It’s a splendid day to slow down, take a break and enjoy life. Let the big box store’s try and fool us thinking they have safety concerns about the day after Thanksgiving, giving them a reason to be open today. At least most of us understand what today is, a day for thanks for all the good things that come to us. In addition, besides great food and family, we receive a healthy portion of football, to which a few dollars could be set aside to hopefully also make it a profitable day in other ways. Here’s a look at the day time action. Lines from Bookmaker.com.
Green Bay at Detroit (+11.5, 47.5)
Dating back to 1934, the Lions have been a proud part of the American celebration of Thanksgiving Day. They’ve played 69 games on the national holiday and take a 33-34-2 record into this year’s contest against Green Bay. Detroit (2-8, 2-7-1 ATS) has dropped five straight up and against the spread on the fourth Thursday of November while being outscored by a lopsided 168-60 margin, and comes into this game winners of just three of its last 32 games (10-21-1 ATS) dating back to the halfway mark of 2007.
Since Green Bay won 37-26 as a field goal favorite two years ago, coach Mike McCarthy’s team has beaten the Lions four straight times (1-3 ATS), with an average score of 34.8-14.8. In fact, Detroit hasn’t won outright in this series since 2005, a span of eight games (2-6 ATS). The game is very important for Green Bay, 6-4 after beating San Francisco this past Sunday and currently is the top NFC wild card team.
Green Bay’s defense is ranked third overall in yards allowed, but it has been feast of famine in points conceded. In the Packers six victories, they have only surrendered more than 17 points once (5-0-1 ATS) and in the four losses, they have allowed 30 or more points (0-4 ATS). They shutout Detroit 26-0 in earlier meeting and are 9-4 ATS as road favorites, however, a great deal of shifting has to occur with Al Harris and Aaron Kampman done for the year with knee injuries.
The Packers will face a similar Detroit offense in the rematch. The Lions are expected to be without rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford and third-year wide receiver Calvin Johnson because of injuries. Daunte Culpepper will again get the start in place of Stafford and had a miserable day the last time (6-for-14, 48 yards, one interception) before leaving in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. It’s unfortunate for coach Jim Schwartz , since Stafford had a career day last week, setting a league mark for most touchdown passes (five) in a game by a rookie. His last one, with no time left, beat Cleveland 38-37. The Lions are 6-16 ATS off one or more straight Overs and 1-8 ATS in weeks 10 through 13 over the last three seasons.
Detroit hasn’t won back to back games since games 6-thur-8 in 2007; however Green Bay on this day will often bring out the best in them, just like in 2003, when they won 22-14 as a touchdown underdog. The Lions are 8-0 ATS at home in November against teams off consecutive wins.
3DWLine – Green Bay by 13.5 (color for the day)
Oakland at Dallas (-13.5, 40)
Of late, Thanksgiving Day has been more like Groundhog Day, with Detroit losing early game and Dallas winning big in the late afternoon tilt. In fact, the last Turkey Day wins by the Cowboys have been by 25, 31 and 28 points. They are expected to win big again in ’09, with the Oakland coming to town for the inaugural holiday affair at brand new Cowboys’ Stadium.
Dallas comes in with a 7-3 (5-5 ATS) mark after surviving Washington, but is now just 3-6 ATS as double-digit chalk under Wade Phillips. However, they will be looking to extend a run of 29-14 ATS at home in the month of November.
The Cowboys will like the person who hid the big turkey leg in the back of refrigerator for later consumption, sifting thru the maze of food to find it. After averaging 30.2 points per game starting Oct. 11, Dallas has two touchdowns in the last two games in totaling a mere 14 points, which all came in the fourth quarter. The Boys will be searching for offense and are 29-14 ATS in home games after scoring 14 points or less last outing.
This will be Oakland’s first appearance playing on Thanksgiving since the AFL and NFL merged in 1970. The Raiders (3-7, 5-5 ATS), much like recent times, lost 28-14 to Detroit in that game, with one difference, they were an elite team back in yesteryear.
This is Oakland’s first visit to Big D in 11 years and is coming off rare victory last week in upset of Cincinnati 20-17. Coach Tom Cable had seen enough of JaMarcus Russell and his poor work habits and has turned the team over journeymen Bruce Gradkowski. The former Toledo star has about one-fifth the ability of Russell, but proved last week he’s a fighter and played inspired football. Among the issues in this contest is the Raiders run defense, which is 30th overall and they are 17-33 ATS versus good rushing teams like Dallas (5 YPC), averaging 4.5 or more yards per carry.
