USA Today Sports

Thanksgiving's biggest NFL betting mismatches

A special day calls for a special edition of NFL mismatches. And in the run of the NFL schedule, rarely do you find a more special day than Thanksgiving. We break down some of the underlying mismatches, hoping to give you an inside edge when handicapping Thursday’s action:

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (-6, 50)


Packers’ passive defense vs. Lions’ turnover troubles


The Lions can blame Matt Stafford’s four interceptions for last week’s upset loss to Tampa Bay. And two fumbles and an INT didn’t help matters in Week 11’s loss to Pittsburgh. Detroit is coughing up the ball at an alarming rate – or it would be alarming if Thursday’s opponent wasn’t the toothless Packers defense. According to Yahoo!Sports, Green Bay is one of only four teams without a pick-six this season.

The Packers have only four interceptions overall and have scooped up just six fumbles – the second fewest takeaways in the NFC. If the Cheese Heads are going to get by another week without Aaron Rodgers, they need the defense to give them some extra touches. And it doesn't look like they have the ball hawks to take advantage of a mistake-prone Lions offense, which sits 26th in giveaways per game (1.9).

Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys
(-10, 46.5)


Raiders’ rush attack vs. Cowboys’ run defense

We usually like to dig a little deeper when it comes to our betting mismatches but this deserves mention, especially with Dallas giving so many points at home. The Cowboys defense has been steamrolled by runners this season, giving up an average of 133.6 yards on the ground per game. They've been extra soft against the run in their last three outings, for an average of 204.3 yards against and five rushing TDs. The Giants, Saints and Vikings all chewed up the turf and control the pace of those games.

The Raiders lost their dual-threat QB Terrelle Pryor to a knee injury but remain a danger on the ground. Oakland is fourth in the NFL in rushing - 140.6 yards per game – and return two key cogs of that run game Thursday. Oft-injured RB Darren McFadden should be back on the field this week, giving the Silver and Black a two-pronged attack along with RB Rashad Jennings, who has 413 rushing yards in his last four games. The offensive line also welcomes back stud LT Jared Veldheer, who will help both the pass and run gameplans.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5, 40)

Steelers’ ramped-up attack vs. Ravens' offense stuck in reverse

The Ravens offense is grasping at straws and QB Joe Flacco knows it. The Super Bowl MVP ripped on his coaches’ use of the wildcat formation this week, stating “I think it makes you look like a high school offense”. Well Joe, the fact that Baltimore has averaged just over 18 points in its last six games makes the team look more like a high school offense. That and the fact you have as many interceptions (6) as you have touchdowns (6) in your last four games. Maybe your coaches are trying to tell you something.

Pittsburgh, on the other hand, has undergone an offensive renaissance in recent weeks. The Steelers are scoring almost 30 points per game over their last four outings and, as we mentioned last week, are picking up the pace with a no-huddle attack. The offensive line is finally coming together, giving plenty of running room for RB Le'Veon Bell. That’s opened things up for the passing game as well. Ben Roethlisberger has been the anti-Flacco, throwing for six TDs and zero interceptions in the last two games.

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Posted by davpilzer
9 months ago

This is the time of year that you have to look at the teams which have more motivation to win a game vs. the teams that are playing out the string with no motivation to make the play-offs. Thus I agree with others on Dallas winning handily covering the spread. You have to balance that in a week or two, for fantasy purposes at least, in that the teams which have made the play-offs will rest some of their studs and starters so as to avoid injury, Today I like all the home teams to win, if not to cover, and the OVERs in Dallas and Baltimore.... Happy T-Day...
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Posted by ronnie101
9 months ago

My bad 4-6
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Posted by ronnie101
9 months ago

Dallas is 4-10 vs Oakland Im taking the points
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Posted by MTFN50
9 months ago

Cant see Dallas coming to play after the biggest win in 2 years last sunday in NY . Ripe time to take a Raider team who isn't as bad as there stats show Plus 10 is also nothing to dismiss .Dallas probably loose outright . Ravens beat the bad news Jets ,wont have such a easy time with the resurging Steelers . There hurry up offense should have the old Raven Defense gasping for air Steelers win by 7 Green Bay Detroit ? Flip a coin Ill take the over Happy thanksgiving
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Posted by paymebitch
9 months ago

McFadden is a god damn dog.....even if he plays he'll be knocked out by halftime.....thus raids +5.5.... Dread lightly.
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Posted by 1junkie
9 months ago

I totally agree with J_Logan. McFadden will make up for Pryors absence and Jennings has shown his value ... should be a good opportunity to let the horses out of the barn against this porous Dallas Defence. Pass the turkey please.
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Posted by Crusher13
9 months ago

Boyz in a romp!!!!!!!!!!!! Happy Thanksgiving Cova's Raiders this year's TURKEY!
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Posted by MoneyTalks789
9 months ago

i think the raiders get mopped . 31-17
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Posted by philycowboyfan9
9 months ago

3 winners....det...oak....blt....and im a cowboys fan...but i like money more...might still bet my boys...fuk it
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Posted by echelon1
9 months ago

Dig a little deeper my friend. Terrelle Pryor was 33% of that rushing attack with 504 yards, 7.4 ypc, and 2 of the 10 rushing TD's. McGloin is starting and simply can't run. Take away Pryor's rushing yards from that season total and what do you get...94.8 ypg on the ground. Which slides them from 4th in the league to 23rd. You think someone will pick up that slack as strong as you are insinuating? Rushing from the QB position is a whole other animal. They don't have that anymore. Try again on that mismatch.
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Posted by enochmoney
9 months ago

who do you like for thanksgiving Echelon1
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Posted by J_Logan
9 months ago

I did dig deep on this one. Oakland has rushed for an average of 121.7 yards in its last three games, two of which were without Pryor and the other he managed only 19 yards on the ground. If you read the mismatch further you would know that Darren McFadden is expected back as well as LT Jared Veldheer, who is a terrific run and pass blocker. All the touches Pryor had are now going to the running backs, who still make up on of the best rushing teams in the NFL. Against a terrible Dallas run defense, I think this is massive mismatch - Pryor or not.
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Top Response

Posted by J_Logan
9 months ago

"I did dig deep on this one. Oakland has rushed for an average of 121.7 yards in its last three games, two of which were without Pryor and the other he managed only 19 yards on the ground. If you read the mismatch further you would know that Darren Mc..."