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Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday because it’s as American as they come. It’s a day of coming together to celebrate taking what’s not yours and pretending to give a damn about the Detroit Lions as your non-binary cousin pretends like they don’t benefit from the same privileges of a mass genocide that you do. It’s your Aunt’s pumpkin pie over your Uncle’s opinion on Biden’s border policy and vigorously patting your hands dry on a hand towel that says there’s no place like home. But this year, Thanksgiving is special because you can place bets from your couch for the first time since you’ve lived in Maryland. So, let’s go through the Thursday slate and see who we want to take and why.
Giants v. Lions
To have the Cowboys host the Giants on turkey day feels right. Is there anything more American than the Cowboys not living up to expectations and the Giants overachieving theirs? The Cowboys and Giants both have a 7-3 record. Dallas is in second place in the NFC East because of the head-to-head tiebreaker, but whoever wins this Sunday will overtake the other in the standings. What’s interesting is that Dallas comes into this game as a heavy favorite after only beating New York by a touchdown when these teams met in week three (albeit without Dak Prescott). Why?
In case SportsCenter hasn’t talked your ear off enough about it, Dallas has an elite defense. The 174.5 passing yards a game that Dallas gives up is good for first in the NFL, and Micah Parsons and company recorded 7 sacks against the Vikings last week. You would have thought it was an Alabama Thanksgiving the way they were rolling around with Cousins all afternoon. Dallas’ 42 sacks lead the NFL, and it appears that offensively they’ve finally figured out the whole Tony Pollard is a much better back than Ezekiel Elliott thing because Pollard has 326 rushing yards and six total touchdowns over his last three games. The Cowboys defend the pass and run the ball very well, and even the biggest Cowboys hater (my Father) could tell you that Dak has looked impressive since he’s returned.
And guess what? Don’t buy it. The Giants weren’t supposed to be in the NFC East champion conversation by this point in the season, and they’re still here. New York’s grit has them 7-3 ATS, and they’ve notched impressive wins against the Titans, Packers, and Ravens on their way. The Giants, 3-1 on the road this season, fell to a suddenly-hot Lions team at home on Sunday, as Detroit running back Jamaal Williams ran for a career-high three touchdowns. Was it great? No, but freak losses happen, and Dallas has one of the worst run defenses in the league, so you can count on Saquon Barkley running for more than 22 yards. On average, the Cowboys allow 136.1 rushing yards a game. For a team that runs the ball 51.69% of the time, New York is a matchup nightmare for Dallas.
New York is surrendering 20.4 points per game, down from 24.5 last season, and is allowing way fewer passing yards per game than past Giants teams Dak has faced. This isn’t your average Dak Prescott versus the Giants team. Future coach of the year Brian Daboll has turned this organization from a boat picture and an embarrassing six years to a contender that, like the Coughlin-era cockroach teams before them, refuse to be stepped on. This Giants team could beat anybody. Vegas likes Dallas -8.5, but this will be the most Giants win of all time. Take the Giants and get $200 back into your account no matter what happens!
Bills v. Lions
I could write about this game in forty words by telling you the Bills have the second-best offense statistically in the NFL, scoring 28.1 points per game on average, and that the Lions have the worst defense in the NFL statistically, allowing 28.2.0 points per game on average, but the Lions have been hot so let’s dive into the matchup a little more. The Bills started off the year putting some nice wins together, but they struggled to run the football, and that was a concern to everyone. Luckily, Devin Singletary figured it out because he’s been on fire for the last weeks, and it couldn’t have come at a better time as Buffalo is in an arms race for first in the AFC East. He’s scored three touchdowns over the previous two games, and rookie James Cook should put a rainbow flag in his social media bio because his coming out party against the Browns last week was fun to watch. He totaled 86 yards on the ground on just 11 carries, and against a Lions team that gives up 153.7 rushing yards per game (second worst in the NFL), someone in your fantasy league will pick him up on the waiver wire.
But why are we talking about running the football so much? When the Lions give up 110 rushing yards or more, they are 1-5. When the Lions give up less than 110 yards on the ground, their record is 3-1- and the only exception was against the Bears when they won by one point. We already know what Josh Allen can do. Now imagine what he does when his team has established the run. If you want to talk about Josh Allen, I’ll bite. Allen, who was shoveled out of the snow by neighbors last week just so he could make the game (shoutout to Buffalo), is top five in the league in the following categories
Passing yards (second)
Touchdown passes (third)
PFF grade among quarterbacks (third…also for nerds)
MVP Odds (third)
QB rushing yards (third)
Yards per pass (fifth)
…and the list could go on and on.
There’s no tradition like watching the Lions play on Thanksgiving, but do they have a chance to win this game? Probably not, but let’s give some more evidence as to why. The one problem the Lions don’t have is scoring the football. At 25.0 points per game, the Lions have one of the best-scoring offenses in the NFL. Behind an offensive line that gives him enough time to watch The Irishman, Jared Goff is having the best season of his NFL career. His connection with Amon-Ra St. Brown has been a fun one to watch, as Goff has more throws of 20 yards or more this season than Geno Smith, Justin Herbert, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, and Tua. Nobody can blame the losses on Goff, but they can thank him and NFL touchdown leader Jamaal Williams for the wins.
As good of a passing defense as the Bills have, the injuries of LB Tremaine Edmunds and DE Greg Rousseau make it likely the Lions will hit the 30-point mark for the third straight game. This game will be a shootout, and the Bills have better weapons. Vegas likes Buffalo –9.5, and the Bills will cover in a very high-scoring game. Bills Moneyline? Next question. Take the Bills and get $200 back into your account no matter what happens!
Vikings v. Patriots
There is no reason to believe that New England will travel to Minnesota and beat the Vikings. The Patriots needed a last-second punt return to beat the Jets. At home. New England now has to travel to Minnesota. To play a vastly superior team. At the end of the day, sometimes the simplest answer is the right one. Minnesota has too many weapons on offense. It is up to the task of slowing a pretty bad Patriot offense. Minnesota still has a path to hosting the NFC playoffs and a win here is big. ‘Bad’ Kirk Cousins is your lone worry, but with a short week, it will be a case study in simplicity. Minnesota wraps up a day of home-team domination. Take the Vikings and get $200 back into your account no matter what happens!