The 2019-20 NFL season brings us a special Thursday slate this Thanksgiving and we’ll help guide you through the betting process.
Injury updates on star players such as Matt Stafford (back) and Julio Jones (shoulder) will soon change the point spreads listed by US sportsbooks like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook for Week 13 of the NFL season.
At PlayPicks, we feel confident with the information that we have to start making our picks against the spread.
In this column, we will list our best bets against the spread and point totals with data to support our picks. Then, we will list the following games on the NFL slate in order of our confidence in analyzing the matchup. Keep in mind that lines can often shift due to weather or other unforeseen issues. Of course, injury news plays a huge role throughout the NFL season, and the status of specific players often bears monitoring until a couple of hours before kickoff.
NFL Thanksgiving Best Bets
New Orleans Saints (-6.5) at Atlanta Falcons
This game hinges on injury news with Julio Jones (shoulder), Devonta Freeman (foot), and Austin Hooper (knee) all potentially out for Atlanta’s sporadic offense. The Saints could get top CB Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) back to deal with Jones or potentially shadow Calvin Ridley if the Falcons top WR sits.
New Orleans will obviously be fired up for this one after a stunning 26-9 home loss to Atlanta three weeks ago. A narrow win over Carolina last Sunday has kept this spread manageable, but the Saints have covered in their other two division games this season.
New Orleans is completely shutting down opposing rushing attacks and also ranks top 10 in DVOA pass defense. The Saints rank 11th in adjusted sack rate (7.5%) and have held passers to an 81.8 rating while yielding just 3.7 YPC on the road this season.
Prior to their stunning loss to Atlanta in Week 11, the Saints had won three straight by an average of 10 PPG over their rivals. Atlanta’s leaky pass defense looked great in two games coming out of their bye, but was completely exposed by Jameis Winston and the Bucs. Look for Sean Payton and Drew Brees to capitalize on those weaknesses in a comfortable victory for the Saints.
Dallas Cowboys (-6.5) vs Buffalo Bills
This is a good opportunity for a contrarian bet, as most of the initial money is coming in on the Bills to cover on the road. If that pushes the spread even closer, then you should feel quite confident backing Dallas in a bounce-back effort. The Bills are atop the league with a 7-3-1 record ATS this year, but the Cowboys are second in the NFL with an 8-5 record ATS at home since the start of last season. More importantly, the Cowboys have far more talent on both sides of the ball and are playing at a higher level due to facing a far more challenging schedule than the Bills.
Buffalo appears to have plugged its leaky run defense in dominant defensive efforts against the Dolphins and Broncos. But prior to that, the Bills coughed up a whopping 175.8 rushing YPG over four games. That includes 218 yards on the ground to an Eagles team that generally struggles to get its rushing attack going. Of course, Dallas demolished the Eagles in a big spot at home a few weeks ago, and has a superior rushing attack led by Ezekiel Elliott, that ranks third in DVOA rush offense. The Bills rank 27th in DVOA rush defense.
The Bills excellent pass defense has been much more vulnerable with an 84.2 passer rating allowed on the road. Dak Prescott is sporting a 105.9 passer rating while averaging 350 passing YPG at home this season. Josh Allen is 27th in total QBR (43.4) and Prescott leads the NFL in that department according to Football Outsiders’ rating system. If the Cowboys can stop the run, they should have no issues winning comfortably.
Chicago Bears (-3.5) at Detroit Lions
This line opened at Detroit (-1.5) but after the Lions fell at Washington, heavy action has made the Bears favorites. Chicago was far from impressive in a recent win over the Giants, but is still technically in the playoff hunt while the 3-7-1 Lions might be ready to pack it in and save Matt Stafford (back) for next season.
When these teams met last Thanksgiving, Chase Daniel led the Bears to a 20-13 win. Now it’ll be the Lions using a backup QB against a defense that still ranks sixth in DVOA pass defense. Jeff Driskel tossed three picks against Washington’s horrendous defense and now his (or David Blough’s) talented WRs have a tough matchup against Chicago’s physical corners.
Chicago’s defense has traveled well with a 4:5 TD:INT ratio and 3.8 YPC average allowed on the road this season. Mitch Trubisky has played a little bit better over his last three games and has had success with a 102.9 passer rating and 8 TDs over 4 career meetings with the Lions. Detroit’s secondary is underachieving while ranking 24th in DVOA pass defense, and the Lions are 5-8 ATS at home under Matt Patricia.