Thanksgiving NFL Odds: Betting Picks For Bears-Lions, Bills-Cowboys, Saints-Falcons
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Khalil Mack, Dak Prescott, Michael Thomas
- Our staff previews all three NFL Thanksgiving games from a betting perspective, including picks on the over/unders for Bills-Cowboys and Saints-Falcons.
- Learn about the biggest mismatches and more information you need before placing your bets.
Turkey is defrosting. Sides are prepped. Pies are done. Now it’s time to finalize your Thanksgiving Day betting card.
Luckily our experts are here to help you find the best betting angles for Thursday’s trio of games:
- Bears at Lions: 12:30 p.m. ET
- Bills at Cowboys: 4:30 p.m. ET
- Saints-Falcons: 8:20 p.m. ET
Bills vs. Cowboys Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds
- Odds: Cowboys -7
- Over/Under: 47
- Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: CBS
Public bettors are willing to fade America’s Team on Thanksgiving, with more than 60% of spread tickets and money coming in on the Buffalo Bills. But is there any value on the Dallas Cowboys (and/or the over/under)?
Our experts analyze every angle of this Thanksgiving Day matchup, featuring a staff picks and more.
Bills-Cowboys Injury Report
Which team is healthier? Bills
The Bills are on top of their game as their statuses are already out for Thursday. Robert Foster (hamstring) and center Mitch Morse (hand) are listed as questionable, while right tackle Ty Nsekhe (ankle) has been ruled out.
The Cowboys are in decent shape, but are expected to be without linebacker Leighton Vander Esch as he continues to be battle an on-going neck issue. Offensive lineman La’el Collins (knee/back), Zack Martin (back/ankle/elbow) and Connor Williams (knee) have been limited in practice all week, but that’s typical for them. — Justin Bailey
Cowboys Rush Offense vs. Bills Rush Defense
Don’t be fooled by the Bills’ 8-3 record — they’ve compiled that fast start thanks to one of the easiest schedules in the NFL.
In fact, the Bills have inexplicably got to eight wins through 10 games with a strength of victory of just .239! That means the combined winning percentage of the teams they’ve defeated is less than 25%. And the only reason that’s not the lowest in the AFC is because the Bengals haven’t won a game yet so they don’t have a SOV!
While the Bills do have an outstanding pass defense led by a lockdown corner (Tre’Davious White) and two outstanding safeties (Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde) on the backend, they remain very vulnerable against the run. Despite the soft schedule, they’ve still allowed 4.4 yards per carry, which ranks outside the top 20 and also ranks 26th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA against the run.
Well, that spells bad news against a Cowboys offense that averages 4.6 yards per rush and ranks third overall in rush offense DVOA. In fact, the Cowboys rank inside the top three in both passing and rushing DVOA.
Once Ezekiel Elliott gets going, it should open up the passing attack through playaction.
It all starts up front with the dominant Dallas offensive line, which ranks second in line yards, per Football Outsiders. Buffalo’s defensive front is about mid-pack in that same category, but what’s even more troubling is the Bills’ rank of 30th in both second level and open field. That means that not only should the Cowboys keep the chains moving on short yardage situations, but they should have plenty of chunk runs as well against a very weak Bills run defense up the middle in front of their safeties.
Expect a huge day from Zeke on the ground as well as Dak Prescott as needed when nothing opens up through the air. The Cowboys aren’t necessarily famous for their strategic run vs. pass play-calling splits as they’ve run the ball in less-than-ideal spots this season but that may actually work in their favor this week. — Stuckey
Travis Reed: Under 47
The Bills defense is very good, but it may be overshadowed by the Patriots dominate defense in their own division. The under is 8-3 in Bills games this season, going under by an average of 4.1 points. Two of the three games that went over the total were when the Bills played the laughably bad Dolphins defense.
This line opened at 45, and with 76% of the money on the over as of writing (see live public betting data here), it’s moved up to 47. I’m happy to buy back on this line movement and take the under.
The Cowboys offensive metrics scream that they’re one of the best scoring teams in the league, but as long as Jason Garrett is the head coach, they’ll continue to leave points on the field due to poor decisions. I like the under all the way down to 44.5 points.
