Football, family and food. Nothing says America like Thanksgiving. Then you add a side of NFL betting and you’ve hit the ultimate day of American greatness.
I’ve had a good run on the OutKick Bets podcast to the tune of a 26-10 record on NFL betting picks. I’ve given against-the-spread, total and player props and have been quite profitable in doing so.
Last week wasn’t our best effort, but we got some late touchdowns to go 2-2. Here’s a recap of our Week 11 NFL action:
New York Giants -3 over Detroit Lions ❌
Detroit Lions at New York Giants Over 45 ✅
Houston Texans +3 over Washington Commanders ❌
Cleveland Browns “at” Buffalo Bills Over 49.5 ✅
Let’s take a look at some Thanksgiving NFL Betting Picks…
Buffalo Bills at Detroit Lions UNDER 54 points
This total is extremely high. Like really, really high. In fact, there have only been three games this year where the total was 54 points or higher (1-2 O/U). In a season where games have been going under at a ridiculous clip, bookmakers are projecting a good-old-fashioned shootout on Turkey Day in the Motor City. The problem? I just don’t see it.
Buffalo has one of the league’s best defenses. Although we hit the Over last week against Cleveland, the reality is that it was a bit lucky. That game had no business going Over and only did because the Browns scored a garbage-time TD that had no real effect on the outcome of the game.
Part of the reason we went with that Over was because of the banged-up Buffalo defense. That’s still the case, though Greg Rousseau could get back into the lineup this week and Jordan Poyer practiced fully on Tuesday, indicating he’s healthier than last week. Kaiir Elam also practiced in full, so their secondary is much healthier than their defense upfront.
Detroit will do everything it can to keep Josh Allen on the sideline and that means going heavy on the run and leaning on both D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. And, to be honest, the Bills will likely do the same. Detroit’s run defense is atrocious — 150+ yards allowed per game, only better than Houston — and the Bills actually have a Top 10 rushing offense (134 yards/game).
Although Buffalo is the second-highest scoring team in the NFL (28 points/game), the Bills are actually a heavy UNDER team this season; the Bills are 7-3 to the Under. Detroit, meanwhile, has been one of the most profitable Over teams in 2022, going 7-3 to the Over (only Cleveland has a higher Over percentage).
But Detroit’s Over numbers are buoyed by its start to the season. The Lions averaged 35 points/game in their first four before running into high-level defenses New England and Dallas. They scored six points combined in those two games.
Yes, they’ve scored 31 points in each of the past two weeks, but both the Giants and Bears have well-below-average defenses. The Bills defense is Top 10 in the NFL in EPA per play and I expect them to shut down the Lions. Buffalo might score 35 points but that would require Detroit to score 20 to hit the over and I just don’t think they can do it.
New York Giants +10 over Dallas Cowboys
I’m clearly a glutton for punishment. Get it, glutton? On Thanksgiving?
Anyway, we took an L on the Giants last week in a game where we never really had a chance. But I think Daniel Jones and the Giants offense was heavily affected by the wind and once Detroit knew Jones couldn’t throw the ball downfield, it stacked the box against Saquon Barkley.
This game is going to be played indoors and that benefits the Giants. Plus, Defensive Player of the Year candidate Micah Parsons got hurt Sunday and although he’s likely to play, he’s definitely not going to be 100% on short rest. And the Giants offense has actually been better than the Cowboys according to EPA/play, which is good because New York’s defense is in a clear class below Dallas.
But if you look at overall EPA stats, the Giants are just one tier behind Dallas.
Other games that feature teams that are one-tier separated and the spread: Patriots/Vikings (2.5), Bengals/Titans (1.5), Panthers/Broncos (2), Browns/Bucs (3.5) and Seahawks/Raiders (3.5). And yet the Giants are TEN POINT underdogs. This spread was 7 in the preseason and was still 7 prior to Sunday. Dallas smoked Minnesota, 40-3 on Sunday. And, obviously, Detroit stomped New York.
There is too much recency bias at play here and the Giants are certainly within a touchdown of Dallas in terms on their play this season. It’s scary to go right back to the well when we got trapped down there last week, but we’ll take our chances on a value line.
New England Patriots at Minnesota Vikings UNDER 42.5 points
The Patriots’ defense is really good. Like, best in the NFL good. It is nearly a full .05 EPA/play better than the next best defense (Denver). And, despite the 8-2 record, the Vikings are basically an average NFL team. They’re exactly even on defense and just below average on offense.
The Patriots offense is actually quite bad. It ranks about the same as the Broncos, Jets, Commanders and Steelers. Yeah, not great company. So, we’re getting the league’s best defense and a bottom 10 offense against a bottom-half offense and a top-half defense. AND the total is OVER 40? Sign me up.
People like to bet Overs because, let’s be honest, they’re more fun. Who wants to root AGAINST scoring? This becomes especially true in island games. There’s only one game on TV, you’re watching it with friends and family, and you want to pull for points. You don’t want to be the guy cursing when touchdowns are scored. That’s like being the guy who bets the “Don’t Pass” line in craps.
But guess what? That’s exactly what we’re going to do. Here’s a tip, though: when you bet the “Don’t Pass” line and it hits … celebrate internally. Don’t shout it out or rub it in people’s face. When the Patriots line up to punt for the seventh time and the game is still mid-third quarter, just quietly be happy you’re on the right side.
When the replay shows that the runner was down short of the endzone on fourth-and-goal, don’t scream “LOOK AT HIS KNEE, IT’S DOWN RIGHT THERE!” Just politely remark, “boy, that’s close.”
With that, enjoy the holiday my friends, and good luck. Hopefully you get stuffed with food and stuffed with cash. And thanks to our bets, we’ll be hoping for a lot of stuffing on the field Thursday.
Hooray for rooting against points!
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