Thanksgiving Day NFL betting guide: Best bets for all three games

By VSiN Staff  (VSiN.com) 

November 25, 2021 08:14 AM
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Thanksgiving Day features a trio of interesting NFL games, including a night showdown between playoff hopefuls in the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints.

Our team of experts at VSiN has each game covered from all angles, with a market report from South Point oddsmaker Chris Andrews, along picks from VSiN's Adam Burke, Dave Tuley and Matt Youmans and Ben Brown from Pro Football Focus.

Chicago Bears (-3, 41.5) at Detroit Lions

Market Report from Chris Andrews: I opened Chicago -3.5 and sharps took the hook. Then it was reported that Jared Goff would likely return to play quarterback for the Lions. I’m down to Chicago -3, but I see the line dropping elsewhere. The Lions will probably continue to get bet and I’ve taken some moneyline bets on Detroit too. Sharps took the Lions at + 155 and + 145. I’m currently at Chicago -155/Detroit + 135. My total of 41.5 is getting good two-way action. Thanksgiving Day Over/Unders usually draw a lot of play because the public wants to root for a side and total in all the TV games. 

Burke: These teams are both a mess. There are injury concerns at the quarterback position on each side and it also looks as though Matt Nagy could be fired after this game. First-year Lions head coach Dan Campbell isn’t setting the world on fire with a 0-9-1 record and a hideous decision to kick a field goal on fourth-and-1 at the Cleveland 25-yard line in the fourth quarter of last week’s game (not to mention punting on fourth-and-9) with 2:36 left.

When the side and total look like bets that you don’t want to touch, the player prop bet market is always there for your consideration. One bright spot last week for the Lions was D’Andre Swift, who had 136 yards on just 14 carries against the Browns defense. Given that Tim Boyle was the QB, and the Browns should have been better prepared for the run, Swift’s stat line was extremely impressive.

His rushing yards prop is lined at 66.5 yards here. Whether Boyle gets another start or Jared Goff comes back at less than 100 percent, Swift should get ample touches in the run game against the Bears. Chicago ranks in the middle of the pack in yards per carry allowed and ranks 22nd in rush defense DVOA per Football Outsiders.

It doesn’t look like Bears DL Akiem Hicks will be ready to go, so that helps. In watching last week’s game, I came away impressed with the Lions offensive line, as the young group, including Penei Sewell, is starting to come together well. Swift should not only get enough volume to go over this prop, but he could also break a few big runs.

Pick: D’Andre Swift Over 66.5 Rushing Yards

Las Vegas Raiders at Dallas Cowboys (-7.5, 51.5)

Market Report from Chris Andrews: Dallas opened -7 and a sharp laid the TD, so I went directly to -8. At the new price, I’m still getting some play on the favorite, but more on the underdog. I’ll probably drop back to 7.5 sometime before kickoff. There was money-line interest on the Raiders at + 300. I’ve dropped to Dallas -350/Las Vegas + 290. Dallas isn’t yet showing up in six-point teasers and money-line parlays to win straight up, though I expect that to happen between now and kickoff. Good two-way play on this total too, just like in Bears/Lions. I’m still at my opener of 51.

Burke: The emotional gas tank seems to have hit “E” for the Raiders, as they’ve dropped three in a row and haven’t looked good in the process. What really seems to be missing here for Las Vegas is departed head coach Jon Gruden. Gruden’s firing/resignation came around the time when the offense was struggling a bit, but not like it is now.

The Raiders have managed just 43 points over the last three games, and their red zone efficiency has been putrid, scoring a touchdown on just three of their last 11 trips inside the opponents’ 20. The yards per play metrics have been fine, but the last two games have featured some garbage-time offense and the loss against the Giants was directly attributable to going 1-of-6 in the red zone.

Offensive play callers make their money with what they do in the scoring areas and the Raiders simply don’t have anybody worth a dime right now in that regard.

The defense continues to play extremely hard and may get a respite this week with Amari Cooper out because of COVID and CeeDee Lamb questionable due to a concussion. Still, the Cowboys should be able to win this game, maybe not by the margin of the full spread.

Dallas fits perfectly into a Wong Teaser, crossing through the 3 and 7 as either a 7.5 or 8-point favorite. The Raiders have not played a road Thursday game since 2018 and have not played on Thanksgiving since 2013. The last thing a reeling team needs is a short week to go up against a very potent offense.

If the Cowboys were healthier at the wide receiver position, I’d even consider the 7.5 here. For now, Dallas is a great teaser complement with a few possibilities, but I’m pairing the Cowboys with the Broncos + 8.5, once again crossing the 3 and 7 in that game.

Pick: Dallas -1.5 in six-point teaser with Broncos + 8.5

Tuley: Will the real Raiders please stand up? And the real Cowboys, for that matter? These teams have looked like Super Bowl contenders one week and trash the next (of course, that can be said of nearly every team in the league). The Raiders are on a longer, extended slump with losses of 23-16 to the Giants, 41-14 to the Chiefs and 32-13 to the Bengals, but they still have enough weapons to keep up with the Cowboys, who are thin at wide receiver and have more injuries on the defensive side of the ball. 

