Thanksgiving is one of the best days of the entire year. It’s a day defined by family, food, and of course, football. Thanksgiving football is a tradition like no other. It’s really the only time all year you are okay with watching a Detroit Lions game (sorry Lions fans).
Where there is football, there is action for gambling folk like myself. The games this year are not exactly the most exciting, so having a little action on the games should make the holiday event far more enticing.
Not sure what to take? No need to fear, the Greek Freak is here. Although this is my first gambling article here on the site, I should let you know that my career NFL betting record is 269-273-9. You can follow me on Action Network to track all my action, @GreekFreak98. I tend to know a thing or two about a thing or two when it comes to betting on NFL games.
Without further delay, here are my best bets for the 2021 Thanksgiving football slate.
BEARS AT LIONS (12:30 PM EST)
Spread: Bears -2.5
Moneyline: Bears -135
Analysis: This game… sheesh. I know the Lions playing on Thanksgiving is tradition, but this is getting ridiculous. The Lions are just frankly not fun to watch. To make matters worse, UConn legend Tim Boyle still has an outside chance to start if former #1 pick Jared Goff has a setback overnight. As if the Lions weren’t bad enough.
This isn’t just a “crap on the Lions segment”, because the Bears are not much better. Rookie QB Justin Fields is out, leaving the Red Rifle himself, Andy Dalton, at the helm. A Thanksgiving treat for the ages: Andy Dalton vs Tim Boyle. What a showdown.
This is a game that really means nothing. The stakes are relatively low, beyond Detroit still fighting for their first win of the year. The Lions are 0-9-1, while the Bears are 3-7. Both of these teams have no shot at the playoffs, and are some of the worst teams this league has to offer.
So, what exactly to take here gambling wise? I know a lot of people want to see the Lions win their first game, and the Bears are as good a team to get it against. However, that game isn’t this one.
In what will apparently be Matt Nagy’s final game as the Bears’ head coach, I expect Chicago to win and cover. Since 2005, the Lions are 2-10 ATS when they are an underdog in the big game. Hard to argue with that stat. I also like the Andy Dalton prop of over 1.5 TD passes. For +125 odds, against this Lions defense, I’ll take that to the bank.
UPDATE: As I was ready to publish the article, I received the alert that Lions QB Jared Goff is expected to start and play with an oblique injury. My action remains the same, as I still believe the Red Rifle can outduel a banged up Jared Goff.
Picks: Bears -2.5, Andy Dalton O1.5 TD Passes
RAIDERS AT COWBOYS (4:30 PM EST)
Spread: Cowboys -7.5
Moneyline: Cowboys -320
Analysis: If not for injuries, COVID-19, and scandal, this would probably be the best game of the day. Unfortunately, both of these teams are shorthanded, which will make the game not as exciting. Nevertheless, there’s something about Cowboys vs Raiders that is just cool.
Believe it or not, I like the Raiders here. Call me crazy, I know. But 7.5 points is a lot, especially when Dak Prescott is playing without WRs CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper. We saw how Dallas’ offense struggled without them against the Chiefs. Even if the Raiders defense doesn’t have a Chris Jones to stifle the Cowboys, they do have Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue to bring pressure.
Dallas is going to keep the ball heavily on the ground, so expect lots of action for RBs Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard. I’m so confident on this, that I believe Zeke anytime touchdown scorer is a good play here. He’s going to get a lot of looks, and I expect him to punch one in at some point.
The Raiders are a team on a downward spiral, but they still have some nice players on both sides of the ball. Not enough to win this game, but enough to stay competitive I think. I believe Dallas will win this game, but -320 ML isn’t exactly the best bang for your buck. Take Raiders +7.5, and hope for Derek Carr to keep this game close.
I’m also going to add the under 51.5 to my card. Cowboys vs Raiders is just a game I want to have a number of bets going. Both of these offenses should struggle missing key pieces on both sides, so expect a tight, low scoring affair in Dallas.
Picks: Raiders +7.5, Ezekiel Elliot Anytime Touchdown -185, Under 51.5
BILLS AT SAINTS (8:20 PM EST)
Spread: Bills -6.5
Moneyline: Bills -250
Analysis: Here it is folks, the nightcap. This game is by default the most interesting game I guess? It’s definitely a toss up between this one and the 4:30 game. Both of these teams are coming off embarrassing losses, where two elite defenses each gave up 40+ points. Ouch.
For the Saints, their season is practically over in my eyes. They are still just 5-5 and have a shot at the postseason. However, it’s Trevor Siemian leading the charge at quarterback. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. The Saints also have their fair share of injuries beyond the QB position. Their offensive line is in shambles. Michael Thomas is not playing this year. Alvin Kamara has been missing time. Siemian really just has very little to work with here. The defense is what has kept them alive for the most part.
As for the Bills, this season has been confusing. They have an incredible defense. Arguably the best in the league. They have Josh Allen, who was supposed to be an MVP candidate this year. The list goes on and on, yet they’ve been sort of… dissapoining. Their 6-4 record isn’t necessarily awful. But considering the hype surrounding this team coming into the season, it’s a letdown for sure.
Both of these teams will try to bounce back from those tough losses, but the Bills obviously have more to lose here. They still would like to be in a position to contend for a trip to the Super Bowl.
I expect the Bills to win this one, but I do not think it will be pretty. The Saints defense will make life difficult for Josh Allen and Co. The Bills defense will also make life difficult for Trevor Siemian and Co. Naturally, I like the under here. This is a game that just doesn’t scream points. This will be a 20-14 type slugfest, in my opinion. I want to take Bills -6.5, but I just can’t. I’m also going to be taking the Saints team total under at 19.5, which is my lock of the day. I just can’t see this banged up Saints offense putting 3 touchdowns on Buffalo.
This one’s tricky, but I also like Josh Allen to throw an interception. The Saints defense is good, and until I see otherwise, Josh Allen hasn’t exactly been looking the sharpest of late.
Picks: Under 45.0, Saints TT U19.5 (LOCK), Josh Allen O0.5 INTs Thrown
Photo: (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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