Latest Thanksgiving NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Bet on Bills, Plus Bears-Lions and Raiders-Cowboys Tips
Joshua Bessex/Getty Images. Pictured: Bills QB Josh Allen
- Which spreads should you bet based on the latest Thanksgiving NFL odds? Our analyst updates his picks for all three games.
- Find out which predictions he thinks is worth betting between Bears-Lions, Raiders-Cowboys and Bills-Saints.
Updated Thanksgiving NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions
We covered which Thanksgiving trends bettors need to know and analyzed all three matchups in detail with the early-week edition of this column below, but with lines shifting as we draw closer to kickoffs, here’s a quick update.
As expected, the Bears-Lions line dropped from Bears -3.5 to -3 with Andy Dalton starting in place of the injured Justin Fields. But with the possibility of Jared Goff (questionable) starting and the swirling Matt Nagy rumors, we’re dropping that pick from a “bet” to a “lean” to be safe.
Otherwise, we still like the Bills to get right and cover against the Saints, making Buffalo our lone “bet” for the holiday.
- Lean Bears -3.5 at Lions (12:30 p.m. ET)
- Lean Cowboys -7 at Raiders (4:30 p.m. ET)
- Bet Bills -5.5 (to -6) at Saints (8:20 p.m. ET)
Editor’s note: The rest of this story was written and published on Monday.
Thanksgiving week is here! So baste that turkey, stuff the bird real good, whip up those potatoes and save me a slice of pumpkin pie. And, most importantly, find me a nice comfy spot on the couch with remote in hand for a tryptophan-induced nap and a nice full day of Thanksgiving football.
Detroit and Dallas will host the day games as always, and New Orleans gets the nightcap this year. All six Thanksgiving Day teams lost on Sunday, so they’ll all be ready to put Week 11 behind them and go for that W.
Before we make picks for the three Turkey Day games using our “bet” or “lean” confidence ratings, let’s use our Action Labs tools to dig into some Thanksgiving trends. All trends are since 2005.
3 NFL Thanksgiving Betting Trends
1. Don’t blindly bet the mainstays
Your instincts tell you this is the one game each year these teams always get up for, but books are pricing that in, because the two Thanksgiving mainstays have not been good covers: Detroit and Dallas are 6-10 against the spread (ATS) since 2005.
The Lions are 4-0 ATS as Thanksgiving favorites but 2-10 ATS as underdogs, with opponents winning all 12 matchups and covering by 9.8 points. It appears that books are pricing in bettors’ tendency to bank on Detroit showing up for Thanksgiving. Fading the underdog Lions has covered 83% of the time, the strongest Turkey Day trend on the board.
2. Trust the favorites to cover
While it hasn’t been profitable to blindly back the Lions and Cowboys, it has worked well to blindly back the favorites. Thanksgiving favorites are 32-14 ATS since 2005, covering 70% of the time by 4.7 points.
In fact, favorites have been so dominant that only three teams have a losing ATS record as favorites on Thanksgiving: The Giants (0-1), 49ers (0-1) and Cowboys (5-7). That means the Cowboys are the one team you shouldn’t necessarily back as Thanksgiving favorites.
Excluding the Cowboys, all other Turkey Day favorites are 27-7 ATS, covering 79% of the time by 7.5 points.
That said, the Cowboys are the one big favorite this Thanksgiving, and favorites of seven or more points are 16-3 ATS on the holiday, covering 84% of the time. And the favorites trend isn’t just for the Detroit and Dallas games — Thanksgiving night favorites are 10-4 ATS, covering 71% of the time.
One more note: The public is winning on Thanksgiving. Thanks, sportsbooks! When at least 57% of the spread bets are on a Thanksgiving favorite, that team is covering 77% of the time at 24-7 ATS. It’s early, but right now the Cowboys and Bills are getting very strong public support.
3. Over/under trends aren’t as strong … except at night
Since 2005, we’ve had exactly 23 overs and 23 unders. There aren’t many clear trends on betting Thanksgiving totals. Lions overs are 10-6, but that’s just 7-5 when they’re underdogs (like they are this year), so that’s not a very strong trend to rely on.
The one trend that could be worth a play here comes in the nightcap. Thanksgiving night unders are 10-4, going under by 5.8 points, and they’ve gone under in six straight. These primetime games always seem to play about as tired as our stomachs. The Bills and Saints both have terrific defenses, so don’t be surprised if we see a seventh straight night under.
Alright, let’s get to the three games and make some picks.
Note: Odds highlighted below are the best available for each pick as of writing. Shop for the best real-time lines with our NFL odds page.
Thanksgiving NFL Odds
Bears (-3.5) at Lions
It’s possible neither team’s starting quarterback will play on Thursday.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that Andy Dalton is expected to start for the Bears after Justin Fields left Sunday’s game with bruised ribs. And opposite Dalton could be Tim Boyle after Jared Goff missed Week 11 with an oblique injury. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Goff is unlikely to play on Thanksgiving, which would mean a second start for Boyle, who was miserable in his debut. He went 15-of-23 for just 77 yards, a pitiful 3.4 yards per attempt, with two interceptions against the Browns.
The Bears and Lions have been dreadful. FOX put a graphic up Sunday afternoon with the wide-open NFC playoff picture, and it included 14 teams — every NFC team but these two. But it’s important to note that, while the Bears have been bad, the Lions have been even worse.
The Lions offense entered the weekend 31st in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA — note that DVOA ratings have not been updated to include Week 11 games — and looked set to get shut out by the Browns before D’Andre Swift broke a long run.
The Lions lost another guard, so they’re now down three starting offensive linemen. They didn’t have any WRs to start with, and Goff is likely out. That means Boyle, Swift and T.J. Hockenson are about all they’ve got. And the defense isn’t much better.
