Due to the Thanksgiving Day slate this Thursday, bettors will be able to lock and load early in Week 12. We’ll recap last week’s action and go over the rest of the slate in our weekly Total Talk installment on Saturday. For now, let’s break down the three games on tap.
Houston at Detroit: The first game on the board isn’t an easy one and you could make sound arguments for either the ‘over’ or the ‘under.’ The opening line was 48 ½ and it’s been steamed up to 50 ½ at most outfits. Most gamblers have short-term memory and Houston’s 43-37 overtime win last Sunday over Jacksonville is probably in their head. Quarterback Matt Schaub and wide receiver Andre Johnson both had career days for the Texans, yet they only put up 43 and nine of those points came in the extra session. What was very surprising was the play of Houston’s defense, which was diced up by Jaguars QB Chad Henne. Keep in mind that Henne did most of his damage on three plays, two of them going for long touchdowns (67, 81 yards). Fortunately for the Texans, they won’t be playing a consistent attack this week. Detroit looks like it has firepower on paper with QB Matthew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson, but this offense lacks a running game and any rhythm. At home, the Lions are averaging 24 points per game. If there is hope for Detroit’s offense to get going, you can look at its outputs against AFC South clubs. The Lions put up 41 against the Titans and 31 against the Jaguars this season, which was the two highest point totals for them this season. Despite the bad performance last week, the Texans’ defense is still ranked fourth in the league (299 YPG, 18 PPG) and they’ve stepped up on the road, allowing a total of 55 points in four games. After scoring 27 and 31 in its first two road games, Houston has only mustered up 23 and 13 the past two outings as visitors.
On Thanksgiving, Detroit has watched the ‘under’ produce a 7-3 mark the past 10 seasons. The Lions have also lost nine of those games during that span.
Washington at Dallas: After watching its first four games of the season go ‘over’ the number, the Redskins have seen the ‘under’ rebound with a 5-1 mark in the last six games. Washington saw some 50-point totals posted early, which was a little surprising when you have a rookie quarterback (Robert Griffin III) under center. RG3 has proven to be effective, but the main reason for the high numbers is the Redskins defense, which is playing with crutches. Washington was hurt by the injury bug again last week as the unit lost safety Brandon Meriweather (knee) for the season. Also, the leader of the defense, linebacker London Fletcher (ankle), is ‘questionable’ too.
Dallas was hoping to get running back DeMarco Murray (foot) back in the lineup but his status is ‘doubtful’ for Thursday. That’s probably a good thing if you’re leaning ‘over’ because the Cowboys will most likely let Tony Romo attack an already decimated secondary if he can stay on his feet. Similar to Detroit, the ‘Boys look explosive on paper but the results aren’t there because the offensive line isn’t great. The best outing was 38 points against Philadelphia a couple weeks ago, and 21 came from the defense and special teams.
Last year, the total spilt in the two regular season meetings between the pair as they combined for 34 and 51 points. The total opened at 47 for this game and was bet up to 48. Dallas watched last year’s holiday matchup go ‘under’ in its win over Miami (20-19). The one thing you can say about the ‘Boys on Thanksgiving is that they do score and put on a show. It’s been 11 years since Dallas has been held under 20 points on Turkey Day.
New England at N.Y. Jets: This number opened at 50 ½ and is now being offered anywhere between 48 and 49 points, depending where you shop. Considering the Patriots can get to this number themselves, it’s certainly hard to argue an ‘under’ play here. New England’s offense leads the league in points scored (35.8) and yards (431.9) and the defense is starting to turn be opportunistic as well. Last week, the Pats ripped the Colts 59-24 and 21 of the points came from a pair of pick-six touchdowns and a punt return. After seeing the first two games of the season go 'under' the Pats have watched the 'over' cash in eight straight weeks.
Offensively, the Pats high-powered attack will be missing a key part this week against the Jets. Tight end Rob Gronkowski injured his forearm in last week’s win over the Colts. He’s out this week and possibly a few more games as well. Fortunately for the Pats, TE Aaron Hernandez is expected to return from an ankle injury. The offensive line also has some key injuries, in particular Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly. You couldn’t tell they missed last week’s game against Indy, who has a much better pass rush than the Jets.
New York gave New England a scare in mid-October, but fell short in a 29-26 defeat. QB Mark Sanchez played well (328 yards, 68%) in the loss despite having limited receivers and no running game. Including the first meeting this season, the ‘over’ has now cashed in six straight in this series.
The last few weeks of Total Talk, we’ve been hitting on rematch games between divisional opponents. So far this season, the ‘over’ has gone 8-2 (80%) when teams meet in the second divisional battle. Before you run to the counter and bang the ‘over’ on this game, make a note that the ‘under’ has gone 24-10 (71%) in games played in primetime slots this season. Lastly, since the NFL added a third game on Thanksgiving Day during the 2006 season, the ‘under’ has gone 4-2 in the six installments, including three in a row.
If you’re reading this piece, then you’re probably betting and for that, we say be thankful that you can. As always, Press, Pass or Fade but in the end - Good Luck and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Best Over: Washington-Dallas 48
Best Under: Houston-Detroit 50 1/2
Best Team Total: Over Dallas 25 1/2
Three-Team Total Teaser (9-Point, +100):
Over Washington-Dallas 39
Under Houston-Detroit 59 ½
Under New England-N.Y. Jets 57
Chris David can be reached at email@example.com