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Saints at Falcons Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds
- Odds: Saints -7
- Over/Under: 48.5
- Kickoff: 8:20 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: NBC
The Atlanta Falcons upset the Saints as 13-point underdogs just three weeks ago, beating Drew Brees and Co. outright in New Orleans, 26-9. Now the Saints are 7-point road favorites for this primetime rematch on Thanksgiving.
Which team can you trust in this divisional showdown? And is there any value on the over/under?
Our experts analyze every angle of this game from a betting perspective, complete with a staff pick.
Saints-Falcons Injury Report
Which team is healthier? Saints
The Saints have a key injury up front with Terron Armstead (back), who left last week’s game with a high-ankle sprain. His potential absence wouldn’t be ideal for the Saints given he boasts elite pass-blocking chops, grading out as their best pass blocker per Pro Football Focus. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) has managed limited practices, so he could be on track to return.
Austin Hooper (knee) has yet to resume practicing, so I wouldn’t expect him back. However, Devonta Freeman (foot) got in a full practice on Tuesday, so he should be back in the lineup on Thanksgiving.
The Falcons’ biggest injury of note is Julio Jones, who briefly exited last week’s game with a shoulder injury before ultimately returning. However, he has yet to get in a practice this week, which is concerning for his outlook. I’d be very surprised if he isn’t listed as questionable on Thursday’s injury report. — Justin Bailey
Michael Thomas vs. Falcons Pass Defense
Death, taxes and eight-plus catches for Michael Thomas.
Those are pretty much the only things you can count on these days, and at this point, Thomas seems far more certain to live forever and never pay taxes than to fail to dust whichever secondary has the misfortune of facing him in a given week.
Thomas has posted at least eight catches and 89 yards in all but one game this season, and he still found the end zone in the one game he didn’t hit those catch and yard marks. The onslaught includes a 13-152 thrashing of these very Falcons back in Week 10 despite the Saints falling, 26-9.
The Falcons are no match for Thomas. And it’s not because they’re ranked 29th in pass defense DVOA, per Football Outsiders. Or because they’ve allowed the third-most yards (192.5) and sixth-most touchdowns (1.27) per game to wide receivers. It’s simply because no defense is. — Chris Raybon
PRO System Match
Since 2003, the under is 825-732-29 (53.0%) in division games. Unders have been a smart play in division games as increased familiarity between teams creates a lower-scoring environment.
It may seem obvious to some bettors, but it’s been more profitable to take the under in division games with high totals (more than 44 points). It’s just easier for unders to cash when more points are expected to be scored.
Following this Pro System, bettors have gone 183-112-3 (62%) since 2003. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $6,193 following this strategy.
PRO Systems are data-driven betting strategies that turn winning long-term trends into easy-to-follow picks, all handpicked and monitored by our team of analysts. Try Action PRO now and instantly access real-time game matches for every PRO System.
Stuckey: Under 1H 24/Under 49 game split
I expect a fully focused effort from the Saints defense a week after giving up 31 to the Panthers, especially with revenge on their minds from a home upset loss to these same Falcons a few weeks ago.
I was on Atlanta in that game at +13, which obviously deserved to cover, but the outright win was fairly fortunate despite a 26-9 final. The total yardage was essentially dead even, and the Saints actually averaged more yards per play (4.9-4.5). So, despite losing by 17, they held the Falcons to almost 1.5 yards per play under their season average.
What went wrong? Bad Saints penalties at very inopportune times (12/90 in total) and 0-3 on fourth downs for Sean Payton’s bunch.
Ultimately, I still trust this Saints defense to contain a Falcons offense that has plenty of issues.
Yes, the Falcons have Matt Ryan and a pair of very good receivers in Jones and Calvin Ridley. But they have no running game to speak of, averaging 3.5 yards per carry (28th) and will likely be down to their third-string tight end — a position that’s very important to the offense, especially in the red zone. And remember that Jones isn’t fully healthy. The offensive line is also a mess and will be going up against a strong Saints defensive from that should win the line of scrimmage battle all night long.
