NFL Best Bets – Week 12 – Thanksgiving Edition
Happy Thanksgiving! Turkey, stuffing, and family are what Thanksgiving is all about, but let’s not kid ourselves, football is still the main course for gamblers! There are three games on Turkey Day, which begin with the Vikings at Lions starting at 12:30 EDT.
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The Vikings head to Ford Field in a game that is critical to the playoff hopes for both franchises. Both teams have identical records at 6-4, but Detroit owns the head-to-head tiebreaker after beating the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on Nov. 6th.
Minnesota’s offseason trade for Sam Bradford after Teddy Bridgewater suffered a season-ending injury in practice was scoffed at by many, but it looked like the right move after they started the season 5-0.
Since then, however, it’s been a rough season. The Vikings won at home last week for the first time in five games, after defeating the visiting Arizona Cardinals 30-24. Defensively, they’ve been fantastic, but injuries to their offensive line and running back Adrian Peterson have drastically hurt their offensive efficiency.
Stefon Diggs, who has been far and away, the Vikings’ most productive wide receiver, is questionable with a knee injury. He is expected to be active come Thursday, but that is not guaranteed. He will not be 100 percent if he suits up.
The Lions have been a surprise this season. It can’t come as a total shock, however, as the offense improved rapidly last season after Jim Bob Cooter took over. They ended the 2015 season winning three out of their last five games.
Last weekend, they took care of the visiting Jaguars 26-19 in what was a slow game until the final quarter. Detroit’s offense is now fully healthy, but they are banged up in a few spots, in what has become a porous secondary.
Bettors have favored the Lions so far, with about 55 percent of bets coming on Detroit. The line opened with Detroit -3 but quickly moved to -2.5, where it currently stands at about just every sportsbook online.
This game is my least favorite on the slate. It’s easy to look at Minnesota and see all the issues they are having on the line and with injuries, but their defense is still fantastic, and Detroit’s defense is still awful.
Detroit’s offense looked sluggish and a bit out of sorts against Jacksonville last week. I think it’s going to be tough to see them scoring more than 20 points in this one. If the Vikings come in with a definite game plan, even of the short passing variety – they should be able to move the ball with ease against the Lions.
Pick: Vikings +2.5
Washington Redskins +7 at Dallas Cowboys -7 Total: 51
The Redskins travel to Dallas to on the Cowboys for an NFC East divisional game. Washington still may have their sights set on the division, but that’s not likely to happen with the Cowboys boasting the best record in football at 9-1.
Dallas came from behind to beat Baltimore on Sunday afternoon, winning 27-17. Washington played on Sunday Night Football against the Packers in a game that became a shootout. They pulled away late, however, to win the game by a 42-24 line and improve their record 6-3-1.
The game opened at Dallas -6, but betting action has pushed the odds to -7. Bettors are split down the middle when it comes to this game. There has been even action on both sides for the most part.
The Cowboys are one of my favorite plays on Turkey Day and in Week 12 in general. They’re obviously a better team than the Redskins, but this spot is especially good for them. Washington is coming off a road win, but more importantly, it was played on Sunday night and not Sunday afternoon.
The NFL week can be tough on players, even with six full days of rest. Washington is playing this game with about 3.5 days of rest. They’re also facing a team that is one of the most physical in the NFL in the Dallas Cowboys and their elite offensive style.
I still expect Cousins to put up points and have a decent game, but Dallas’ offensive front will overpower a weak (and tired) defense that has little going for them behind Josh Norman. I expect the home team to win this one easily.
Pick: Cowboys -7
Pittsburgh Steelers -9 at Indianapolis Colts +9 Total: 48
The Steelers travel to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on the Colts. Pittsburgh is coming off a 24-9 road victory against the Browns in Cleveland last week. They’re right in the thick of it in a subpar AFC North with a 5-5 record.
The odds opened at -3 for the Steelers in this game, but after quarterback Andrew Luck got injured in last week’s 24-17-win over the Titans – the line reopened at Steelers -9.
I was lucky enough to get the Steelers -3 before the injury news moved the line. However, laying -9 is quite different, especially with road woes. They’re averaging 32 points per game at home, but just 22 on the road.
With that said, the Colts defense is one of the worst in the league, and they may be without their top cornerback in Vontae Davis. It’s about as good as a matchup as it’s going to get for Pittsburgh and I expect them to score a lot of points.
However, Pittsburgh’s defense is still quite weak. Even with Scott Tolzien under center, they still have plenty of weapons in Indy. Tolzien has stated that he will “play like a kid” in this contest that may be fine. The Steelers bleed big plays, and there’s plenty of reason to think this one stays close.
Pick: Colts +9