Welcome to our Thursday Night Football (TNF) betting page, where we provide odds, analysis, and predictions to help you begin each week of the National Football League season the right way!
Online sportsbooks offer a huge range of markets and odds to choose from for each and every single NFL game and that includes standalone primetime games such as TNF. With so many options available, let PlayPicks be your guide to betting on Thursday Night Football throughout the 2021 season!
WEEK 3 TNF BETTING ODDS & PREVIEW
Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans (Sept. 23, 8:20 p.m. ET)
The Panthers got a nice infusion of talent for their offense in Week 1, when Sam Darnold played his first regular-season game in a Carolina uniform and Christian McCaffrey opened the campaign fully healthy after seeing injuries rob him of most of 2020. Both played a key role in what was arguably a tougher-than-expected win over the Jets, and the Panthers now get an exponentially stiffer Week 2 test against the Saints on the road before this Week 3 matchup against the Texans.
The Texans had plenty to feel good about during their opening game as well, even as the caliber of competition wasn’t exactly top shelf in their case, either. Houston was impressive on both sides of the ball for the most part while notching a 37-21 win over Urban Meyer’s Jaguars in the legendary college coach’s NFL regular-season debut.
For at least one week, Tyrod Taylor put on a perfectly reasonable Deshaun Watson impression, throwing for 291 yards and a pair of touchdowns while adding 40 rushing yards as well. Houston also gets a big step up in opponent Week 2 before this contest takes place, as David Culley’s squad travels to Cleveland for a date with the Browns.
The early line for this contest has opened with the Panthers favorites of around 3.5 to 4.5 points at multiple sportsbooks, while the total is a low-ish 44-to-45.5 points ahead of each team’s Week 2 game.
- Panthers were 7-1 ATS on the road 2020 and are 2-0 ATS in 2021
- Texans are 2-0 ATS in 2021 including covering Week 2 in Cleveland
- Texans are 2-0 to the over while Panthers are 2-0 to the under so far in 2021
For additional information on this game including analysis, betting trends, and a deep dice into any line movement, check out this TNF betting preview from TheLines.
WEEK 3 THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PICKS
The Panthers have managed to run a balanced offense over the first two weeks that’s been built on some impressively efficient passing from Darnold and typically strong work on the ground from McCaffrey, and there’s reason to believe the unit could be at its sharpest yet in this Week 3 matchup. The Texans did a good job on rookie Trevor Lawrence in his first NFL game Week 1, but the Browns’ Baker Mayfield misfired on just two passes in Week 2.
Then, even after forcing Jacksonville into a game script that forced them to lean heavily on the pass in the opener, the Texans still gave up 4.8 yards per rush to the Jags before surrendering a whopping 8.6 yards per rush to Nick Chubb on Sunday. Last season, Houston allowed an NFL-high 160.2 rushing yards per contest, and McCaffrey is unquestionably the type of back that can exploit even the slightest weaknesses in a defensive front.
With the inexperienced Davis Mills now the likeliest starter for the Texans on Thursday in the wake of Taylor’s injury – it’s already being reported that Deshaun Watson will not ride to the rescue and remain inactive – Houston could well be in for a long night on offense.
To being with, the Panthers defense has been very impressive through two games, allowing an NFL-low 46.5 rush yards and 143.5 passing yards per contest. Carolina also has a league-high 10 sacks, and although Mills was serviceable for a rookie third-round pick thrown into the fire Sunday, he could well be overwhelmed against an underrated Panthers group.
MNF Betting Picks: Panthers -7.5, Under 43.5 points (play up to -120)
TNF PROP BETS FOR WEEK 3
Christian McCaffrey, CAR
McCaffrey has quickly amassed 14 catches through two games, as he’s quickly formed a connection with Darnold, who’s targeted him 15 times overall. Houston allowed 80 receptions to running backs last season and have already yielded nine to two games to the position. Meanwhile, McCaffrey recorded at least six catches on 11 occasions in his last healthy season in 2019 and seems like a very solid bet to cash the first prop at an excellent price.