Oakland is 4-1 ATS as a dog of 10-points or more under coach Cable, but if they trail at halftime, don’t expect and comeback from the Silver and Black, as they have scored only 42 points in the final 30 minutes on the season, with a grand total of three trips into the end zone. (None in the third quarter)
The culprit is the lack of passing game, which averages an unfathomable 125 yards per game and Dallas is 15-3 ATS at home vs. destitute passing teams averaging 5.2 or less passing yards per attempt, winning by 17.4 points per game.
3DW Line – Dallas by 16
New York Giants at Denver (+6, 42.5)
The Thanksgiving Night game offers the best matchup of the three holiday tilts, as the Giants will be visiting the Broncos. Both teams started fast, with New York winning its first five games, and Denver winning its first six, but each have since faded. Both teams are 6-4 heading into this contest and in need of a win to keep pace in the playoff hunt.
New York (5-5 ATS) only plays Denver once every four years, but folks of the Big Apple always seem to have fond memories of playing the team in blue and orange. Besides the infamous 39-20 Giants win in Super Bowl XXI, Big Blue fans also remember knocking off a previously undefeated Broncos team in 1998, although John Elway would later lead his team to a second straight Super Bowl title a month later.
The 2009 version of this matchup should also provide a bit of drama since both teams once seemed secure in their playoff prospects, but now find themselves in a perilous position, with the loser lacking relevancy with December arriving next week.
A bye week served New York well and it got by Atlanta in overtime, 34-31. It also helped the Giants that Dallas, Philadelphia and the Falcons all lost while they were idle. A nagging issue has arisen, with the Giants incapable of holding fourth quarter leads, giving up a late touchdown to San Diego, causing a 21-20 defeat and surrendering two TD’s to Atlanta in the final stanza, sending last week’s contest into overtime. Possibly the best news moving forward is the G-Men are 18-5 ATS in road games over the last three seasons.
For the Giants, it’s the first visit to Denver since 2001, and they are 4-1 ATS in their last five road games vs. AFC foes and 9-1 ATS in previous 10 second half contests on the road vs. winni
If any of this is cause for alarm, at least New York won their last game. Denver’s 6-0 start was the talk of the league and rookie head coach Josh McDaniels received more acclaim than the highly praised football drama “The Blind Side,” but four straight losses without covers has squelched all that talk. The latest, a 32-3 blowout defeat to surging San Diego, meant the Broncos (6-4 ATS) relinquished first place. Denver is 5-13 ATS after the first month of the season over the last two seasons.
Kyle Orton’s cool and collected presence has given way to injury and ineffectiveness. Hurt in the loss to Washington two weeks ago, Orton was dragged back into the huddle last week after backup Chris Simms turned in three ineffective series and led several trips into the Chargers red zone that came up empty.
The rushing attack has also suffered during the losing skid (82 yards per game), and the tandem of Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter has only three rushing touchdowns between them. Though wideout Brandon Marshall continues to have a solid season with 52 catches for 628 yards and six scores, his verbal confrontation on the sideline with Moreno after he suffered goal line fumble, spoke of the frustration this Denver team is experiencing. The Broncos could fall out of the AFC West race fast if they don’t pick up a win soon and they are 2-12 ATS after one or more consecutive losses against the spread.
Bookmaker.com has the Giants as sizable seven-point road favorites, with total of 42. The oddsmakers have ample reasons to prefer New York in this spot since they are 9-1 AT in road games when playing against a team with a winning record in the second part if the year over the last three seasons. In addition, they are 8-0 ATS in a road conflicts when the total is between 35.5 and 42 points.
Even with last week’s loss, Denver is still 8-3-1 ATS as home underdog and have played UNDER in all five home games in 2009.
This will be the usual 8:20 Eastern start for Thursday night football on the NFL Network, with the Giants 10-0 UNDER as a road favorite of 3.5 to 7 points and the Broncos 12-3 OVER after having lost four out of their last five games.
3DW Line – Giants by 3.5
Steve Makinen of the Platinum Sheet and College and Pro Football Weekly made contributions to this article.