This line was looking solid at Cowboys -7 on the advance line and earlier this week, but it was steamed Tuesday to Cowboys -8 (though it has since settled at 7.5). If you can find a stray + 8, grab it, but the hook should be good enough in case the Cowboys do win by exactly 7.

Pick: Raiders + 7.5

Brown: Prescott has sandwiched poor performances in between one quality showing in his three games since returning from a calf injury. Some prognosticators believe that the injury could be limiting Prescott’s output, but the issue could be more related to other injuries that continue to stack up on the Cowboys offense. Prescott didn't have his top two receiving weapons for the majority of the game against the Chiefs and will be without Cooper on Thanksgiving, while Lamb heads toward a game-time decision. Fortunately for Prescott, Tyron Smith is expected to return, as he was a full participant in early-week practice after missing the last couple of games.

Week 11’s matchup against the Chiefs was the first time Prescott didn’t record a rushing attempt or scramble since Week 2. Outside of those two games, Prescott has gone over his rushing yardage prop in four of seven contests this season. Against a Raiders front seven that generates pressure at the third-highest rate in the NFL, expect Prescott to scramble a couple times if his secondary receivers struggle to separate downfield. Because of the expected injury situation, seeing an uptick in this area should be all Prescott needs to easily eclipse his rushing yardage prop once again.

Pick: Dak Prescott Over 9.5 Rushing Yards (-120)

Buffalo Bills (-6.5, 45.5) at New Orleans Saints

Market Report from Chris Andrews: Big move here. I opened Buffalo -4 and sharps laid -4, -4.5, -5, -5.5 and -6, so I went all the way to -6.5 before different sharps bought back on the underdog. I’m back to Buffalo -6 and writing fairly even action at that price. I’m not yet seeing teaser or money-line parlay interest on the Bills. That’s likely to happen between now and kickoff given public tendencies. They’ll want to root for favorites any way they can, particularly those in the playoff chase. I’m guessing a Dallas/Buffalo combo will be a popular public teaser Thursday. I did take a sharp bet on New Orleans at + 220 on the money line. I’m down from Buffalo -260/New Orleans + 220 to -240/+ 200. My opening total of 47 was bet down to 46.5, and then 46. It’s obviously not a weather issue at the Superdome. I see it dropping lower in other spots. I’ll have to take more bets before going below 46.

Youmans: The surge of support for the favorite is somewhat surprising. Buffalo lost to the Jaguars, Steelers and Titans before getting blown out at home by the Colts. The Bills’ impressive defensive numbers are deceiving, as I pointed out last week, because they have faced seven below-average offenses in 10 games. Josh Allen has thrown five interceptions with four touchdown passes in the past three games. Five of Allen’s wins were against the Dolphins (twice), Jets, Texans and Washington. Was a win at Kansas City in Week 5 enough to make Buffalo the Super Bowl favorite at most sportsbooks last week? I don’t see what the betting public sees in the Bills.

If bettors are eager to fade the Saints, I could see that. With his team riding a three-game losing streak, head coach Sean Payton is busy throwing insane amounts of money at Taysom Hill, who’s not even his starting quarterback. Alvin Kamara is still out with a knee injury, but he wouldn’t do what the Colts’ Jonathan Taylor, who rushed for 185 yards and four touchdowns, did to the Bills anyway. Maybe bettors also want to fade Saints quarterback Trevor Siemian, but Siemian (eight touchdown passes, two interceptions) has played reasonably well.

The Bills have the Patriots on deck. The Saints can forget about the playoffs if they fail to win games like this. It’s Thanksgiving night on Bourbon Street, so I’ll take a shot getting the points with the desperate home dog.

Pick: Saints + 6.5

Tuley: Has any team’s stock fallen more in the past couple of weeks than Buffalo’s? The 9-6 loss to the Jaguars was bad enough, but then they had a chance to step up against the Colts and got run over 41-15. It looks like bettors are thinking they’ll rebound against the Saints, as this line has been bet up from -4.5 to -5.5 at most major books, but I’m not so sure. 

The Saints certainly have their flaws, but their run defense should make Josh Allen one-dimensional, and that’s never good. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more of Taysom Hill running the ball as he’s getting healthier.

Pick: Saints + 6.5

Brown: The Bills backfield has devolved into the dreaded three-headed rotation, as no one has proven to be a productive fantasy back. This has forced oddsmakers to adjust their lines for all three running backs, which gives us an opportunity to target Devin Singletary's receiving yardage prop.

Singletary still leads this backfield in snap share and routes run. He is Allen’s immediate secondary read, as he was targeted three times as a secondary option last week.

This week's matchup could be difficult for the Bills offense, as the Saints defense ranks third in the NFL in PFF’s opponent-adjusted grades. This could result in even more dump-offs, which would benefit Singletary. With his receiving yardage prop number so low that he could exceed it with one play, buy into Singletary producing once again through the air. He has only gone over his receiving yardage prop in two games this season, making this the perfect buy-low spot on Thanksgiving night. 

Pick: Devin Singletary Over 9.5 Receiving Yards (-113)

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