Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have a fantastic holiday filled with delicious food, family and, of course, winning football bets. I would also like to take a quick moment to thank the loyal VSiN members and Market Insights readers. I have been writing this column every day since Aug. 15. (I'm trying to break Cal Ripken's ironman streak.) I hope this column has given you a head start on the market and helped you to become a more informed bettor. Thank you for reading!
Now back to betting . . .
One big trend to keep in mind today between servings of turkey and pumpkin pie: Thanksgiving Day NFL favorites.
Since 2003, favorites have gone an absurd 30-11 ATS (73.2%) on Thanksgiving Day according to Bet Labs Sports. They have even covered the last seven in a row. The most incredible part is that these games haven't even been that close. Turkey Day favorites have a cover margin of 6.06 points, meaning if a team is -6 they are typically winning by 12 points.
This edge to favorites lines up similarly with how favorites perform in regular Thursday Night Football. Since 2003, Thursday Night favorites have gone 111-80 ATS (58%).
One reason Thursday favorites perform so well is the short week. With only four days between games, this quick turnaround provides a big edge to the "better" team with the superior players and smarter coaching staffs. Add in the holiday element where both teams have family commitments after the game (and the dogs just want to get the game over with) and the favorite edge is amplified even more. Interestingly, there has been no edge to Thanksgiving Day totals, as unders are just 21-20 (51.2%).
For an updated betting breakdown of Thursday's Thanksgiving action, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted earlier than usual, around noon ET.
Until then, let's examine where smart money is falling for all three Thanksgiving Day games.
12:30 p.m. ET: Chicago Bears (5-6) at Detroit Lions (3-7-1)
The Bears opened as 1.5-point dogs, but have skyrocketed to 5-point or 5.5-point favorites. What caused this massive line move? Both pros and Joes are united on the Bears (more than 75% of bets), but also there has been a big quarterback change for the Lions. Detroit will start undrafted rookie David Blough, who will make his 1st career start. (Both Matthew Stafford and Jeff Driskel are injured.) The Lions would have value as a divisional dog with a huge inflated line in a low total, heavily bet holiday game. Sharps have also gotten down on the under. The total opened at 38.5 and has fallen to 37. Divisional unders are 30-25 (55%) this season. Late season divisional unders (Week 11 and on) are 56% since 2003. The under is 8-3 in Bears games but the over is 7-4 in Lions games. Jerome Boger, the head official, favors home teams (55.1% ATS) and overs (57.6%). Three weeks ago the Bears beat the Lions 20-13 in Chicago as 6.5-point favorites.
4:30 p.m. ET: Buffalo Bills (8-3) at Dallas Cowboys (6-5)
This line opened with Dallas listed as a 7-point home favorite. The public can't believe the Bills are the "better" team and getting points. With two-thirds of bets backing Buffalo, this line has dipped slightly down to 6.5. The Cowboys have value as a rare "fade the trendy dog" contrarian favorite with a deflated line off of the key number of 7. The Bills have value as a road dog (66-43 ATS, 61% this season). The total opened at 45. A majority of bets are taking the under, yet the total has risen to 47, signaling a sharp contrarian over play. The under is 8-3 in Bills games but the over is 7-4 in Cowboys games. Bill Vinonich is the lead ref, favoring road teams (54.3% ATS) and the under (57.5%).
8:20 p.m. ET: New Orleans Saints (9-2) at Atlanta Falcons (3-8)
This line opened with New Orleans listed as a 6.5-point road favorite. Three-out-of-four bets are laying the points with the Saints. This line has bounced back and forth between -6.5 and -7. We saw some buyback on the Falcons at the books that touched the key number of 7. Atlanta has value as a divisional dog (29-24 ATS, 55% this season). The Falcons beat the Saints 26-9 three weeks ago in New Orleans as 14-point dogs. Despite three-out-of-four bets taking the over, the total has fallen from 50 to 49, which signals smart money on the under. Late season divisional unders Week 11 and on are 56% since 2003. The under is 24-13 (65%) in primetime games this season. The over is 6-5 in Saints games but the under is 7-4 in Falcons games.