Thanksgiving Day best bets: Bills-Lions, Giants-Cowboys, Patriots-Vikings
The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys are annual hosts on Thanksgiving. This year, the Lions host the Buffalo Bills and the Cowboys entertain the New York Giants. Our random night game this season features the New England Patriots and the Minnesota Vikings. Strap in for a day of food, football and best bets from our VSiN analysts.
Throughout the season, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on every game. Check back for picks for the rest of Week 12 as we get closer to kickoff.
Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Wednesday night. Go to VSiN.com for Betting Splits and live odds.
Thursday, 12:30 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: The second game in the Motor City for the Bills may not feature as much smooth sailing as last week’s game against the Browns. Buffalo gave up a couple of garbage-time touchdowns to make the game look a lot closer, but the Bills never seemed threatened by the Browns after Buffalo scored the final 10 points of the first half. Cleveland has a good offense and a bad defense, which is an appropriate description of the Lions as well, but Detroit is at least playing well right now.
While the Packers, Bears and Giants aren’t in the same weight class as the Bills, the Lions played tough against the Seahawks, Vikings, Eagles and Dolphins in losses by four or fewer points before this current three-game win streak. After putting up 31 points in back-to-back road games in cold weather, the Lions come back home -- where they’ve scored 20 offensive touchdowns in five games. They’re also healthier now with D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown shaking off past injuries.
Last week’s set of circumstances for Buffalo led to a bit of an adrenaline rush after getting help from fans and neighbors to dig out of the Snowvember snow that will live forever in the city’s history. This week, it’s just a quick turnaround to be a big favorite back in the city they just played in. Furthermore, the Patriots are on deck and you know what those games mean to the Bills.
Buffalo is only 23rd in red zone touchdown percentage. In a game with a total on the rise and the expectation of points, why can’t the Lions hang around with a 10-point head start?
Pick: Lions +10
Thursday, 4:30 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: Ezekiel Elliott may be back in the lineup this week for the Cowboys, but that shouldn’t stop the usage of Tony Pollard. Pollard is certainly the better receiving option and his receiving yards line is only 18.5 for Thursday’s game. Though Pollard has only gone over this total in three of his 10 games, it sure seems that Kellen Moore and Dak Prescott have realized how much of a weapon he can be out of the backfield.
Pollard had six catches for 109 yards last week, but he also had six targets in Week 10, despite only racking up 13 yards. If he’s going to get 4+ targets in this game, he should have a good chance at getting 19 or more yards. The Giants have allowed over 10 yards per reception to running backs on 27 catches. That isn’t a high rate of catches, but Pollard shouldn’t need many receptions to go over this total.
Pick: Tony Pollard Over 18.5 Receiving Yards (-110)
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: The best defense in the NFL will be in action on Thursday night against a team that many feel is a prime regression candidate. The Patriots rank first in EPA/play, Success Rate against and, most importantly, have the best pass defense in the league by Dropback EPA and Dropback Success Rate. By the advanced metrics, the Vikings are a pretty pedestrian offense, but they are much better through the air than they are on the ground.
Containing Justin Jefferson is usually a team’s best hope, but the Cowboys were able to effectively eliminate him from the game with just three catches for 33 yards, as they harassed Kirk Cousins all game long and racked up seven sacks. The Patriots are second in the NFL with 36 sacks, trailing only the Cowboys. The injury to LT Christian Darrisaw is a big deal in this game for Minnesota.
As great as New England’s defense is, however, the offense is almost that bad. The Patriots are 25th in EPA/play and Dropback EPA, and just 24th in Rushing Success Rate. In past seasons, this has been a really strong rushing team, but that isn’t the case this season. The Vikings are eighth in Rush EPA against, so that is the better part of their defense. Unless Mac Jones is going to suddenly have a big game, the Patriots offense is likely to struggle again.
Points and explosive plays look few and far between for this one, which may be good if you’re napping through a food coma.
Pick: Under 42.5