NFL Thanksgiving Day Betting Picks: Predictions For Bills Vs. Lions, Giants Vs. Cowboys, and Patriots Vs. Vikings

Week 12 is a special one with three Thanksgiving Day games. Get betting picks & predictions for the Bills Vs. Lions, Giants Vs. Cowboys, and Patriots Vs. Vikings.

NFL Week 12 Thanksgiving Day Betting Picks

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s a tradition unlike any other – sitting back, enjoying time with the family, and betting on the NFL. As always, please bet responsibly, but make sure to enjoy this delightful three-game slate. In this article, I’ll be analyzing each of the three matchups in detail. I only have an official play on the spread in one of the games, but I have a few player props that I love, and you can find those on our NFL Player Props page.

NFL YTD: 100-77 (56.5%)

Buffalo Bills at Detroit Lions

Don’t look now, but the Lions have momentum. They are riding a three-game win streak over quality opponents in the Packers, Bears, and Giants. Detroit’s defense is still problematic as they rank 25th in overall DVOA and 31st in EPA, but they’ve been better over the past handful of weeks.

In fact, the Lions are ranked 19th in overall defensive EPA since Week 7 when you remove garbage time. During that span, the Bills are ranked 15th, barely ahead of Detroit. Most impressive has been the Lions’ success against running backs, and they held Saquon Barkley to just 15 carries for 22 yards (1.5 YPC) last week.

Of course, the Bills are a pass-first offense with Josh Allen, but Allen clearly hasn’t been himself as he’s dealing with the elbow injury. He ranks just 19th in EPA+CPOE composite over the last two weeks which is a significant dropoff from his season-long ranking of third. Buffalo has played two below-average defenses in the Vikings and Browns over that span.

The Bills’ defense is also banged up as cornerbacks Tre’Davious White and Kaiir Elam and safety Micah Hyde are out. Meanwhile, Greg Rousseau and Tremaine Edmunds will miss this week’s game, leaving the front seven lighter. The Browns had a lot of success throwing the ball last week and Jacoby Brissett averaged 7.5 YPA.

Jared Goff has had an up and down season, but he’s been far more productive when playing at home in the controlled conditions inside the Ford Field dome. Check out the following splits:

Jared Goff at home: 261.4 passing yards per game, 7.5% touchdown rate, 1.7% interception rate, 103.4 passer rating

Jared Goff on the road: 227.0 passing yards per game, 1.3% touchdown rate, 2.6% interception rate, 81.0 passer rating

We’re getting Goff at home this week against a beat up Bills defense, and I believe he can take advantage somewhat. Amon-Ra St. Brown should be in for a big game against this secondary, and you can read about why I love this matchup for him in my player props article. The Lions could also get Josh Reynolds back from injury this week.

One thing that scares me here is that the Lions will be missing both of their starting guards, and the Bills are stout on the interior with the trio of DaQuan Jones, Ed Oliver, and Jordan Phillips. Still, there are enough reasons to think the Lions are a live dog in this game, and I’ll be watching to see where the number heads.

I’d love to get the Lions at +10.5 on the pre-flop, but I don’t think that number is coming. I already have the Bills -3 in a teaser leftover from last week, so I’m not rushing to play a worse number on Detroit, but I’ll look to play them +14 live if the Bills strike first. I don’t see this game being a complete blowout.

Best Bet: consider the Lions +10 and play +14 or better live

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys

This looked like an exciting Thanksgiving game a couple of weeks ago, and it would theoretically be a good sell-high spot for the Cowboys and buy-low spot for the Giants after last week’s results, but the injuries have reached a breaking point for New York and will be a massive challenge to overcome.

The Giants will be without Wan’Dale Robinson, Sterling Shepard, Richie James, and Daniel Bellinger for this game, and that’s before you consider their offensive line where all five starters are currently listed on the injury report. Even if some of them play, they won’t be at 100%, and they’re facing Dallas who leads the NFL in pressure rate.