Chicago is pretty banged up, too.
In addition to Fields, Allen Robinson is a question mark with a lingering hamstring. And the defense is in rough shape. Khalil Mack is done for the year while Akiem Hicks and Eddie Jackson are question marks after missing Week 11. Jackson seems likely to go this Thursday, and he’d be a big help.
Even with the injuries, the Bears are the one unit in this game that’s been at least semi-respectable.
It feels tough to get a read on this one, but recent trends say to trust the Bears. They’ve won six of seven against the Lions, and that includes three in a row in Detroit, two of which were on Thanksgiving. The Bears beat the Lions comfortably in October behind a big game from David Montgomery, who is healthy now and should have another nice outing.
And remember, road favorites are 10-2 ATS visiting Detroit on Thanksgiving. Ford Field has been like a warm welcome-home hug for visitors on Turkey Day.
PICK: Bet Bears -3 if available; “Wait” till closer to kickoff if not
Raiders at Cowboys (-7)
Like the early game, we’ve got a ton of injury issues for the afternoon game, mostly on the Cowboys’ side.
CeeDee Lamb has already been ruled out in concussion protocol while Amari Cooper is still on the COVID list, so that likely leaves Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson as the Cowboys’ top receivers. The defensive line is also banged up badly with Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence missing.
Left tackle Tyron Smith is a key injury to watch for Thursday — he missed this past Sunday and the run game clearly isn’t the same without him.
The Raiders are healthier physically, but it’s starting to feel like this team just has too much to overcome mentally with everything it has dealt with off the field this season.
The offense hasn’t been clicking at all. Out of the bye, the Raiders have scored just 16, 14 and 13 points, and that was against the Giants, Chiefs and Bengals — all below average defenses. And the Raiders lost all three. They’ve become a get-right game for opponents.
The Cowboys offense has been super hit-or-miss lately, with two duds in the last three games against the Chiefs and Broncos. But the defense continues to be terrific and it should carry Dallas in this matchup. Even in a tepid loss to the Chiefs, the Cowboys defense more than did its part against a dangerous offense that had exploded the week before.
Still, this line does feel a touch high for my liking. I’d make it closer to Cowboys -6 with the injuries, so it hurts to end up on the wrong side of the key number.
We know, though, that favorites of a touchdown or more are 16-3 ATS on Thanksgiving. Big favorites fare well in Thursday games in general, and road Thursday dogs coming off a multi-game home stand (like the Raiders) are just 15-30 ATS. We know Dallas will be a public bet, too, another favorable trend.
I like the Cowboys, but with all their injuries, this pick is a “lean” — not a “bet.”
The better angle could be the under, with Raiders offense MIA and the Cowboys attack so banged up. Thursday unders with a total opening at 53 or higher — this one opened at 54 — are 14-4 since 2003, going under by 9.6 points.
A likely under makes a Cowboys cover a trickier play, too, and I definitely wouldn’t play them past -7.
PICK: Lean Cowboys -7
Bills (-4) at Saints
We might finally get a good Thanksgiving matchup in the nightcap, but that depends on which version of the Bills shows up.
The 6-4 Bills have ugly losses to the Jaguars and Colts, and have lost three of their past five games with six Josh Allen interceptions during that stretch. But the Bills have been the league’s biggest all-or-nothing team of the season. They lead the league in Variance, per Football Outsiders, with a historically high rating.
That means when Buffalo is bad, it’s really bad. But when Buffalo is good, it’s great. All six of those wins have come by 15 or more points.
This past Sunday was a rough one for the Bills, but it also felt like one of those games where everything goes wrong. The turnovers piled up, including a fluke fumbled kickoff return in which the turf monster tackled the return man and the ground caused a fumble that turned into what was effectively a clinching Colts TD on the next play.
The NFL season is long and hard. Sometimes it just feels like the field is slanted against you. That was Sunday for the Bills. But it doesn’t mean they’re bad now.
The Bills are still one of the top teams in the AFC and the defense has been elite outside of that Colts letdown. Buffalo entered the season ranked first in defensive DVOA, and this feels like the perfect get-right spot for a pissed off, fired up Bills unit against a Saints offense besieged by injuries.
Trevor Siemian is QB3 for a reason and has looked the part. The Saints are also missing stud WR Michael Thomas and three of the five starters from what was supposed to be an elite O-line. Alvin Kamara is also a question mark after missing the last two.
The Saints got demolished on Sunday, maybe worse than the Bills. The Saints got the ball back entering the final quarter down 33-7, with the one score coming off after a fluke fumble and under 100 yards of offense to that point — and that was against a blah Eagles’ D. Now TE Adam Trautman is out, too.
It’s really hard to see the Saints offense scoring much here. They could be missing seven of their 11 starters, and they’re facing an excellent Bills defense that just got absolutely gashed by Jonathan Taylor. Sometimes the best thing that can happen after an embarrassing loss is a short week and a chance to get right back out there and make things right. That’s what this is for Buffalo.
The Bills are undervalued off a blowout loss while the Saints probably haven’t been devalued enough thanks to some garbage time production late in Sunday’s game.
That said, this feels like another under with two tough defenses. The Saints’ unit is terrific, too, and the Bills offense has been pretty inconsistent. And remember, Thanksgiving night games have gone under in 10-of-14 seasons, including six straight.
Mostly, though, you have to love the Bills in this spot. That ugly Colts loss was a wake-up call for this team. The Bills are still one of the Super Bowl favorites and I expect them to come out Thursday night and remind everyone why.
Thanksgiving night favorites are also 10-4. The Bills are my top play of the week, but they’re already getting bet up, so grab the -4 while it’s there.
I see value all the way to -6 if necessary.
PICK: Bet Bills -4