It is Thanksgiving weekend and Lindy’s Sports’ UK editor Simon Milham looks at some of the big games ahead of NFL Week 13, including a triple-header on Thursday evening.

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

The first American Thanksgiving is generally believed to have been in Plymouth Colony in mid-October of 1681, when William Bradford and the Pilgrims gathered with local Indians to give thanks for survival and the first harvest – around the same time as the Cincinnati Bengals last won an NFL game. Or thereabouts.

Many feel survival could be the issue for Detroit in the first of Thursday’s televised triple-header.

When Chicago Bears enter Ford Field, most are expecting the traditional Thanksgiving Day carve-up of the Detroit Lions. And there’s plenty to suggest that the 2019 edition of the Lions will be among a rafter of turkeys getting a stuffing with all the trimmings.

While they were unfortunate not to cover a 2.5-point handicap on Sunday at the Washington Redskins, the Lions showed very little offensively against a weak defence who had won just a solitary game – by one point – previously.

Little wonder, with QB Matt Stafford ruled out with a back injury and top running back Kerryon Johnson also sidelined. They will also be without defensive end Trey Flowers and cornerbacks Rashaan Melvin and Jamal Agnew.

While mobile back-up passer Jeff Driskel appeared on the latest injury report on Monday as ‘limited’ with a sore hamstring, he is likely to face the Bears. Third-stringer David Blough, an undrafted rookie from Purdue who spent the preseason in Cleveland, is primed should Driskel be a no-show.

While odd things can happen on Turkey Day, with its short week, early start, national TV and tradition, the Bears possibly should be heavier favourites than 3.0 points they are asked to concede on the BetVictor NFL handicap at odds of 10/11.

They beat the Lions three weeks ago and have since lost to the Rams 17-7 and beaten the Giants 19-14.

Thanksgiving visitors Chicago

In their past five games they have allowed just 16.6 points per game and the defense has forced three turnovers in the last two games, after having just 12 in the previous nine. Those are the positives.

The Bears’ offense still smells like a turkey carcass that has been left out of the fridge for a week. Right tackle Bobby Massie, the best player on the struggling offensive line, is expected to miss this clash and so too could tight end Ben Braunecker and wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, who both scored touchdowns in their last meeting.

One must feel a touch sorry for David Montgomery, who is one of the best backs in the NFL, but the line simply can’t open holes and he has managed 31 yards and 22 yards respectively in his last two games. The Lions’ defense, which is wearing down, has conceded 396 yards per game and 26.5 points per game, so should make QB Mitchell Trubisky look competent. For a time.

Detroit, who have hosted Thanksgiving Day games since 1934, have won just five of their last 18 games played on this traditional feast day. They have won five of the 12 games played against the Bears on Thanksgiving since the War but lost last year’s clash 23-16.

While everything points to a low-scoring clash, the line may be set a little too low at 38 points, with former Dallas RB Bo Scarbrough possibly providing a spark for the Lions – he has looked a force in the last couple of weeks and should see a heavier workload. This means we should go against the grain and hope for a few points. Pass the cranberry sauce, please.

TIP: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions – over 38 total points at

 

Buffalo Bills at Dallas Cowboys

Two top-six defences go toe to toe in he second of Thursday’s triple-header, with the Dallas Cowboys installed as the 6.5-point BetVictor NFL handicap favourites at odds of 10/11.

The 6-5 Cowboys hold a one-game lead over the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East, while Buffalo are off to their best start since 1996 with an 8-3 record, coming off an ugly 20-3 win over the Denver Broncos.

Where the two teams differ is their respective offenses. Dallas QB Dak Prescott has guided a unit that is averaging 27 points per game – a league best. They have playmakers like WR Amari Cooper and RB Ezekiel Elliott, and an offensive line that has allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL.

Dallas are invariably over-bet by punters and that makes them the darlings of the sportsbooks.

How else can you explain them being beaten on the road by the New York Jets as 10.5-point favourites and losing by double-digits at home to the Green Bay Packers?

In reality, the Cowboys may be an above-average team, but they have ridden a soft schedule and have yet to beat a team that boasts a winning record.

Just when you think the sun is shining and you’ve figured them out, they proceed to throw more shade than a solar eclipse and are poorly coached.

The same sentiments apply to Buffalo. While in the AFC wildcard hunt, they have yet to earn a win over a team that possesses a winning mark although their three losses have some at the hands of improving Cleveland (by three points), New England (by six) and Philadelphia. Only the Eagles (31 points) and Miami (21) have managed more than 20 points against the Bills this term and the Cowboys’ points total is over/under 26 points with BetVictor at odds of 9/10.

The Bills’ biggest problem is the ability to generate points. Aside from their two wins over Miami, they have only managed to break the 21-point mark on two occasions (28 points vs. the NY Giants and 24 points vs. Washington – whose combined record is 4-18).

Buffalo will rely on a decent running game, with Devin Singletary and Frank Gore, while QB Josh Allen will dump off short passes to former Cowboy Cole Beasley, TE Dawson Knox and John Brown.

It will be interesting to see if Dallas’s selective application of blitz packages will rattle the inconsistent Allen, who is still a major running threat. It may not be enough, though.

Expect plenty of delayed handoffs in the running game and three-wide receiver sets in the passing game as Dallas do enough to cover in a relatively high-scoring contest.

Tip: Dallas Cowboys -6.5 points at

TIP: Total Touchdowns – Over 4.5 at

 

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons

There is more to the third of the Thanksgiving Day games than turkey and trimmings – the Saints will lock up the NFC South title should they avenge their 26-9 home defeat on November 10. They have won six of their last 10 trips to Atlanta, including last year’s 43-37 success.  The Falcons have not swept the series since the 2016/17 season.

Thanksgiving divisional clash

The Saints got away with a three-point win over Carolina on Sunday, scoring over 30 points for the fourth time in five outings, while the Falcons were stunned 35-22 at home by Tampa, having previously beaten both the Saints and Panthers on the road.

Indeed, they have been better away from the Mercedes-Benz this season than in their spanking, sparking stadium, where they have gone 1-4.

Their 3-8 record belies the talent they have, although injuries have crippled Dan Quinn’s team this term and QB Matt Ryan does not appear to have fully recovered from a nagging ankle injury, although he ranks No. 3 in passes completed and No. 6 in passing yards, despite missing a game.

Saints counterpart Drew Brees has been phenomenal. He is league leader in completion percentage through Week 12 at 75.7

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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