a rapport with McCoy on the field on Sunday, with McCoy tossing him a touchdown to spark a comeback that came up just short against the Texans. McCoy and Reed have both been with Washington for extended stints – if they can get in sync early they could cause the Cowboys problems all day.
Atlanta Falcons (+13) over New Orleans Saints*
The Saints thrashed the Eagles on Sunday and looked like the most dominant team in football, but giving 13 points to a division rival is wild.
When these teams played earlier in the season, the Saints gave up 37 points to the Falcons and needed a late touchdown to force overtime. The New Orleans defence has improved since then, but Atlanta has too many weapons to be counted as this long of underdogs.
Falcons @ Saints: Over 60.5
I’m going to take the hint from Monday night’s barn-burner between the Rams and Chiefs – if two high-scoring teams are meeting in primetime, they will keep scoring.
Falcons @ Saints: Longest TD Under 55.5 yards
This is a dangerous bet as the Falcons and Saints have more deep threats between them than any other team in the league aside from the Chiefs.
But when I’ve seen this prop in other games, it’s usually listed in the high 30s or low 40s – 56 yards is a tougher feat to accomplish.
There’s not a ton of plays occur through the course of a game where a 56-yard touchdown is possible – as soon as a team moves onto the midfield logo, you’re safe. Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, Alvin Kamara and Calvin Ridley are all threats to blow this bet at any time, but let’s just hope they keep their big plays to 55 yards or less.