Thanksgiving football is just great, isn’t it? It is a perfect marriage and no other sport can brag to have such a nice, symbiotic relationship with a holiday.
The NFL has played games on Thanksgiving for 100 years. It’s a special Thursday, as we don’t get only the Thursday Night Football action, but a full-day slate of 3 games.
Can it get better? Yes, it can! The three games are also on national television.
This means the games get absurdly high TV ratings. But that’s not the only good thing. Lots of wagering markets are available to improve your holiday. Of course, Thanksgiving games are some of the most wagered games in the year.
This article serves as a betting guide regarding Thanksgiving football odds.
As a heads up, this year’s Thanksgiving games are scheduled for Thursday, November 25th.
Kicking off Thanksgiving football, it’s an NFC North showdown between the Chicago Bears (-3.5) and the Detroit Lions (+4).
Even though the Lions are in full rebuild mode, this division always brings tough, rough matchups. As for the Bears, they are a playoff contender. And, who knows? By this week, rookie QB Justin Fields might be the QB1 of the team.
Chicago is a much more solid team than Detroit. They have a top-tier defense in the National Football League. Plus, they have a better offense as well, especially if Fields is under center. It becomes a much more dynamic unit with the Ohio State alumni.
Detroit is one of the worst teams in the league, but they will certainly play with bad blood. They don’t have the talent or the coach to compete by those means, so making it a dirty game is their best shot.
The opening line has the Bears as road favorites by -3.5 points. If logic is to follow, the line will be much bigger as the game in Week 12 approaches, and the Lions’ record is dreadful.
Meanwhile, the Bears should be in the mid-postseason race. Hence, they will need a win to maintain their postseason status.
The opening line has the Cowboys as a big favorite, projected to win by five or more points. Both teams are desperate to better their last season’s output, so this should be an entertaining game to watch.
Plus, both have explosive offensive players and many defensive holes. It has a shootout written all over it.
The Cowboys have QB Dak Prescott back after a season-ending injury. This should boost their offense since they have a magnitude of good receivers. CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup are top talents and make this one of the deepest receiving corps in the league.
Also, it’s expected that RB Ezekiel Elliott will rebound from his 2020 below-par season. Dallas should be nearly unstoppable when attacking.
The Raiders reinforced their secondary, but the holes are still there to exploit. They have a great tandem in the backfield with RBs Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake poised to make damage. Also, QB Derek Carr has lethal receivers like Henry Ruggs III and John Brown, as well as slot WR Hunter Renfrow.
The X Factor is TE Darren Waller, who had a breakthrough season in 2020. The fact that they disposed of most of their O-Line is suspicious, but Dallas had lots of defensive problems last year. If they carry on into 2021, Las Vegas should be a threat.
Closing Thanksgiving with a bang, the Buffalo Bills visit the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Hosting the matchup are Drew Brees-less Saints, who want to prove they are still a playoff team.
The Bills are as good as a football team gets. They have a great HC in Sean McDermott, a solid roster, and a cemented team. Josh Allen is a top-tier QB. The wideouts are as good as they come, with a stellar Stefon Diggs leading in rec. yards in 2020.
Their defense can be rock solid, and quite simply, Buffalo is a Super Bowl contender. The Bills aim to make each primetime game a showcase of their talent.
This can’t be said for the Saints, who, without Drew Brees, they face an unknown scenario—QB uncertainty. By this week, we will know whether it’s Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill, the one under center for New Orleans. Nonetheless, none of those two are talents that command respect.
The rest of the Saints’ roster is still talented. They possess the best dual-threat weapon in the league in RB Alvin Kamara and a solid defense. Their wideouts are very thin, and injuries to their main man Michael Thomas are concerning. New Orleans needs to prove themselves in a tough, tough season for them.
The early line is a very conservative -4 to Buffalo that could grow if the Saints’ season is not going well.
To this day, Thanksgiving broadcast rights belong to CBS, FOX, and NBC. They televise the games. The Lions always host the first game of the slate, and it kicks off at 12:30 pm ET.
The Cowboys are in charge of hosting the second game of the day at 4:30 pm ET. Since the 2012 season, CBS and FOX switch the broadcasts of the early and middle games on a yearly basis. CBS gets the opening Thanksgiving game in the even-numbered years, while FOX does it in the odd-numbered years.
By this norm, this year’s game between Lions and Bears is broadcasted by FOX. Then, CBS will televise the Raiders vs. Cowboys matchup.
Other streaming services are authorized to air the game, like Amazon Prime, the NFL Network, FOX Sports GO, Twitch, PlayStation Vue, Hulu, Sling, and YouTube TV. Of course, subscriptions to these streaming services are needed to watch the games.
Many of the things that apply to Thursday Night Football betting also come in handy when betting on Thanksgiving football.
After all, the teams playing in it face a shortened week. The fact that they’ve played in Week 12 of the season often makes the physical toll on the players heavier.
All six teams playing on Thanksgiving will have played their Week 11 game on Sunday. As it’s the norm, all Thanksgiving road teams will play at home the week prior. This is to help those teams to limit the short week to just one travel.
The Bears will take on the Baltimore Ravens. The Bills will host the Indianapolis Colts. The Raiders will entertain the Cincinnati Bengals.
Thanksgiving games also offer the home sides a particular home-field advantage. The holiday games are an old tradition in Detroit and Dallas, where Turkey Day is a sell-out each season.
The home-field advantage carries the most weight when the hosts have a healthy, top-notch team on the field. Unfortunately, being at a late week in the season, injuries often limit the rosters.
Needless to say, this is a factor to consider before placing your bets. Key players being out can make or break a bet and destroy the strongest home-field edges. This increases when talking about short week games.
– The Lions are as inept as a franchise can be. Still, they have a 37-42-2 outright record in Thanksgiving games. This includes a 4-8 record since the 2009 season.
– In contrast, the Cowboys, who have usually been way better than Detroit in the last decades, have a positive 31-21-1 balance on Turkey Day. However, since the 2009 season, their performances have amassed a poor 5-7 record.
– Point spreads tell a different story. The Lions actually are better bets ATS than the Cowboys on Thanksgiving day over the last decade. While Detroit is 6-6 ATS in the last 12 games on Turkey Day, Dallas has a dreadful 2-10 ATS record on the holiday.
– Favored teams usually have solid performances on Thanksgiving when betting against the spread. It doesn’t matter if they are the home or road team, since 2009, favorites are 21-14.
The first official NFL games hosted on Turkey Day date back to 1920. However, in terms of current teams that play on this day, the Detroit Lions have hosted a Thanksgiving Day game since the 1934 season.
The Cowboys joined the tradition in 1966. Except for the 1975 and 1977 seasons, they’ve always hosted a game on Thursday.
A third game, usually between divisional rivals, was added to the slate as a primetime game in 2006. It was a Broncos vs. Chiefs affair at Arrowhead Stadium. This year won’t be a divisional game, but one with two postseason hopefuls.
Only one team has never played in a Thanksgiving game. The infamous Jacksonville Jaguars haven’t had the honor of doing so.