From a gambling perspective, Thanksgiving day NFL games remind me of “Monday Night Football.” We are now treated to three games on the holiday, as opposed to typically just one on a Monday night, but the Thanksgiving games aren’t competing with one another. So watching one game, or one game at a time, doesn’t leave us with the choices we face on Sundays.
Instead of sifting through, say, seven games at 1 p.m. and three games at 4 p.m., we’re captured on Thanksgiving. If you want to kick back and take in an early game, or a late afternoon game, or a night game, there’s just one on the menu. What happens in this scenario, as it often does on Monday night, is we end up betting on games we probably wouldn’t normally consider. But we want to bet, so we take what’s in front of us.
This year’s Thanksgiving tripleheader is unusual because all three games are NFC Division games (Chicago at Detroit, Philadelphia at Dallas, and Seattle at San Francisco). Also, despite just five regular-season games remaining in 2014, none of those teams has even faced each other. The home teams are likely going to be slight favorites, and all of these teams are hunting for playoff spots. This may be a good day to take whatever points you’re being offered.
Of course, this week we have two Monday night games because of the snow in Buffalo. The Bills and the Jets relocated to Detroit, and Buffalo has been adjusted to a 2½-point favorite. There is no true home team, and they have seven wins between them. I can’t say I’m not going to bet on this game, because by kickoff I might feel differently, but I hope I stay away.
Prior to Week 12, Kansas City and Arizona had covered the spread eight times, the most in the NFL. In fact, Kansas City’s only non-cover during that stretch occurred in an opening-week loss to Tennessee (the Chiefs pushed against the 49ers in Week 5). So, of course, Kansas City goes into winless Oakland Thursday night as a 7½-point favorite and loses outright. Oddly enough, Oakland has been a decent bet this season. The Raiders are 6-5 against the spread.
New England failed to cover in three of its first four games, but now has beat the number four straight times and six out of seven. The Patriots’ Week 12 opponent, Detroit, covered three of its first four, but since has failed to beat the number in five of seven games.
Denver hung on against Miami, 39-36, but didn’t cover the 7-point spread as favorites. Anyone who backed Denver had to cringe when Broncos running back C.J. Anderson ripped off a long run with under a minute to play, but fell on the ball instead of dashing for the end zone. At that point, the Broncos were able to take a knee and run out the clock, but the chance for a miracle end-of-game cover was there for the taking.
Minnesota has been an underdog in 10 of its 11 games and is 6-4 against the spread in those contests.
Philadelphia has gone over the posted total in eight of its 11 games.
Inside the numbers:
Overs 6, unders 7
Home underdogs: 2-1