Thanksgiving Thursday gives the sportsbook bosses more stress than one should have to endure in a day of rest and feast. It begins a four-day hopscotch through the next few days ending on Monday night when the Seahawks play at Washington as the final leg of many parlays.
Thursday’s NFL action starts with the Bears (-3, 41.5) at the Lions, then goes to the Raiders at Cowboys (-7.5, 51.5), and the night game will be the Bills (-6.5, 45.5) at Saints.
Generally speaking from this season's action trends, the average Joe hates the Lions, loves the Cowboys and they’re sour on the Saints.
How’s the action been?
“It’s been a little soft so far,” said Station Casinos VP Jason McCormick of his early Thanksgiving action, “but it’s somewhat expected with the question marks on players in each game.”
The local joints like Station Casinos 18 properties around Las Vegas neighborhoods are an absolute blast to be at on any holiday, but especially Thanksgiving where Dad’s pop in out throughout the day. It’s the guy going to get milk or butter at the store that takes a 20-minute detour into the sportsbook to get down some sweet plays and watch a bit of the game while staying away from the mother-in-law.
“What honey, you say we’re almost out of wine, yes, I’ll go,” the Dad will say and then time it perfectly for halftime betting. “Be back in a while.”
More on the player injuries in a bit, but first more on how the Thanksgiving weekend risk builds for the sportsbooks.
There will be Thanksgiving leftovers on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and how big the risk magnifies over each day depends on how the average bettor does on their NFL selections on Thursday.
If they go 3-0 ATS (against the spread) taking the favorites on Thursday, it’s a wipeout on the day with heavy risk daisy-chained over into the next four days.
That tidal wave of risk is impossible to stop unless the public loses all their sides on Thursday which rarely happens. Thanksgiving is usually break-even or a big loser for the sportsbooks. Surprisingly, the public has been on the mark with more winners than losers over the years.
So what does the public like Thursday?
Chicago at Detroit (12:30 p.m. ET)
“The Raiders will be our biggest need, and a Bears, Cowboys, Bills combo will lead to some huge Black Friday shopping for our guests,” McCormick said.
Needing the winless Lions this week might not be so bad for the house. First of all, the Bears will be starting back-up quarterback Andy Dalton as starter Justin Fields is out with rib issues.
Also, no defensive lineman Akeem Hicks for the Bears and No. 1 wide receiver Allen Robinson is ‘doubtful’.
Jared Goff is expected to return at QB for the Lions after missing last week’s 13-10 loss at Cleveland.
Detroit hasn’t won a game, but it's 6-4 against the spread ATS this season. The Bears are 5-2 in their last seven meetings with the Lions, including an Oct. 3 meeting the Bears won 24-14 at home.
There is some Lions money out there because the only 3-flat left is at the South Point that uses exclusively flat numbers. Circa Sports and the Las Vegas SuperBook are both Bears -3 EVEN while Caesars sportsbooks are -3 -105.
Las Vegas at Dallas (4:30 p.m. ET)
The Raiders have a banged-up offensive line but the pressing issue Thursday is the Raiders on a short week trying to stop a three-game losing streak (0-3 ATS). The Cowboys have been bet from -7 to -7.5 but have some problems with their top two receivers.
CeeDee Lamb is ‘questionable’ (concussion) while Amari Cooper is out with COVID-19 protocols. The defensive line also has some injuries with linemen Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence dealing with leg issues.
The Cowboys have lost two of their last three, but are 6-1 ATS in their last seven home games.
The Cowboys are 8-2 ATS this season, but those two non-covers happened recently which should be cause for debate before betting the game.
New Orleans at Buffalo (8:20 p.m. ET)
And the last game of the night that could potentially be an all-way loss for the house if the Bears and Cowboys cover is the Bills against a banged-up Saints squad in New Orleans.
The Bills No. 1 defense got roasted last week 41-15 by the Colts last week and it was at Buffalo.
The Bills are now 6-4 and 5-4-1 ATS and have lost three of their last five games and it appears that the 2-8 Jaguars was the team that solved the Rubik's cube that was once the potent Bills offensive attack.
Saying the Colts dominated the Bills is an understatement, especially when you look at the 264 rushing yards that Indianapolis posted. Plus, Buffalo had four turnovers.
Make a note that the Saints have lost three straight and Trevor Siemian is still starting at QB while the running back Mark Ingram (knee) is ‘questionable’ and superstar RB Alvin Kamara (knee) is expected to be ‘out’ again.
A bet on the home team is a bet on the strength of the Saints, the defense that allows only 342 ypg. The SuperBook opened the Bills -6.5 and it’s down to -6, but most of the small tickets are on the Bills.
Good luck with all your selections this week and may you and your family have a great Thanksgiving.