The projected success through the air shouldn’t take away from some solid ground production, either, as Carolina should have the ball more than enough in their matchup against the inexperienced Mills to give McCaffrey a chance to excel in both areas. McCaffrey already racked up 98 rushing yards in Week 1 against the Jets, and although the Texans have looked slightly better against the run through two games this season, they’re still giving up a healthy 4.6 yards per carry thus far in 2021.
David Johnson (RB, Houston Texans)
As of now, the Panthers are the best in the league against both the run and the pass. Combine that with Mills’ inexperience and the projected absence of a reliable safety valve in Danny Amendola (thigh), and we are up a near-perfect storm where Johnson could comfortably exceed both of these props.
Johnson is known as as a receiver out of the backfield and has already been filling that role with some success while Mark Ingram takes on more of the bell-cow role. Johnson has five receptions for 40 yards and a score on six targets through two games, and collected 33 receptions for 314 yards and two scores in 12 games last season.
Carolina’s defense also tied with the Chiefs for third-most receptions given up to running backs in 2020 (93), and although it has yielded only six this season, we think Johnson can wind up with three. It stands to reason that Mills will be operating under a limited playbook in his first NFL start and carry out a game plan that likely will make heavy use of the short passing game as a substitute for the run against a tough defensive front.
Week 3 NFL BETTING ODDS
Thursday Night Football Betting
Thursday Night Football, widely referred to as TNF, first debuted in November 2006 and has spent the better part of two decades etching its place into the collective consciousness of football fans. It currently airs on NFL Network but is also simulcast on a major television network or streaming platform. The rights to TNF are currently owned by FOX, but the program will move exclusively over to the Amazon Prime platform beginning in 2022.
Because TNF is a standalone game in prime time, it sees as much public interest as almost any matchup on a given week. Much of that interest comes from the bettors who are eager to get the NFL gambling week started. For some, the Thursday game represents new hope and opportunity that comes with a new slate of games. For others, watching the game while casually putting a few dollars on it is a great source of entertainment. Either way, it’s a huge betting event.
Online sportsbooks have a huge number of TNF betting markets to choose from, ranging from conventional moneylines, spreads, and totals to a massive catalog of props. With Thursday Night Football being the only game on at the time, the variety of choices offered is especially important for bettors.
Here, we’ll go through how to bet on Thursday Night Football including the different wager types available and some TNF betting strategies to keep in mind.
How To Bet On Thursday Night Football
In some ways, betting on Thursday Night Football isn’t unlike putting money on any other game. Despite the number of options offered, the most popular NFL markets for any matchup will always be the following:
A moneyline bet is a wager on which team will win the game, regardless of the score. The favorite has a negative line while the underdog has a positive line. Take the following example:
- Dallas Cowboys -200
- New York Giants +150
An easy way to calculate moneylines into potential wins and losses is by using the number 100. With favorites, the moneyline is the amount you need to risk to win $100 in profit. But for underdogs, the moneyline is the amount you can win with a $100 wager.
Dallas is the favorite at -200, so bettors must wager $200 to win $100 in profit. The Giants are the underdog with a +150 moneyline, so a $100 bet could win $150 in profit.
TNF Point Spread Betting
Not all teams are created equal and oddsmakers use the point spread to even out the game from a betting perspective. The point spread is a figure set by oddsmakers that tells us how much a team must win or lose by to ‘cover’ the number. The favorite must win by more than the spread, and the underdog can lose by less than the spread indicates.
- Dallas Cowboys -3.5 (-108)
- New York Giants +3.5 (-112)
In our example, the Cowboys are the favorites at -3.5 (-108). This means that bettors must risk $108 to win $100 and need Dallas to win by four or more points to cover the spread and cash the ticket. On the other side, the Giants are underdogs at +3.5 (-112). Big Blue can cover the spread even if it doesn’t win, as long as it loses by three or fewer points and bettors are risking $112 for every $100.
If the spread is a whole number and the favorite’s winning margin lands exactly on the number, the bet is graded a push and all bettors are refunded their original wagers. The spread will be equal for both teams, though the juice that accompanies the odds could vary. Conventionally, games are around -110 but the popular range for juice on NFL spreads is in the -125 to +100 range.