With or without Lattimore, I don’t expect Atlanta to explode on offense. I also think the Falcons will run it more than usual to shorten the game with an undermanned offense.
The Saints, meanwhile, have their own issues along the offensive line. After already losing starting left guard Andreas Peat, they’ll now be without Armstead, who has been one of the best tackles in the league this season. He’s especially strong in pass protection, where he’ll be sorely missed. Per PFF, he ranks fourth among 55 tackles with a minimum of 500 snaps with a pass-blocking grade of 84.3.
Whoever the Saints elect to go with, the pass protection will take a hit, which is concerning against a Falcons defensive front that dominated the trenches in the first matchup. Atlanta got to Brees for six sacks in that Week 10 showdown.
I think you’ll see the Saints go heavier run than normal without their star tackle. Thomas will get his against a very bad Falcons pass defense, but Mike gets his against everyone. This Saints offense is a very slow and conservative attack that ranks 30th in seconds per play in both the first half and full game.
When people think of the Falcons and Saints, they think of explosive offense, which is giving us a touch of value on the under in a Thanksgiving primetime game. I expect both game scripts to be conducive to the under.
I’d look at the Falcons at +7.5 or even potentially a flat 7, though I prefer the under, which I split that between the first half (24) and full game (49). I wouldn’t go below 24 for the first half or 48 for the game.
Bears at Lions Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds
- Odds: Bears -5.5
- Over/Under: 37
- Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: FOX
All odds as of Thursday morning.
Jeff Driskel has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, which means third-string quarterback David Blough will get the start for the Detroit Lions. The news has moved the Chicago Bears from 3- to 5.5-point favorites, with the Over/Under falling to 37. But is there still value on either line?
Our experts analyze every angle of this NFC North matchup from a betting perspective, complete with a staff pick.
Bears-Lions Injury Report
Which team is healthier? Lions
The Lions’ biggest injury is obviously Driskel. But another to monitor is cornerback Rashaan Melvin (ribs), who was a late add to the injury report last week and ended up missing their game. He still hasn’t resumed practicing.
Meanwhile, neither of the Chicago’s tight ends — Ben Braunecker (concussion) and Adam Shaheen (foot) — have practiced this week. Other players who haven’t practiced include Taylor Gabriel (concussion), along with linebacker Danny Trevathan (elbow) and right tackle Bobby Massie (ankle). The Bears said Gabriel and Braunecker are both unlikely to play. — Justin Bailey
Note: All injury info as of Wednesday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.
Bears Defense vs. Lions Offense
If you’re the type to plan your Thanksgiving festivities around football, consider making it an early dinner, because the Lions offense is shaping up to be must-fade TV at 12:30 p.m. ET.
If you can’t help yourself, you’ll be treated to a Lions offense quarterbacked by Blough with practice-squad/couch-dweller Bo Scarbrough as the lead ballcarrier. This against a Bears defense that’s allowing the fourth-fewest points per game (17.1) and is ranked sixth in schedule-adjusted efficiency, per Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
In the first meeting between these two teams back in Week 10, a Driskel-led Lions attack mustered all of 13 points despite running 75 offensive plays in a 20-13 defeat. What makes the Bears defense particularly tough for an inexperienced quarterback is that even if that quarterback can manage the game well and stay ahead of the chains on early downs, it’s tough to sustain drives on Chicago, which ranks No. 4 in the NFL in third-down conversion rate allowed (32.9%).
With the Matt Nah-gy led, Mitch False-bisky helmed Bears offense also banged up and struggling, this game has late-in-the-year divisional under scribbled all over it. — Chris Raybon
Raybon: Under 39
As mentioned, the Lions offense is in dire straits starting a replacement-level QB against a top-six defense.
Meanwhile, over the past five weeks, the Bears have faced three defenses ranked inside the bottom-24 in DVOA — Chargers, 25th; Lions, 24th; Giants, 27th — yet the most points Chicago has mustered in a game over that span is 20. In fact, the Bears’ last five games have each fallen short of the current total: A 17-16 loss to the Chargers, 22-14 loss to the Eagles, 20-13 win over the Lions, 17-7 loss to the Rams and a 19-14 win over the Giants.