NFL Thanksgiving Day – Best Bets

11 / 23 / 2021 By Ally Mielnicki

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Lions (+3.5) over Bears

The Lions have not been the sexiest team to watch on Thanksgiving the past few years, and this year is no different, sitting with a 0-9-1 record. As of now, we still do not know if it will be QB Jared Goff or Tim Boyle under center this week for the Lions, but we do know that the offense runs through second-year RB D’Andre Swift. The Lions will have to rely on Swift to move the ball down the field against a Bears’ defense who just limited the Ravens – albeit without Lamar Jackson – to 16 points in a loss on Sunday.

The Bears have question marks of their own since rookie QB Justin Field left the game Sunday and could not return due to injury. Veteran QB Andy Dalton stepped in admirably and put the Bears in a situation to win the game, but the defense squandered it by giving up a big play to WR Sammy Watkins, allowing the Ravens to escape with the win.

Though Bears’ fans may not want to admit it, Dalton gives them the best chance at winning as of now. However, even though they have been winless, the Lions still managed to keep games within reach and should be able to step up again at home. Detroit has played all season competitively, taking some of the top teams (Ravens and Rams) down to the wire. I expect the Bears to win in this low-scoring affair, but the Lions should be able to stay within a field goal’s reach for the match.

Cowboys (-7) over Raiders

The Raiders have been winless ever since Jon Gruden resigned as head coach following the release of his controversial emails. Whether or not that has factored into the team’s play is up for debate. Yet, this is a team that has played lethargically in its 3 losses since. Now, they must play on a short week against a Cowboys squad that suffered a poor defeat on national television against the Chiefs.

Dallas could not find the endzone in Arrowhead this past Sunday. Sure, WR Amari Cooper was out due to CoVid, and top wideout CeeDee Lamb never returned from injury in the second half, but the offense as a whole struggled to move the ball with some costly turnovers. Things should be much easier in this contest against a Las Vegas team that has looked completely lost in its past three games.

There have been whispers around the league of potentially benching Raiders QB Derek Carr and inserting former Titans QB Marcus Mariota into the starting position to give the team a spark. Still, the chances are that won’t happen with such little time to prepare. While the Cowboys’ offense played anemic on Sunday, the defense still managed to contain Patrick Mahomes and company, limiting Kansas City to only 19 points and keeping the score within reach the entire 60 minutes. 

Expect the Raiders’ offense to be limited on Thursday against a Dallas defense tha tis one of the best in the league. Though the status of Cooper and Lamb is still questionable for this week, Dak Prescott still has plenty of weapons at his disposal, especially in the run game with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. This season, this team has bounced back from all three of its losses with convincing wins, and this week should be no different. Lay the points.

Bills (-4.5) over Saints

The Bills have been one of the most frustrating teams to watch all season. They have ganged up on some offensively-challenged teams like the Dolphins (twice), Texans, and the Jets but have struggled to defeat the Titans, Colts, Steelers, and, surprisingly, Jaguars. 

The Saints, coincidentally, have also been an up-and-down team all season. They battered the Packers on Opening Weekend and upset the Bucs. However, since losing Winston to a season-ending injury in the Bucs’ contest, the Saints have suffered 3 straight defeats to the Falcons, Titans, and Eagles. Trevor Siemian has been inconsistent on the playing field, and star RB Alvin Kamara has missed the last 2 games with injury. 

This is a challenging game to handicap on a short week, but I like the Bills’ chances to bounce back and secure a convincing victory in New Orleans. Buffalo’s defense should be able to handle the Saints’ lackluster offense with or without Alvin Kamara, as New Orleans’ passing game isn’t the threat it used to be. This is honestly a toss-up match, but I’m siding with the team with the better and healthier roster to come through.

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