Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM

Total Talk - Thanksgiving

It’s time to talk Thanksgiving totals, and we have an interesting trio of games on tap for your holiday viewing pleasure. Two of the three matchups are divisional matchups, as well as rematches, sandwiching a very intriguing AFC vs. NFC battle in the middle window. Through 58 divisional contests played in this year’s regular season, the ’under’ holds a 31-27. In the two earlier divisional matchups featuring Thursday’s combatants, the ‘under’ hit in both of the first installments.

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

These teams met back in Week 10 at Soldier Field in Chicago with the Bears posting a 20-13 victory over Detroit. The under (38) never seemed to be threatened in that one despite the fact Chicago quarterback Mitchell Trubisky actually looked like an effective passer in that game. He tossed a season-best three touchdowns passes, easily besting QB Jeff Driskel, who is still filling in for the injured QB Matthew Stafford (back). While Trubisky threw for just 193 yards, his three touchdowns and no interceptions was easily his best ratio in that department, and his 131.0 QB rating was a season high.

The Bears enter this matchup on a 5-0 under run, as the offense continues to look rather slow and methodical, while the defense does its job more often than not. In other words, Chicago Bears football in a nutshell. Since a 25-point outburst, if you can call it that, against the Saints in Week 7, which happened to come after two weeks of studying and a bye, the Bears have posted totals of 16, 14, 20, 7 and 19. The defense was shredded for 36 in that Saints game, and that was by QB Teddy Bridgewater, by the way. Since, they have righted the ship with totals allowed of 17, 22, 13, 17 and 14. Again, Bears football.

There is no reason to believe anything will be different than the first meeting, as the Lions just cannot seem to get out of their own way. They’re coming off of a disappointing 19-16 loss at Washington last week, and many in the Twittersphere are calling for the Ford Family to pull the plug on the Matt Patricia experiment. Others are calling for boycotts of the Lions until they start winning. If that’s the case, Ford Field might be empty for a while.

The Lions had a potent passing attack under Stafford earlier in the season, going for 24 or more points in six of the first eight games, and 27 or more points on five occasions during the span. Since it was discovered Stafford had tiny fractures in his lower back. Driskel has taken over for three games and the results have not been good. While they did hoist up 27 points in a loss to Dallas in Week 11, they had the 13-point effort in Chicago and just the 16 points last week in D.C. The under is 2-1 in Driskel’s three assignments to date. It should be noted that Driskel is dealing with a hamstring injury which limited him in practice both Monday and Tuesday, although Monday’s status was just an estimation. In any event, if he cannot go it would be former Purdue signal called David Blough, engineer of the Ohio State upset last season, getting his first NFL start.

Overall Detroit has posted 378.5 total yards per game to rank ninth in the NFL, but most of that damage was down with a healthy Stafford. They’re just 18th in rushing yards per game, and 11th in points scored (23.6) and tumbling hard. Defensively they are just 29th in the league with 396.2 total yards per game allowed while yielding 275.5 passing yards per contest. They’re also 24th in rushing yards per game yielded at 120.7.

The under is a perfect 6-0 in Chicago’s past six inside the division, and 13-3 in the past 16 games overall. That includes a 5-2 mark in the past seven on the road, too. For Detroit, the over has hit in four straight at home, but the under is 5-1 in the past six inside the NFC North. The under has connected in six of the past eight meetings in this series, too.

This total opened 41 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and it's down to 38 as of Wednesday morning with one-sided action on the under.

Buffalo at Dallas (CBS, 4:30 p.m. ET)

The total for this game opened 45 and held steady before slipping ever so briefly to 44.5, but then it rose back to 45.5 and 46. You can likely continue to expect some fluctuation based upon the low-scoring total the Cowboys posted last week in New England, and based upon sensible bettors understanding Dallas was facing the No. 1 defense in the NFL in the rain and slop, and not to discard their offense too much. Statistically and records-wise, this should be the best matchup of the holiday.

The Bills hit the under in each of their first five games this season, and were actually the last NFL team to see an over result cash in 2019. While the over is 3-3 across the past six games for Buffalo since that 5-0 under run, keep in mind that two of their games came against the defensively-challenged Miami Dolphins, as Buffalo averaged 34.0 PPG in those two contests. Take the two Dolphins games out of the equation and the under is 8-1 for Buffalo in 2019.