TNF Over-Under Betting
Betting on the over-under (or total) simply involves predicting whether the combined score of the game will go over or under the total set by oddsmakers prior to the game. For example, say the we had the following total:
- Cowboys-Giants Over 47.5 (-115)
- Cowboys-Giants Under 47.5 (-105)
A bet on the Over 47.5 (-115) means risking $115 for $100 in profit and winning the bet if the combined score is 48 points or more. Wagering on the Under 47.5 (-105) would mean laying out $105 to win $100 if the score combines for 47 points or fewer.
Similar to spreads, totals odds hover in the -125 to +100 range. If the total is a whole number and the score adds up to exactly that amount, the bet is a push and all sides are returned their original bets.
Bettors should keep in mind that with no other games on at the time, TNF betting lines are being poured over on all sides. That includes casual bettors (which make up most of the public), sharp bettors (the professionals), and the sportsbook itself. With all of the attention focused on one game, odds are more susceptible to line changes from the sportsbook based on how the public (both recreational and sharp) wagers on the game.
As a result, it can be tough to read TNF line movement and make a confident decision on a side or a total. Some bettors can feel trapped without other games to choose from. But this is where props come in.
Thursday Night Football Betting Props
There are dozens of TNF prop betting odds available for anyone who isn’t comfortable with one of the more conventional markets, or just wants more options to choose from. And while betting sites offer props for all NFL games, their popularity nears its peak during Thursday Night Football.
With only one moneyline, spread, and total to choose from, props take center stage during primetime standalone games such as Thursday Night Football. Sportsbooks such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM are known for posting a huge variety of markets including player props, game props, and team props.
Below, we’ll go through what bettors can expect to run into when looking to make TNF prop bets:
TNF Player Props
Player props are the most popular type of prop bet. Much of that has to do with the fact that many NFL fans are familiar with fantasy football on some level, and most of the betting markets being player states makes them easy to relate to. The options include but are not limited to:
- Touchdown Scorer (First/Last Of Game, Anytime, 1st Half, 2nd Half)
- Over-Under Passing/Rushing/Receiving Yards
- Over-Under Pass Attempts, Completions, & Receptions
- Longest Completion, Reception, & Rush
- Head To Head Player Matchups (Most Rushing/Receiving/Passing Yards, etc.)
If you’re looking for the biggest payout possible among player props, pick a touchdown scorer. For even longer odds, specify which half they score in. Most of the over-unders for quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs have more modest odds. Larger payouts can also be found with player prop parlays, which combine player props with the result of the game.
TNF Game & Team Props
Aside from player props, there are other options that deal with just one of the teams or cover in-game events. We’ve grouped game and team props together because based on the site, many of the choices can be put into one section or the other. Basically, any non player prop is a game or team prop, and the options include:
- Winning Margin
- Correct Score
- Team Totals (Quarters, Halves, Full Game)
- O/U Total Field Goals/Touchdowns (Halves, Full Game, By Team)
- First Team To X Points (10, 15, 20, 25, etc.)
- Halftime/Full Time Result
The largest odds come from predicting the correct score of a game, but that’s nearly impossible. The most realistic big payday comes from nailing the winning margin of the victorious team. The exact margins vary from site to site, as do the odds, but the lines are generally attractive.
Betting on a race to a number of points (r.e. First Team To 10) or going over-under with a specific scoring play such as field goals or touchdowns are some of the more unique ways to take in Thursday Night Football while betting on odds that may not be looked at quite as closely compared to some of the more popular props.
There are also additional options for anyone who may be looking for a modified line, a specific part of the game, or a combination wager such as a parlay:
- Quarters & Halves Moneyline, Spread, & Total
- Alternate Spreads/Totals (Quarters, Halves, Full Game)
- Moneyline or Spread/Total Points Parlays
On top of dozens of markets and hundreds of individual prop betting options, online sportsbooks aren’t done there. Once the game starts, bettors have a whole new slate of betting options to choose from thanks to live betting.
