Jimmy McGinty previews the 3 Thanksgiving Day matches in the NFL on Thursday and he is going for a wide the spread treble on the underdogs.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (+3.5pts)
These sides clashed just 11 days ago, and the Bears dominated to win 34-22. Can the Lions turn it around?
The difference between playing outside in cold Chicago and in Detroit’s dome is significant. That day the Lions were adjusting to the recent loss of key slot receiver Golden Tate. They were also on their second road game in two weeks and probably most significantly of all didn’t have their best cornerback Darius Slay playing. Trubisky was brilliant, but he has shown to be inconsistent, so I wouldn’t fancy him to shred the Lions again two weeks on. Trubisky may not be 100% having hurt his throwing arm late last Sunday. He may even sit out and have Chase Daniel start. That would drastically hinder the Bears chances. The Bears will need to throw as the Lions have stopped the run very well since adding Snacks Harrison in October.
Stopping the Bears pass rush will be key to Detroit moving the ball. Stafford was sacked 6 times when these teams met last. It was Detroit’s first game without starting guard TJ Lang. He got injured the week before when they conceded 10 sacks. They looked to have shored things up last Sunday by conceding just one sack to the Panthers.
Detroit were lucky last week as Carolina missed a few kicks and their bad secondary was a good matchup for Stafford and Golladay. The Bears are a very different proposition. Running back Kerryon Johnson is a massive loss for the Lions but at least in Riddick and Blount they have options, plan B isn’t a complete disaster. Marvin Jones is a loss as well – Stafford is going to need a few ‘nobodies’ to help move the chains; not ideal.
Against Chicago here is the fact they played the Sunday night game and now play the early game on Thursday, on the road. That’s a very short week! Whilst I’m not a fan of the injury hit Lions offense I like them here getting more than a field-goal head-start at home in what could be an ugly and low-scoring affair.
Washington Redskins (+7pts) v Dallas Cowboys
Cowboys against Indians on Thanksgiving. I’ve been pro-Washington and fading Dallas all season long and will not be changing now. The Redskins won this matchup back in week 7 and arrive here getting more than a touchdown. That’s generous. A lot has happened since week 7, let’s break down the key issues.
The Redskins lost their starting QB last week. However, Colt McCoy is not a massive downgrade on Alex Smith who wasn’t playing very well anyhow. It’s a conservative, run-heavy offense and McCoy knows it well having been on the roster since 2014. He looked ok last week when entering the game and has decent numbers on previous starts, admittedly most of which was in preseason games.
The Cowboys are coming in off the back of beating both Atlanta and Philadelphia. Traditionally good sides but both are drastically underperforming this year. The Eagles lost by 41pts a week after their Cowboys defeat and the Falcons (who played a very sloppy game v DAL) lost to the Browns the week before their Cowboys defeat! Prior to those victories the Cowboys were struggling at 3-5 through 8 games.
The Redskins have lost 2 of their last 3 (5-2 start before this) but all 3 were matchups against decent aerial attacks – TB, ATL and HOU. The Redskins defensive strength is stopping the run and it’s of more use to them here than in the past 3 games. Back in week 7 they held Zeke Elliott to a season low 33yds. This is a decent matchup against a now overrated opponent.
The Redskins offensive line has been riddled with injuries the past few weeks but get a small boost on Thursday with starting tackle Trent Williams returning after missing 3 games. Every bit of help here is massive as the Cowboys rush is terrific.
The Cowboys offense isn’t good. They started the season averaging less than 14pts over 3 games and over their last 4 have managed an average of 20pts. Sure the Redskins, with their backup QB and banged up OL, might not score much but asking this Dallas offense to cover 7pts is a tall ask in my opinion.
Atlanta Falcons (+12.5pts) at New Orleans Saints
The Saints have scored a minimum of 45pts in each of the past three weeks. They scored 43pts when these sides last met in week 3. They even scored 40pts and lost in week 1. How will the injury hit and underperforming Falcons defense get stops here?
The Falcons have only one good player in their secondary but he’ll be able to follow the Saints best receiver. Trufant can slowdown Michael Thomas. The returning Deion Jones will be a massive boost to stopping Alvin Kamara. Jones is a top line-backer. Without him the Falcons have been gutted by the run but his return should help considerably. Saints no2 receiver Tre’Quan Smith is also a little banged up so the Falcons should be happy with how these matchups look. Brees may struggle to score on every drive. He’ll need to put up a big score to cover 12pts against the Falcons. The Falcons offense has been very good this year and in a dome on a short travel spot is no issue at all.
The week 3 clash between these sides was dead-even. The Saints won by 6pts but it was in overtime; they won it on a coin-toss. Fast forward 8 weeks and the Falcons are in dire need of wins. To be honest their season is probably over but with 3 divisional games left the Falcons will still be trying hard. The Saints on the other hand are flying high, in no danger of dropping their playoff berth, and may take the Falcons for granted on a short week.
The league’s no.1 run defense is no good to the Saints here as the Falcons don’t run very often or very successfully so asking Matt Ryan to find Julio, Sanu and Ridley actually plays to the Falcons strengths.
Nine wins on the bounce and some massive blowouts, confidence in the Saints couldn’t be higher. When the Saints were at home to the Redskins the spread was 6.5pts. Last week at home to the Eagles it was 8.5pts. Just two weeks ago in Cincinnati it was 5.5pts. Getting 12.5pts with the Falcons offense on your side is a major overreaction to the cricket scores New Orleans have put up recently.
I guess I fancy the underdogs on Thanksgiving.
1pt treble: Falcons +12.5pts, Redskins +7pts, Lions +3.5pts – works out just over 6/1