Five out of the past seven weeks I have been 60% or better with my Breaking Vegas picks. Coming into the season my goal was to be at 60% overall. After a slow start to the season, it has been a steady climb upwards. Six more weeks on my journey to break Vegas!
Thanksgiving has become one of the most crucial times of the year for teams. A lot of teams are entering Week Twelve with their eyes set on playoff contention, a few teams are trying to stay healthy for their inevitable playoff runs, and some teams are hoping and praying they can sell tickets despite the terrible product they continue to put on the field.
Having three games on Thursday is a treat for the fans but a headache for the teams. The logistics and turnaround to get ready to play on Thanksgiving is no fun for these teams in the middle of a season.
Thursday night football games this season have been a roller coast ride of filth. Let’s break it down from a bettor’s perspective.
The home team is 8-3.
The favored team is 8-3.
The home team against the spread is 7-3-1.
The average point spread has been over 12 points per game.
With the home team and the favored team in Thursday night football games having a winning percentage of .727, there are only 4 teams in the entire league with a better win percentage on the season (Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, and Seattle Seahawks).
This week while you are eating turkey and spending time with the family, follow to money and bet on Thanksgiving Day football. Follow the favorites and the home teams. Unless that home team is potentially missing their All-Pro quarterback.
Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions -3
A month ago it was a foregone conclusion that the Minnesota Vikings were going to be the NFC North champions.
Sitting here before Week twelve, that seems like a distant memory. This division is wide open and any one of three teams could come out on top at the end of the season.
Last week the Vikings beat the Cardinals by 6 points at home. At face value, that is a good win. Although, the fact is that the Viking had to rely on a 104 yard kickoff return touchdown and a 100 yard interception return touchdown. The Vikings only had 217 yards of total offense and 16 first downs. The Cardinals amassed more receiving and rushing yards than the Vikings. All said, it was a win, but not one to hang their hats on.
The Lions beat a hapless Jacksonville team at home just to keep pace with the Viking at the top of the division. The two teams each have 6-4 records. The Lions are on a 2-game win streak heading into Thanksgiving.
In Week Eleven the troubling stat for the Lions was that they only had 14 rushing yards. That’s not a typo at all, 14 yards! As a team they averaged 0.67 yards per carry. That is about 2 feet! 24 inches!
That has to change if this team wants to win the division. I still think that their passing attack is lethal enough to win most games and this is one of them. I like the Lions at home and in a very big game for their playoff hopes.
All-time records on Thanksgiving:
Detroit Lions – 36-38-2
Minnesota Vikings – 5-1
Lions 28 – Vikings 24
Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys -7
Washington wins this game if Kirk Cousins can throw the ball for 400+ yards. In Week 2 against the Cowboys, Cousins was 28-46 for 364 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. And it was a very costly late interception. The Cowboys secondary is missing two of their starters that were playing in the Week 2 matchup, including Barry Church who had the key interception.
Let’s be completely honest here, the Dallas Cowboys are the best team in the NFL. When these two teams last played, it was Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot’s second game in the NFL. Prescott was still trying to learn the offense, and Elliot had yet to run for 100 yards in a game. Fast forward to today, these two are in every conversation for Offensive Rookie of the Year, and even more fitting, NFL Most Valuable Player.
Cowboys win this game going away to show the defending NFC East champs that there is a new sheriff in town, and the rest of the league and division better take notice because this Cowboys team is constructed for sustained success.
All-time records on Thanksgiving:
Dallas Cowboys – 29-18-1
Washington Redskins – 2-6
Cowboys 37 – Redskins 28
Pittsburgh Steelers -3 @ Indianapolis Colts
The NFL is such a quarterback league that it is ludicrous to think that Scott Tolzien is going to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving. With Andrew Luck unlikely to play, the veteran Tolzien looks to start his first game of the season.
In his 6th season, Tolzien hasn’t thrown a pass since last season with the Green Bay Packers. It was a completion for 4-yards. In 2013 he went 55-90 for 717 yards, 1 touchdown and 5 interceptions. There is a reason that in 6 seasons he only has two starts, which was because Aaron Rodgers was injured.
Add Tolzien onto an offense that has had struggles all season with a terrible offensive line and a middling run game and the Colts don’t have a whole lot to be excited about.
The played the worst team in the league last week in the worst weather this season has seen. This week when they go to Indianapolis and play in the dome, look for this offense to be electric like it is meant to be. Steelers are a flat out better team, with a much better quarterback in this game.
All-time records on Thanksgiving:
Pittsburgh Steelers – 1-6
Indianapolis Colts – 2-0-1
Steelers 29 – Colts 13
Seattle Seahawks -6.5 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston is one of the most polarizing quarterbacks in the NFL. Coming out of Florida State as the number one pick in the draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hoped to be finding their franchise quarterback. A year and a half in and it looks like they have done just that. The second-year quarterback has thrown for 2680 yards to go along with 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The troubling part is those 10 interceptions, tied for 5th most in the league.
The Seahawks fly east to take on the Bucs and look to exploit that weakness of the Bucs, turnovers. Tampa Bay has 16 total turnovers on the season, the Seahawks have forced 13 turnovers this season but should have forced more as they have been unable to grab 7 fumbles that they have forced.
This is a bad time for the Bucs to catch the Seahawks. The Seahawks are peaking and looking to compete for home field advantage in the NFC playoffs.
Seahawks 31 – Bucs 21
Upset Special of the Week:
Green Bay Packers +3.5 @ Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are a decent team that has exceeded expectations so far this season.
The Packers are a decent team that has underachieved so far this season.
That all changes this week.
Philadelphia hosts this game super short-handed. There is a chance that they are without both Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. That would leave undrafted rookie Wendell Smallwood to go up against one of the best rush defenses in the league. That isn’t a lot of help for a rookie quarterback with an underwhelming receiver group.
On the other side of the ball, the Packers are one of the most talented and most disappointing teams in the league. It is only a matter of time that Aaron Rodgers is going to step up and have a complete, 60-minute game. This offense needs to roll for this team to be successful, especially with how beat up their secondary is on defense.
In Philadelphia, the Packers will do just enough to build some momentum leading into the homestretch.
Packers 28 – Eagles 26
*All betting lines provided by Bovada.LV on the Thursday preceding particular NFL week.