Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:01 AM

Total Talk - Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Trends | FREE Picks | Matchup Index

This year’s Thanksgiving Day slate will feature three NFC divisional games and all of them happen to be rematches as well. Through 48 divisional contests played in this year’s regular season, the ‘under’ holds a 46-42 mark and those results have seen a lot of back-and-forth streaks.

Chicago at Detroit (CBS, 12:30 p.m. ET)

[...] sent out a total of 46 ½ and the number is listed at 43 ½ as of Wednesday afternoon. The reason for the drop is directly related to Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who is listed as ‘doubtful’ with a shoulder injury. If doesn’t go, backup Chase Daniel will be the guy and he’s only had two career starts, both coming in meaningless Week 17 games during his tenure with Kansas City.

These teams just met in Week 10 from Soldier Field and Chicago captured a 34-22 wire-to-wire win and the ‘over’ (44 ½) cashed midway through the fourth quarter. The Bears built a 26-7 lead at halftime and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky had one of his best games, completing 23-of-30 (77%) of his passes for 355 passing yards and three touchdowns.  Chicago couldn’t run the ball (54 yards) on Detroit and knowing Daniel will likely get touches, you would believe that favors the Lions defense.

At the same time, it’s hard to imagine Detroit doing anything against Chicago’s defense (19.5 PPG, 314 YPG) and it couldn’t muster up much against the Bears in the first game. However, Lions QB Matthew Stafford aka “Stat Padford” did what he’s good at and compiled meaningless numbers late to make the game seem closer than it appeared.

Fast forward to Thursday’s rematch and Chicago enters this game with a 6-1 ‘over’ run but a couple of those tickets could’ve gone the other way, which includes last week’s meeting on Sunday Night vs. Minnesota. Also, the Bears have seen the ‘over’ go 3-1 on the road this season but again – the high side winners were fortunate to connect in all of those games.

Detroit enters this game on a 3-1 ‘under’ run and its sputtering offense (16.3 PPG) has played a part in those results. While the Lions were outgained (387-309) last week to the Panthers, the defense did play a lot better and they controlled the clock behind running back Kerryon Johnson (knee) but he’s ‘doubtful’ to play on the short week. Knowing Chicago leads the league in rushing defense (77.8 YPG) and the unit has only allowed two rushing touchdowns this season makes you believe Detroit could have issues on Thursday.

Prior to the first meeting this season, the ‘under’ was on a 4-1 run in this series and Chicago has had trouble scoring at Ford Field with just 10 and 17 in its last two trips to Michigan.

Washington at Dallas (FOX, 4:30 p.m. ET)

This total is hovering between 40 and 41 points as of Wednesday and most bettors are showing a slight lean to the ‘under’ in the late afternoon matchup. Washington and Dallas both enter this game with identical 6-4 ‘under’ records and that includes the outcome from their Week 7 outcome. The Redskins captured a 20-17 win over the Cowboys in a game that was tied 7-7 at halftime. The ‘over’ (40 ½) had a shot but Dallas missed a late field goal that would’ve forced overtime.

Neither team did much offensively and the Redskins will be turning to backup QB Colt McCoy after Alex Smith was knocked out for the season last week with a leg injury. The former Texas Longhorns standout has gone 16-21 as a starter in his career and he hasn’t suited up in that role since 2014. Ironically, his last win as a starter came at Dallas and the Redskins won 20-17 behind some quality numbers (25-of-33, 299 yards) from McCoy. Will the Lone Star kid steal the show again on the holiday?

Buying that narrative is tough for a couple reasons. First, the Redskins have no major offensive weapons outside of tight end Jordan Reed. Second, this Dallas defense (331 YPG, 19 PPG) is legit especially against the run (95 YPG). The Cowboys unit also fits into the ‘bend but don’t break’ style and they’ve often forced teams into settling for field goals (17) instead of touchdowns (19).

Expecting the Dallas offense (20.3 PPG) to light up the scoreboard could be wishful thinking but it has shown better numbers at home (25 PPG) and this Redskins defense isn't in great form. Tampa Bay lit them up for 501 total yards at home in Week 10 and Atlanta put up 491 yards at FedEx Field in Week 9. Houston, not a great offensive team, was held in check last week by Washington but I'm still weary to expect a quick fix. The Cowboys have seen the ‘over’ go 3-1 AT&T Stadium.

Prior to the ‘under’ result earlier this season, the ‘over’ was on a 5-0 run in this series and one of those outcomes took place on Thanksgiving Day in 2016 with Dallas earning a 31-26 over Washington.

Atlanta at New Orleans (NBC, 8:20 p.m. ET)

Oddsmakers are expecting a shootout in the late-night tilt from the Superdome and before we look at the matchup, be aware that this primetime slot on the holiday hasn’t produced the fireworks that some may’ve hoped for.

This will be the 13th season that the NFL will have a night game on Thanksgiving Day and the 'under' has cashed the last four years and the low side is 8-4 overall. For those playing sides, home teams have gone 8-4 while favorites own a 10-2 straight up and 9-3 against the spread mark. Also, nine of the 12 margins came by double digits.

Another blowout is expected this season with New Orleans listed as a 13-point home favorite. When the pair met in Week 3 from Atlanta, the Saints dropped the Falcons 43-37 in overtime as 1 ½-point road underdogs. The ‘over’ (54) was never in doubt and the combined 80 points was the highest ever posted in this series.

The rematch is starting at a total of 60, which seems inflated but nobody has been able to stop the Saints (37.8 PPG) this season. Plus, the team has posted 48 PPG in their last three games. While New Orleans has been on fire, Atlanta’s offense (17.5) has been anything but in its last two games and their numbers on the road (20.8 PPG) have been ugly. If you take out a 38-point effort at Washington in Week 9, the average falls to 15 points per game on the road.

After seeing 80 points posted in the first encounter, my handicapping usually reverts to the opposite outcome in the second go ‘round. While that can be dangerous for this particular matchup and we’ve seen a slew of ‘over’ winners on Thursday (8-3) this season, I’d be very surprised to see another crooked number posted again.  Make a note that we’ve seen these teams play on Thursday’s twice in the past three seasons and the ‘under’ cashed in both games (20-17, 31-21).

Fearless Predictions

As I’ve written many times before in previous holiday installments, if you’re reading this then you’re probably betting and for that, 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 40 ½
Best Under: Atlanta-New Orleans 60
Best Team Total: Under Chicago 23 ½

Three-Team Total Teaser (+7.5, +105):
Under 51 Chicago-Detroit
Over 33 Washington-Dallas
Under 67 ½ Atlanta-New Orleans

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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