Thursday Night Football Live Betting
Live betting is the process of betting on a game after it already starts, and it’s wildly popular among NFL fans. Similar to props, live betting is common for standalone games when there’s less on the schedule to choose from. The TNF live betting options include but are not limited to:
- Moneyline, Spread, & Total (Quarters, Halves, Full Game)
- Alternate Spreads & Totals
- Team Totals
- Player Props
- Next Drive Result
- Next Touchdown Scorer
Thursday Night Football Betting Strategy
There are some aspects of Thursday Night Football that may alter your perspective of the game compared to how you’d view it on the Sunday slate. For that season, it helps to have a plan going in or at least to have an idea of what you’re looking for during the research process. Consider the following TNF betting tips and strategies before putting any of your money on the line this Thursday:
Take Advantage Of Props
There are many more props than conventional betting options to begin with. And on a Thursday night when so much attention is going to be focused on the moneyline, spread, and total, props are a fun way to enjoy the game while potentially finding some betting value with lesser-tapped markets.
Props offer a huge range of betting opportunities in a variety of categories. No matter what aspect of the game you want to wager on, online sportsbooks have you covered in the props section. Player props are perfect for the fantasy football player, while game and team props can provide a unique game-viewing experience. Odds also vary greatly, so you can take as much or little risk as you want.
Wait For An Injury Report
Players are notoriously at less than 100 percent for Thursday games, even if they wind up playing. The short week means a larger chance of players being forced to sit a game due to the lack of time to rehab, and that can have a huge impact on a game and its odds. For these reasons, wait for an injury report and monitor those players before placing any bets.
Initial injury reports come out on Monday, but we’d wait until at least Tuesday to see how the status of each team’s impact players look going into the game on Thursday.
Bet Overs Early & Unders Late
Standalone primetime games often see the most attention from the public simply because it’s the only game on the schedule. This means every recreational gambler in the space is wagering on this matchup, and that may change how you operate as a bettor.
Casual bettors are known for a couple of things, including betting close to kickoff and taking the over because it’s more fun to root for points. So if you want to bet an over on TNF, bet it early before the public inflates the total. If you’re looking to bet the under, especially if you think a good portion of the public will be opposing you, let nature take its course and try to grab the highest possible number close to kickoff.
Lean Toward Home Teams
Home teams always have somewhat of an advantage but that becomes more pronounced ahead of Thursday games. It’s a physical and mental toll for teams to play on just three days of rest to begin with but when you’re the away team, there are even more obstacles to overcome. The visiting team must travel, which means even less preparation time and it’s possible a team holds zero or one full practice before a game.
Of course, don’t bet blind on the home team. The teams, odds, and situation have a lot to do with it as well. Plus, oddsmakers bake home field advantage into the betting line. But when all things are equal, we’d side with the team that doesn’t have to travel, especially late in the season when clubs become road weary.
2021 Thursday Night Football Schedule
What started with a few games in the run up to the 2006 playoffs blossomed into a full-season affair by 2012. A decade later, Thursday Night Football is firmly entrenched as a staple on the NFL schedule.
If we are getting technical, the NFL’s TNF-branded broadcasts begin in Week 2 since opening night takes place on NBC as part of the Sunday Night Football package. The three games on Thanksgiving in Week 12 are also not included in the TNF package, but all other Thursday games through Week 16 are branded as TNF games.
All that said, we are here to cover every single game that takes place on a Thursday this season, regardless of how it is branded for broadcasting purposes. So below is the schedule for all Thursday games during the 2021 NFL regular season.
|NFL Week||Team vs. Team||Date|
|Week 1||Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||September 9|
|Week 2||New York Giants at Washington||September 16|
|Week 3||Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans||September 23|
|Week 4||Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals||September 30|
|Week 5||Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks||October 7|
|Week 6||Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles||October 14|
|Week 7||Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns||October 21|
|Week 8||Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals||October 28|
|Week 9||New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts||November 4|
|Week 10||Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins||November 11|
|Week 11||New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons||November 19|
|Week 12||Bears at Lions, Raiders at Cowboys, Bills at Saints||November 26|
|Week 13||Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints||December 2|
|Week 14||Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings||December 9|
|Week 15||Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers||December 16|
|Week 16||San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans||December 23|