NFL Thanksgiving Day Betting Picks & Preview
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
I have a lot to be thankful for in 2018 but I’ll keep this short, sweet and on topic:
For starters, I am thankful for 4for4.com for allowing me the space to share my NFL picks with our readers. While I have been with 4fo4.com for years as a profile writer and co-host of “The Most Accurate Podcast” with John Paulsen, this is the first time I was asked to do picks for the website. Our fearless leader Josh Moore gave the okay for me to write multiple betting columns per week. Considering 4for4.com is dedicated to fantasy football, this was a risk for Josh but I’m grateful for his trust. I’m also grateful for TJ Hernandez, Luis Escalante and those working behind the scenes to get these articles edited and published every week.
I am also thankful for you, our 4for4 readers. Some of you have followed my plays from Week 1 and have shown appreciation for the analysis given in these write-ups. You’ve also been respectful and encouraging when one of picks does not hit, displaying the understanding that this is a marathon and not a sprint. While we have a ways to go this NFL season, I’m thrilled with the feedback through the first 11 weeks and the plan is to keep producing winners!
On that note, I am now 36-17-3 against the spread this year in the NFL. If you followed my Chiefs play on Monday night, hopefully, you bought the hook up to 3.5 but it was a push for me. (What a wild game, by the way, perhaps the most entertaining regular-season game that I’ve ever seen.)
I have three plays for Thanksgiving Day, although I am only playing two of the games. I do not have a play for the Bears-Lions matchup because I believe all of the value has been sucked out of the line. I could have made a valid reason to take the Lions catching four points at home off a short week and the Bears winning an emotional game against Minnesota on Sunday night. That said, with the line down to 2.5 at most books, I’ve decided to pass. After all, even with Mitch Tribusky doubtful for the Bears, Chase Daniel played for Matt Nagy in Kansas City and knows the offense. Plus, the Lions will be without Kerryon Johnson and Marvin Jones so there are injury implications on both sides.
As for the other two matchups, here is what I like on Turkey Day. Whether you fade or follow, best of luck and enjoy the day with friends and family!
107 Washington Redskins at 108 Dallas Cowboys
- Spread: Cowboys -7
- O/U: 40.5
- Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
The Cowboys opened as a 9-point home favorite but the line has dropped to 7 at most sportsbooks. The total has also moved off the original number, dropping from 41 down to 40.5.
While 58 percent of the betting tickets are on the Cowboys, 57 percent of the money is on the Redskins. Coupled with the line movement, that split between the ticket count and money wagered is an indication that sharp bettors are on the underdog. There’s more uniformity with the total, as 70 percent of the betting tickets and 80 percent of the money is on the over.
The underdog has been a great play in this matchup, cashing in 31 of the last 41 meetings. The road team is also 7-2 against the spread in the last nine meetings and the Redskins have covered the spread in nine of their last 11 trips to Dallas. The over is also 5-1 in the last six meetings.
Colt McCoy will make his first start of the 2018 season following the devastating season-ending injury to Alex Smith. McCoy came off the bench last Sunday and completed 6-of-12 passes for 54 yards and a touchdown while also rushing five times for 35 yards in Washington’s loss to Houston. McCoy has been with the Redskins since 2014 and knows Jay Gruden’s offense, so he shouldn’t be overwhelmed by the moment on Thursday.
That said, the Redskins are still dealing with cluster injuries along their offensive line. Guards Brandon Scherff (pectoral) and Shawn Lauvao (knee) are out of the season and left tackle Trent Williams is questionable with a thumb injury. Backup guard Tony Bergstrom (knee) is also questionable, leaving Washington thin up front.
Circling back to McCoy, the majority of his 12 pass attempts came on three and five-step drops. They were quick plays intended for McCoy to get the ball out of his hands quickly. He didn’t show the ability to stretch the field vertically and while he did use his legs to extend drives, this Washington offense lacks explosion. The game plan defensively for Dallas is simple: Bottle up Adrian Peterson and keep McCoy in the pocket, where he can’t beat them consistently.
On the other side, it’s no mystery how to slow down Dallas’ offense: Stop the run and harass Dak Prescott. That’s easier said than done, however, as the Cowboys own the No. 4 rushing offense in the league thanks to Ezekiel Elliott. While Dallas is only averaging 20.3 points per game this season (25th in the NFL), the Cowboys are also confident after winning back-to-back road games against the Eagles and Falcons and they’ll benefit from playing at home off a short week.
