Thanksgiving is the best day of the entire year in America, and that is an objective fact. This is the case because it combines the four best non-sexual things on the planet. In no particular order (okay, maybe in particular order), those things are large quantities of food, all the booze you can drink, loved ones, and football.
And where there is football, there is the fifth best thing on the planet: gambling. And boy is there some good gambling to be had on Thanksgiving day, with three good NFL games to look forward to, and prop bets to go with those games. Let's break them down, shall we?
We'll start with those prop bets, which Bovada threw together to give you something else to pay attention to while your drunk uncle relentlessly unleashes his Hot Ferguson Takes at the dinner table.
- Stafford: 2/1
- Sanchez: 5/2
- Romo: 7/2
- Cutler: 5/1
- Kaepernick: 7/1
- Wilson: 12/1
This is a tough one, only because one game features two potent offenses, while another features a team with great receiving weapons who could be mitigated by the league's stingiest defense.
Obviously Kaepernick and Wilson are to be ruled out immediately here, but the other four competitors are in play. Cutler will struggle against Detroit's great defense, while Sanchez and Romo will sabotage one another by keeping the ball.
As little fun as it is to play a favorite, Stafford is probably the best choice here by virtue of the number of possessions Detroit's defense will afford him and the fact that his offense will have a good day against a Chicago defense that has struggled against any good teams.
- Murray: EVEN
- McCoy: 3/1
- Lynch: 5/1
- Forte: 7/1
- Joique Bell: 10/1
- Gore: 12/1
- Wilson: 18/1
- Kaepernick: 25/1
While DeMarco Murray is the guy everyone will assume is the play here, he is anything but, thanks to a Philadelphia defense that is top ten in DVOA against the run and yards against per rush attempt. So don't bet on him here.
Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez played like absolute garbage in the Eagles' last game against a professional football team, as Tennessee is just a UFL team that nobody has kicked out of the league yet. This makes Philly's running game vital to its success tomorrow. Throw in the fact that Dallas is 18th in DVOA against the run this season, the worst of any team playing on Thanksgiving, and LeSean McCoy looks real good at 3/1 odds.
- Calvin Johnson: 7/2
- Golden Tate: 7/2
- Dez Bryant: 9/2
- Jeremy Maclin: 5/1
- Alshon Jeffrey: 7/1
- Brandon Marshall: 9/1
- Anquan Boldin: 10/1
- Matt Forte: 14/1
- Michael Crabtree: 14/1
- Jordan Matthews: 15/1
- Doug Baldwin: 33/1
The top two pass defenses in the league by DVOA are the Lions and Niners, so rule out Baldwin and the Bears here instantly. And while Calvin Johnson looks like a good bet against a Bears defense that is the worst of the Thanksgiving day bunch against the pass, pass on him too.
Dallas is allowing 7.4 yards per pass attempt this season, just 0.2 yards per attempt better than the Bears' weak defense. Jeremy Maclin is Philly's deep threat and big play producer at wide receiver. If you're looking for more value than Megatron in this spot, Maclin is worth a shot.
This prop is asking whether or not all three games will go over their respective totals, and offering +600 odds at that. The totals are as follows.
- Bears/Lions: 47.5
- Eagles/Cowboys: 54.5
- Seahawks/Niners: 39.5
There is no betting option if you think any of the games will go under, just this three line over parlay at +600. One of these games will go under, so just leave this alone.
Now, let's get to the games themselves and pick some sides.
Bears +7 over LIONS
You know, for all of the weapons both of these teams boast on offense, they sure are trash at throwing the football. Chicago is 24th in yards per pass attempt, while Detroit isn't much better at 22nd.
Granted, Detroit's defense is light years ahead of Chicago's, as Detroit is first in DVOA and Chicago is 23rd, but the Lions don't score enough points to warrant laying a touchdown. They haven't defeated a team by seven points since week six against the Vikings, who were pretty deep in the whole Adrian Peterson thing at the time. Chicago probably won't win, but it's prudent to take a touchdown with them here.
COWBOYS -3 over Eagles
Dallas is gaining nearly a full yard per carry more than the Eagles so far this year, and are in the top six in DVOA on offense, pass offense DVOA, and rush defense DVOA. Philly, meanwhile, is a middle of the road team in those three categories.
By the way, Tony Romo is second in the NFL in yards per pass attempt. I know that DeMarco Murray is tearing it up this season, but Romo should get serious consideration for the league's MVP this year.
Mark Sanchez also boasts a solid yards per attempt figure, but those numbers are aided by both a four game sample size and the fact that three of his four games have come against Tennessee, Carolina, and Houston, with the fourth coming against a Green Bay team that made that game garbage time in the second quarter.
Seahawks +1.5 over 49ERS
San Francisco is ranked second in the NFL in DVOA on defense, but is 10th in that category against the run. The Niners are also 13th in the league in yards against per rush, which really isn't sufficient against this Seahawks team.
Seattle is first in the league in DVOA running the ball, and are first in yards for per rush, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. That's a full half yard better than the second best team in that category, the Dallas Cowboys. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch have been such destructive forces that employing multiple tackling dummies at wide receiver hasn't slowed them down.
And it's not as if this Seattle team pretends that it isn't looking to run the ball the majority of the time. Russell Wilson's 313 pass attempts are 20th most in the NFL. Meanwhile, he has 84 rush attempts through 11 games, only 12 fewer than his highest single season total of his pro career (96 last season).
All of this is to say that offenses know that Seattle is looking to run, even when they drop back to pass, and that defenses still can't stop them from doing so.
Despite their early season struggles, the Seahawks are playing unbelievably well in recent weeks. While people continue to sleep on them, there is no reason to believe they won't keep up the good work.
Folks, before I go drink 1,000 beers this weeks, I wanted to say that I'm thankful for all of you. Whether you read this dumbass blog frequently, or we shoot the breeze on Twitter sometimes, or we actually know each other in real life, your presence in my life is appreciated. Have a great Thanksgiving, and please update me on how your bets hold up and how many drinks you put down.
Last Week: 7-8
2014 NFL ATS: 95-79-1 (54.6%)