The Cowboys haven’t beaten a team above .500 all season, going 0-4 straight up and 1-3 against the spread while splitting the over/under in four outings against winning sides. Meanwhile, the Bills have relished the opportunity to go on the road, going 4-1 SU and 4-0-1 ATS while the under has produced a 4-1 mark. Again, the outlier here was a Nov. 17 trip to Miami where they dropped a season-high 37. In their other four roadies the Bills mustered 17, 28, 14 and 16. While coughing up 16, 14, 7 and 19.

Buffalo’s defense has had it on lockdown all season, ranking third in the NFL in total yards allowed (288.6), passing yards allowed (184.3) and points allowed (15.7). Offensively they have managed to rank a very middling 18th in total yards (352.7) on offense, while posting just 213.5 yards per game through the air to rank 24th. In three games against the NFC East the Bills are averaging 21.7 PPG while yielding 18.0 PPG.

Despite a nary nine points last week in the muck at Foxboro, the Cowboys still rank No. 1 in total yards per game (433.4) on offense and No. 1 in passing yards (303.5). They’re also sixth in the league with 26.8 PPG. Defensively they rank seventh with 19.1 PPG allowed. At home, the Pokes have posted 35, 31, 24, 37 and 24, so the Bills defense likely will have its hands full. Defensively, Dallas is allowed 17, 6, 24, 10 and 28 in five home games, a huge array.

For what it’s worth, the last time these teams met it was a 16-6 Dallas victory back on Dec. 27, 2015. Another note, the Cowboys have scored 31 points in their last four wins on Thanksgiving Day but just 6, 14 and 10 points in their losses. The Team Total on the Cowboys for tomorrow is hovering between 26 and 27.

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

The oddsmakers are expecting this game to be the highest-scoring battle on the three-game Thanksgiving slate. Of course, they expected that in the first game, too, and the Saints laid an absolute egg. Back in Week 10 the Falcons won outright as 14-point underdogs, shocking New Orleans in a 26-9 stunner. The nine points tied a season low for NOLA, and it marked just the second time the Saints high-octane offense was held out of the end zone this season, and first time with QB Drew Brees under center for an entire game (he left the Week 2 game at L.A. Rams early due to injury).

For the 14th season the NFL features a night game on Thanksgiving Day (can you believe it’s been that long?) and the under has connected in each of the past five seasons, with the low side 9-4 overall. Last season’s Thanksgiving Day game featured a total of 61.5, but these teams never threatened that in a 31-17 win by the Saints under the protection of their dome in the Big Easy.

The loss to the Falcons in Week 10 seems to have served as a wake-up call for the Saints, as they have hit 34 points on offense in each of their past two outings, a pair of ‘over’ results inside the division at Tampa Bay and home to Carolina in a game the Saints probably should have lost 34-31 if the Panthers had a reliable kicker. The over is 3-1 in the four divisional games so far for the Saints, and 3-1 in their past four games on the road, too. The Saints have posted 33, 13, 36 and 34 in their past four away from home.

Atlanta has been a Jekyll & Hyde team, and those type of teams are maddening to bettors. They allowed 28, 20, 27, 24, 53, 34, 37 and 27 through their first eight games. So, naturally, everyone expected the Saints to steamroll them with a cornucopia of offense, but they allowed just nine points on the road. Then, the Falcons topped by stuffing Christian McCaffrey and the Panthers in a 29-3 drumming in Charlotte. Naturally, they’d keep it up at home against turnover-prone Jameis Winston and the Bucs last week. Nah, they were trucked for 35. Who will show up this week?

The total is hovering around 48.5 and 49 points as of Wednesday, depending on the shop, and that’s a little less than the first meeting. That’s likely based on the trends of these teams lately, as well as in this season. The under is 7-0-1 in the past eight appearances for New Orleans on a Thursday, and 9-2 in their past 11 against teams with an overall losing record. The under is 4-1 in Atlanta’s past five, and 3-1-1 in their past five Thursday showings. The under is also 4-1 in the past five meetings, and 7-3 in the past 10 battles between the Georgia Dome and the Mercedes-Benz Dome in downtown Atlanta.

We've see the under go 7-5 in the night spot on Thursday's this season and that includes a 5-2 mark to the low side in divisional games. 

Fearless Predictions

As Chris David has 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: New Orleans-Atlanta 49
Best Under: Buffalo-Dallas 46
Best Team Total: Under Detroit 18.5

Three-Team Total Teaser (+7.5, +105):
Under 53.5 Buffalo-Dallas
Over 41.5 New Orleans-Atlanta
Under 45.5 Chicago-Detroit

Joe Williams can be reached at [email protected]

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