Now, I’ve been awful when picking either for or against Washington this year. I had the Redskins +5.5 on that Monday night when they were torched by the Saints and also backed them -1.5 when they were blown out by the Falcons three weeks ago. Last Sunday, I picked the Texans -3 over the Redskins and suffered a bad beat when Washington lost by only two (Houston kicker Kaimi Fairbairn missed a field goal in the closing minutes that likely would have led to a cover). I’m O’fer this year when it comes to Washington so feel free to fade me here.
That said, the NFC East is now the Cowboys’ to lose. They’re healthier, they’re at home and they’re in a revenge spot after losing to the Redskins last month in D.C. There will be upcoming weeks in which to fade Dallas but I think the wheels are about to fall off this Washington wagon and while I expect this game to be close throughout, I see the ‘Boys pulling away in the fourth.
Pick: Cowboys -7
109 Atlanta Falcons at 110 New Orleans Saints
- Spread: Saints -13
- O/U: 59.5
- Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
The Saints opened as 10-point home favorites but the line has since climbed to 13. The total, meanwhile, went up slightly to 59.5 after hitting the board at 59.
Most of the betting tickets (62 percent) are on the Saints but 69 percent of the money wagered at online sportsbooks is on the Falcons to cover the spread. The ticket count (84 percent) and money (93 percent) are both on the over, however.
The underdog covered the spread in eight of the previous 10 meetings between these two teams, including in Week 3 when the Saints beat the Falcons outright as a 3-point dog. Atlanta is also 2-5 against the spread in its last seven games against New Orleans and 2-5 ATS in its last seven trips to the Superdome.
You won’t find two more “Joe Public” plays than the two I have for Thursday night.
The Saints have won nine straight games and covered the spread in all nine of those contests. Most of their games, including their last two versus the Bengals and Eagles, were covered easily at the betting window.
One could make a compelling case for the Falcons. Despite losing back-to-back games to crush their slim playoff hopes, they still employ Matt Ryan and the No. 9 scoring offense in the NFL. These two teams played in Atlanta in Week 3 and Ryan threw for 374 yards and five touchdowns. When you’re catching over two touchdowns with a team that can score, it’s often a wise investment to back the underdog. Plus, the Saints can’t cover the spread every week.
However, I also see zero reason to fade the Saints at this point. Yes, this is a rivalry game and yes, the Falcons can score. Atlanta’s offense was also held to 16 points two weeks ago in Cleveland and 19 points last Sunday at home by Dallas. Their offensive line is not what it was two years ago when they reached the Super Bowl and they don’t have a running game with Devonta Freeman on the shelf. The Saints are also playing significantly better defense now than they were when they faced the Falcons in Atlanta earlier this season. They’re going to harass Ryan all game.
As I’ve written all season, the Falcons are one of the most banged-up teams in the league. Both of their safeties are out for the year and stud middle linebacker Deion Jones is probably still a week away from returning from the foot injury that has kept him out since Week 2. Furthermore, despite having three former first-round picks along their defensive line (Vic Beasley, Takk McKinley and Bruce Irvin), they have zero pass rush and their starting cornerbacks (Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford) are in the middle of down years.
I mentioned how I have three picks on Thursday and two involve this game. Along with laying the points with the Saints, I’m also playing the over. This seems to contradict what I said about Atlanta’s offense struggling the past two weeks but I think New Orleans is good for 40 points in this game. There’s nothing about the Falcons that suggests they’ll be able to slow down Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. Seeing as how Sean Payton ran up the score a week ago versus Philadelphia, why wouldn’t he do it again on Thursday when his team hosts its biggest rival on primetime?
Plus, while the Falcons did struggle to put points up against the Browns and Cowboys, this offense is too good to be held to fewer than 20 points for three straight weeks. After all, two weeks ago Ryan was posting numbers similar to his MVP season in 2016 and Julio Jones has broken free with touchdowns in his last three games. Atlanta also figures to be trailing and as I wrote above, the Falcons have no running game. They’ll have no choice but to throw the ball in attempts to keep pace with Brees and Co. I like the Saints, 41-24.
Pick: Saints -13 and Over 59.5
ATS Season Records
- Week 1: 5-0
- Week 2: 3-2
- Week 3: 4-1
- Week 4: 3-1-1
- Week 5: 3-2
- Week 6: 4-1
- Week 7: 2-3
- Week 8: 3-2
- Week 9: 4-1
- Week 10: 3-2
- Week 11: 2-2-2
- Overall: 36-17-3
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images.