Thanksgiving Day best bets: Are there any 'dogs worth backing?
It's admittedly not the best Thanksgiving slate, but we won't tolerate any slander as Thursday kicks off one of the best four-day stretches on the sporting calendar.
Here's how we're betting Thursday's NFL action:
C Jackson Cowart: Bears/Lions under 41.5
The worst game on Thursday's slate is the one I'm most excited to bet on, as I don't see either team cracking 20 points on a short week.
The Lions haven't scored that many points in a game since Week 1, going nine weeks below that mark amid a 7-2 run to the under. Lousy quarterback play is partly to blame - Jared Goff's injury doesn't help - but Detroit's defense has held its last two opponents to 29 combined points and allowed just two of its last eight opponents to score 30 points.
The Bears are also among the lowest-scoring teams in the NFL behind rookie Justin Fields and veteran Andy Dalton, who will make his third start of the season on short rest. These teams went under this exact total when they met in Week 4 and should do the same in Thursday's rematch.
Alex Moretto: Lions +3 (-110)
I couldn't imagine being excited about Goff a couple of weeks ago, but that's what happens when your backup is Tim Boyle. Say what you want about Goff, but he's an upgrade under center for a Lions team that will run the ball down the throat of a banged-up Bears defense, anyway.
Detroit continues to play hard, stay competitive, and stick to the basics. That means a monstrous workload for D'Andre Swift. The sophomore has been electrifying and significantly ups the watchability of an otherwise ugly game. He's come a long way since getting just eight carries in the first meeting between these teams.
There's a lot to like about Detroit's competitiveness under Dan Campbell, while Matt Nagy deserves nothing more than burnt mashed potatoes for his Thanksgiving meal. The fact he's still Chicago's head coach is truly stunning, and I'll happily fade him with Dalton starting and Allen Robinson still out. The Lions have improved defensively over the last two weeks, and while their competition wasn't great, neither are the Bears.
That said, I'll stick with the points rather than take the Lions on the moneyline because they're too creative in finding ways to lose tight contests; they've lost three games by three points or fewer and have a tie on their resume.
Bonus: Saints +7 (will only play +7 or better)
I know what you're thinking: This guy is full of it, listing the Saints at +7 when the line hasn't touched that number all week. You're not wrong, but hear me out. The Saints' injury report is concerning, and I believe that when all is said and done, the Bills will be favored by a touchdown at some point between this article's publication and kickoff.
It doesn't matter who this Saints offense is missing; Buffalo hasn't shown anything to suggest it should be laying a touchdown on the road against any teams besides basement-dwellers. According to EPA per play, the Bills have had the league's easiest offensive and defensive schedules this season - yet they're a middling team in terms of efficiency.
Josh Allen has produced a concerningly high total of turnover-worthy plays this season, and he's under too much pressure due to a leaky offensive line and nonexistent running game. Regardless of who plays for the Saints, I'll grab +7 if I can get it as New Orleans' defense and Sean Payton's offensive scheming will be enough to keep this a one-possession game.
Matt Russell: Lions ML (+130)
Oh, great. The Lions are my best bet. How's that for starting the holiday off with a bang? Simply put, my numbers have this game lined under a field goal, and I'm always up for a good price on a home underdog - even if it is Detroit.
With Jamaal Williams back to augment Swift, look for Campbell to bludgeon the Bears' defense. While rumors abound about Nagy's future, what reason does Chicago have to show up for this game? Fundamentally, the best unit on the field will be the Lions' offensive line, so look for it to push through the Bears and take the pressure off whoever starts at quarterback for Detroit.
- Report: Brown to miss at least 2 more games with ankle injury
- Lamar laments 4-INT performance: 'I looked like a rookie'
- Report: Cooper expected to return for TNF vs. Saints
- NFL Power Rankings - Week 13: Every team's biggest offseason regret
- GM says Browns won't sit Mayfield: 'He's healthy enough to win games'