Thanksgiving is about taking a break to reflect with family and friends, but it’s also a time to get some tasty bets down on NFL action.
If you’ve been too busy jumping through the Thanksgiving hoops to handicap Thursday’s slate - don’t worry. Our NFL Thanksgiving Day cheat sheet comes to the rescue like gravy on dry turkey.
Houston Texans at Detroit Lions (+3, 50.5)
The Texans are coming off a near-upset to Jacksonville Sunday and visit the Lions for their first Thanksgiving Day game in franchise history. Detroit has dropped back-to-back games and hasn’t fared well on Thanksgiving Day in recent years, going 0-8 SU and ATS since 2004.
Detroit will be without WR Titus Young, who is being benched for behavior issues, leaving the Lions very thin at receiver. Veteran wideout Nate Burleson is already out for the season, allowing opponents to double-up on star WR Calvin Johnson.
Tight end Brandon Pettigrew could see more passes his way and RB Mikel Leshoure may have to shoulder a heavier load on the ground, in order to take pressure off QB Matt Stafford Thursday.
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5, 48)
This classic NFC East rivalry has been dominated by the underdog in recent seasons, with the pup going 22-6 ATS in the past 29 meeting between the Redskins and Cowboys. Dallas won both encounters with Washington last season but failed to cover in those – and the last four meetings with the Skins overall.
The Cowboys are another Thanksgiving Day mainstay and - unlike the Lions - they have thrived on the holiday, going 8-3 ATS on Thanksgiving since 2001. That goes against Dallas’ current ATS slide at home, where it has failed to cover in its last seven home games overall, including last week’s OT win against the Browns.
Washington rookie QB Robert Griffin III won’t be in an unfamiliar atmosphere at Cowboys Stadium Thursday. During his college career at Baylor, the former Heisman winner played twice in the $1 billion venue. The Redskins have lost all three trips to “Jerry’s World” and are 0-6 SU all-time versus Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.
New England Patriots at New York Jets (+7, 48)
No wonder this spread is back up to a touchdown after dipping as low as 5.5 earlier in the week. The road team is 20-8-1 ATS in the last 29 meetings between these clubs, including New York’s near upset of New England at Gillette Stadium in Week 7.
The Patriots won’t have tight end Rob Gronkowski for this Thanksgiving Day game but fellow TE Aaron Hernandez could return to action after missing time with an ankle injury. New England could hand the bulk of the playbook over the rushing tandem of Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, who have quietly given the Pats the fifth-best ground attack in the NFL (142.9 yards per game).
New York’s defense has been gashed on the ground this season, allowing foes to rumble for 141.7 yards an outing – 30th in the league. Gang Green allowed the Rams to run for 124 yards on just 20 carries in last week’s win in St. Louis (6.2 yards per carry), and watched New England rush for 131 yards in Week 7. The Patriots’ no-huddle attack will drain the Jets’ battery if they line up quick and keep to the ground.