NFL Thanksgiving Odds, Preview: Three Big Favourites On Thursday’s Three-Game Slate

Those of a certain age will remember when watching NFL games any time other than a Sunday was a rare invitation to gather around the TV. 

Taking in Monday Night Football with its glitzy production values (which now seem Paleozoic) and its trash-talking superstars (in the broadcast booth alone) was an event no sports fan wanted to miss. 

U.S. Thanksgivings meant the Cowboys and Lions on Thursday and, often, games that were perfect for sleeping off a heavy meal.

With a gluttony of entertainment on demand, the NFL, always keen for the next dollar, realized it was time to up its game. So, the only days you won’t see NFL action this season are Tuesdays and Wednesdays now that the league is officially ushering in its first “Black Friday,” game this week, which could be a good descriptor for Jets’ fans by the time it’s over.

Overkill, you wonder? Well, what lover of NFL-betting action is going to complain about football to consume – and backdoor covers to complain about – in three of the next four days? So, let’s embark on our first course: Thursday’s trifecta of potentially lopsided games:

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (-8.5) 12:30 p.m. ET

While the Packers have tended to dominate this rivalry over the years, much of that footage is stored in a musty archive somewhere. The Lions have won four straight games in this series and they have a chance to make it their longest run of dominance over Green Bay since an 11-game streak that ended in 1954. That’s good enough motivation right there.

If Green Bay were a bit healthier, this may have proven a bit more interesting, but running back Aaron Jones has a knee injury that makes him highly unlikely to play and tight end Luke Musgrave is expected to sit it out as well.

Detroit’s defence is better than advertised, with edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson wreaking havoc with more than 15 sacks and four interceptions in his first two seasons (the first NFL player to pull that off). Plus, they’re starting to run the ball well with Dave Montgomery behind a good offensive line. Detroit should control this one. It’s just a matter of how many points they put up.

Suggested wager: If you’re not interested in laying that many points, consider an alternative approach. If Detroit gets ahead, Green Bay (barely in the playoff picture) might get a bit desperate. That could convince (or force) the coaches to trust quarterback Jordan Love a bit more than they normally would.

That and the lack of running game open up two possibilities: passing yards and interceptions. Love is coming off the first 300-yard throwing performance by a Green Bay QB in nearly two years, so over 226.5 passing yards (at -110) seems reasonable here, as does over-0.5 Love interceptions (at -180).

Bet on Packers vs. Lions

GB +8.5
DET -8.5

Washington Commanders at Dallas Cowboys (-13.5) 4:30 p.m. ET

The ‘boys have been a source of much acid reflux over the years, particularly for those who bet on them in Thanksgiving games. They are riding a 1-11 run against the spread in their last 12 turkey day games, reason enough to lay off them when giving that many points to a division rival.

The offseason spread for this game was Dallas -6.5 which might give something of an indication of the overall strength of these teams’ rosters. Based on this season, the spread would have been higher than that even if Dallas hadn’t pounded the Carolina Panthers 33-10 and the Commanders hadn’t been embarrassed by an awful New York Giants team last week. But remember, divisional games just hit different. The Giants have tended to own the Commanders, having not lost to them since their second game of the 2021 season when they went by a different name.

Dallas is 4-0 ATS at home and has handled weak foes all year, but this line might be a bridge too far.

Suggested wager: The Cowboys put on a good show on their own fast track, having topped the team total in 22 of their last 30 home games. And the Commanders seem impotent to stop them, with a defence that ranks 30th in DVOA and just gave up 24 points to an offence run by someone named Tommy DeVito. Instead of giving all those points, though, consider banking on Sam Howell to put up a watchable show, even against Dallas’s tough defence. That last effort against New York may have been an anomaly, as this Washington unit put up 29 points on the Seattle Seahawks and 31 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Lean over 48.5 points.

Bet on Commanders vs. Cowboys

WSH +13.5
DAL -13.5

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (+7) 8:20 p.m. ET

What a weird team the 49ers have been this season. First came the scathing 5-0 start when they looked like the best team in the NFL. Then came a mid-season slump, perhaps brought on by injuries to key skill players, that had them looking downright awful at times in a three-game losing streak to Cleveland, Minnesota and Cincinnati. Then came sanity-restoring romps over Jacksonville and Tampa Bay the past two weeks that have them looking just as dangerous as ever.

Seahawks fans got good news this week when head coach Pete Carroll announced that Geno Smith will play in this one after he injured his triceps last week in a frustrating loss at L.A. He might, in fact, have some opportunities to score points if he can withstand the 49ers vicious pass rush as All-Pro safety Talanoa Hufonga is out for the season with a torn knee ligament. The Seahawks might be forced to rely more than usual on Smith to elude trouble and connect with his receivers since running back Kenneth Walker is out for a few weeks with an oblique injury.

Division games like this are hard to handicap. The 49ers have won three in a row in the series, but Seattle won four in a row before that.

Suggested wager: News that Smith would play wasn’t greeted by a massive move on the total here, which ticked up from 43.5 to 44. Smith is used to not gaining much respect, but at times he has had this unit humming along decently enough, scoring 20, 24 and 29 points in three of the last five games. Meanwhile, the 49ers are the NFL’s most efficient offence and shouldn’t have much trouble moving the ball against a Seattle defence that gave up 37 points and almost 300 yards rushing to the Baltimore Ravens a few weeks ago. Lean over 44.

Bet on 49ers vs. Seahawks

SF -7
SEA +7