It’s worth noting that the Cowboys are dealing with some injuries along their defensive line, but Micah Parsons is expected to play. So long as the likely Defensive Player of the Year is in the lineup wreaking havoc, I don’t have too many concerns about the availability of the ancillary players. Judging from this video of Parsons negotiating for playing time in a massive blowout, he’ll be itching to go to work here.

It’s also unclear if Saquon Barkley is at 100% right now after compiling just 15 carries for 22 yards against a beatable Lions defense. His efficiency has been trending down as his rushing EPA per snap has dropped from -2.2 over the first five games to -12.6 over the last five games. While the Cowboys can be vulnerable on the ground, he might not be able to take advantage.

The Giants’ defense is also banged up with top cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson and Fabian Moreau out for this game. Against a quarterback in Dak Prescott who has excelled against the blitz, which the Giants run at the highest rate in the NFL, that’s a massive problem. Prescott threw for 22 touchdowns and four interceptions against the blitz last season.

I can’t get to the point of laying ten points with the home team here, particularly with the Cowboys’ less than illustrious 1-10 ATS record in their last 11 Thanksgiving games. However, if you can get the Giants’ team total under 17.5 points at close to even money, that’s a great option.

Best Bet: consider Giants team total under 17.5 points or Cowboys in a teaser

New England Patriots at Minnesota Vikings

We’re saving the best for last on Thanksgiving as the nightcap game has a much closer spread than the first two games of the day. The Vikings are coming off an embarrassing 40-3 blowout loss at home to the Dallas Cowboys, which would theoretically set up a spot for buy-low value, but the Patriots represent another difficult matchup for them.

The Vikings were completely overwhelmed by the Cowboys’ pass rush last week as they surrendered a whopping 26 pressures and seven sacks. Kirk Cousins simply had no time to operate in the pocket, and it resulted in one of the worst showings of his career. It won’t get easier this week, particularly with the state of his offensive line.

Christian Darrisaw suffered a second concussion in consecutive weeks against the Cowboys, and that loss can’t be overstated as he is PFF’s third-highest graded offensive tackle this season. In 30 snaps in relief last week, Blake Brandel coughed up four pressures and two sacks, and he finished with a putrid PFF pass-blocking grade of 26.5.

Meanwhile, New England enters this game with the highest-graded defense by DVOA, EPA, and success rate. They rank second in pressure rate despite blitzing at about a league-average rate, allowing them to play stout in coverage while getting pressure on the opposing passer. That’s a nightmare for Cousins.

Kirk Cousins ranks seventh among 39 qualified passers in completion percentage from a clean pocket, but that drops from 34th when he’s under pressure. His turnover-worthy play rate also increases from 2.2% to 4.9% when he’s under pressure, per PFF. It’s difficult to envision him having his best showing given this defensive matchup is highly similar to what he saw last week.

It doesn’t help that Justin Jefferson played through turf toe last week and struggled to make his typical impact as he finished with just three catches for 33 yards. If he’s once again limited, look for the offense to lean on T.J. Hockenson as a short-area target – I played Hockenson’s receptions prop for this reason.

On the New England side, Mac Jones has certainly had a turbulent season, but he completed 85% of his passes last week against an elite Jets defense. Of course, it didn’t lead to any points, but he’s only faced top notch defenses since making his full return to the lineup – he’s played the Jets twice and the Colts in his last three games.

Here, he’ll face a Minnesota defense that ranks 26th in overall success rate, 30th in yards per play, and 18th in DVOA. The Vikings rank below average in pressure rate, meaning Jones will have the luxury of working from a clean pocket more often than not. While we shouldn’t expect offensive fireworks from him, he’s underrated in the market.

The gap between Kirk Cousins and Mac Jones as passers simply isn’t very large, if it exists at all. The market perception suggests the Vikings are a far better team, but they rank 24th in total DOVA compared to the Pats ranking 11th, and there’s still room to fade them at the current number. New England wins this game outright.

Best Bet: Patriots +3 and ML

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. As the United States embarks on an exciting journey towards the legalization of sports betting, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to cover industry news, NFL and NBA odds, and more.

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