- At 7-3 against the spread this season and riding a four-game winning streak, Chicago is a strong bet to win and cover once again on Turkey Day in Detroit.
Thanksgiving means not one, but three Thursday NFL games with the Lions and Cowboys hosting division rivals in the afternoon, and the red-hot Saints facing the Falcons in the nightcap. Here are the best betting plays for Thursday's slate of games.
Chicago Bears (-4) at Detroit Lions
12:30 p.m. ET
The Bears come to the Thanksgiving Day kickoff game on a roll, having won four straight games both straight up and against the spread. Chicago's win streak hasn't exactly come against stiff competition, though: The Vikings, who the Bears defeated 25-20 on Sunday as 2.5-point favorites, are the only team Chicago has beaten during the run with a winning record. But the streak also includes a win over the Lions less than two weeks ago. Chicago was a seven-point favorite when it hosted Detroit and went on to win by 12.
In recent seasons, however, the Lions have fared much better against the Bears when playing at home. Detroit is 5-0 straight up in its last five games against Chicago at Ford Field, and 6-2 against the spread in its last eight home games against its division rival. The Lions have also been strong against the spread in their traditional Thanksgiving game, going 5-1 ATS in their last six Turkey Day contests. Still, it's hard to see the Bears not covering here. They have the NFL's best run defense (77.8 yards allowed per game and the third-best D overall (314.4 YPG), and will be facing the league's 20th-ranked scoring offense (22.2 PPG).
Pick: Chicago (-4)
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-7.5)
Losing a starting quarterback for the season is never good. And the gruesome injury to Washington's Alex Smith, who broke two bones in his right leg in last Sunday's loss to the Houston Texans, is clearly playing a big factor in the size of the spread in this matchup against the Cowboys. But let's not forget that another NFC East team lost its starting QB to a season-ending injury last season and went on to win the Super Bowl. Jumping to make comparisons between the Eagles' Nick Foles and Washington backup-now-starter Colt McCoy is certainly premature, but the Redskins don't exactly need lights-out quarterback play to cover such a large spread on Thursday. McCoy almost led Washington to a comeback win against Houston after coming in for Smith and should be serviceable in the Redskins' ball control-focused offensive scheme. Riding a winning streak for the first time all season, Dallas certainly has momentum on its side heading into this game where the balance of power in the division hangs in the balance. But while Dallas may seem likely to pull out the win, covering this big of a spread will be difficult. In Dallas' last 10 home games in which it was favored by between 7 and 10 points, the Cowboys are just 1-9 ATS.
Pick: Washington (+7.5)
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (-13)
It's almost hard to remember the Saints team that needed overtime to get past the Falcons 43-37 in Week 3. Back then, New Orleans had lost its opener to the Buccaneers and only defeated the lowly Browns by a field goal. In the Saints' seven wins since then, their average margin of victory has been 19.7 points. New Orleans is riding a streak of eight straight ATS victories that started with its win over Atlanta. It's worth noting that while the Saints have handily blown out most of their opponents, they have not been favored by this many points all season. The closest they came was in Week 1 and 2 against Tampa Bay and Cleveland when New Orleans was favored by 10 and 9.5 points respectively and failed to cover in both. The Falcons, though, have been awful against the spread, going 3-7 this season. Atlanta has showed an ability to put up points, scoring 30 or more in half of its games this season, but after back-to-back losses to Cleveland (yes, Cleveland) and Dallas, it's unlikely that the Falcons will get things figured out on a short week in Drew Brees's house.
Pick: Saints (-13)