First and foremost, I’d like to wish a happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there who reads anything I am lucky enough to publish on the internet. I hope everyone enjoys a full day of food, family, and fading my terrible picks. Last week, I had a winning week for the first time in what felt like forever. Two wins bring me to 18-23 on the season with seven weeks to go. Hopefully, I can take the momentum from last week into the end of the season and finish the season over 50%. Before we take a look at the Thanksgiving day slate, here’s a quick look at last week’s picks.
Ravens/Bears under 23.0 First Half: A very low-stress winner. Lamar Jackson missing out with an illness certainly helped keep the point total low, but neither of these teams had much going on offense regardless. First-half unders may be back on the menu this week.
Dolphins/Jets under 9.5 First Quarter: This one really hurt to lose. The second quarter was exactly what I thought the first quarter would look like in that it was incredibly ugly football. The Jets even gave me a glimmer of hope by going for it on fourth and goal, but a Dolphins’ miscommunication gave Flacco an easy pitch-and-catch touchdown to go over. Oh well.
Chiefs Team Total under 30.5: I was waiting for this to flip on its head all afternoon but somehow the points stayed off the board. The Cowboys played well enough on defense to keep the Chiefs out of the endzone despite poor ball control and a few poorly timed injuries. Dallas is back in action on Thursday on a short week, maybe that’s something we can exploit.
Now, let’s get to some picks.
Lions Team Total O/U 19.5
Every year on Thanksgiving, it’s important to reflect on what you’re thankful for and to appreciate the things you might take for granted on a day-to-day basis. This year, I’m thankful that I get to write a weekly article about gambling. It may not seem like it, but I take pride in being able to pick winners and attempt to flex my NFL knowledge and analytical skills a bit. I’m particularly thankful because it gives me a reason to watch the Bears play the Lions in the middle of a Thursday afternoon and be at least somewhat invested in the outcome. I’m also thankful for my parents and all they’ve done for me (Time to find out if you really read my articles like you say you do, mom). Seriously though, this game is ugly. If Jared Goff is out and Tim Boyle is starting at quarterback for Detroit again, it gets even uglier. Can someone explain to me how Tim Boyle even has a job? He didn’t even complete 50% of his passes in college; t
hat’s like allowing someone who doesn’t even get 50% of their bets right to continue writing for your website. You know what, forget it.
The Lions team total as of Monday night is set at 19.5. If Goff is healthy enough to start on Thursday this number may come up a little bit, but I like the under regardless so the higher the number, the better. The last time these two teams played the Lions scored 14 points while fumbling twice and getting stopped on fourth down twice. That was with Jared Goff at the helm. I previously wrote several sentences about how bad Mike White is which was immediately followed by him lighting it up and making me eat my words. I’m incredibly confident Tim Boyle will not do that. He completed 65% of his passes (not bad) for 77 yards (very bad). He also threw one of the worst interceptions I’ve ever seen. I hate to be so mean to Tim Boyle, but he won’t throw the ball down the field and put up points in a hurry. The Lions have hit the 20 point mark just once this season, all the way back in week one.
On the other side of the ball, the Bears aren’t an offensive juggernaut either. I’m sticking with the Lions team total because of the potential for whacky turnovers that turn into points, but I could actually see this game being a tight, low-scoring affair; especially on a short week for both teams. The Lions are one of the fastest teams in the league in terms of seconds per play, but that’s because they’re always playing catchup. In neutral situations, the Lions are one of the slower teams in the league, taking their time between plays and huddling up before each snap. Andy Dalton and the Bears likely won’t run away this one, they’re favored by just three points, so I see this game being a slow, low-scoring game early to kick off Thanksgiving day football.
Pick: UNDER 19.5 (-115, Fanduel Sportsbook)
Cowboys Team Total O/U 29.5
One thing I’ve learned over the past several weeks is the best way to find a winner is to look for the stats and matchups first, develop an expectation, and then compare it to the line and make a pick if there’s a significant difference. With only three games on Thursday, I’ll have to break that rule and make a pick for the sake of making a pick. If it wins, I’ll act like I had a great read on the game, if it loses it’s because I broke my own rule and I’ll use that as a moral victory. With that being said, the second game of the holiday has the Raiders traveling to Dallas to take on the Cowboys. Both teams are coming off disappointing losses on Sunday in which the offenses struggled to put points on the board.
I’m focusing on the Cowboys for the purposes of this pick because the team total feels high to me, but I also think the game under could be a good play here. Dallas is coming off a game against the Chiefs where they had little going on offense all day. Dak Prescott threw two interceptions, CeeDee Lamb was knocked out of the game with a concussion and Ezekiel Elliot was also banged up and missed some time. Amari Cooper is also out on Thursday due to COVID protocols, leaving the Cowboys shorthanded on offense. The Raiders defense isn’t overly formidable, but they’ve only allowed over 29.5 points twice this season. To go back to the things I’ve learned this season, numbers are much larger than your brain, or at least my brain tends to believe. The Cowboys also have only scored over this mark twice in their last seven thanksgiving games. I don’t know how much that matters, but if you’re on the fence it could be enough to make you believe me. Take the Cowboys team under, fall asleep after a big meal, and be thankful you didn’t miss much offense while you were napping.
Pick: UNDER 29.5 Points (-115, DraftKings Sportsbook)
Saints Team Total O/U 20.5
If you’re like me, you like to gamble to add a little extra excitement to games and for a reason to watch the games. If you’re gambling professionally, you’re either reading this article to laugh at me, or you’re not very good at your job. Rooting for points is fun, so I’d like to apologize for the way this article turned out. I promise when I started putting pen to paper earlier today, I didn’t intend on taking three unders. The Saints are at home on Thursday night against the Bills with their team total set at 20.5. New Orleans hasn’t won since Trevor Siemian took over for the injured Jameis Winston.
The Bills are coming off a loss to the Colts where they were absolutely dominated and looked to be the inferior team while Jonathan Taylor ran all over them. It stands to reason that the Saints will come out and run the ball frequently, but if Alvin Kamara remains out (Did not practice Monday), it will be difficult for the Saints to hand the ball off to 31-year-old Mark Ingram as frequently as the Colts did with a much younger Taylor. Trevor Siemian hasn’t shown enough to get the Bills to respect him in the passing game, so they should be able to key in on the run game and force Siemian into some obvious passing downs. He’s also struggled heavily against the blitz this year, forcing the ball downfield into some bad situations. The Bills pass rush may be able to rattle Siemian and keep the Saints’ offense out of the end zone. Buffalo has beat up on some really bad teams this year, at least defensively. They’ve held the Jaguars to 9 points and shut out both the Dolphins and Texans.
Pick: UNDER 20.5 (-120, Fanduel Sportsbook)
Featured Image by Jacob Roy (@jmrgraphics3 on IG)