Two of America’s grand traditions return this Thursday, as families all across the nation gather for Thanksgiving dinner – and football fans enjoy a full day of action involving six high-profile teams.
Along with the usual suspects from Dallas and Detroit – the latter of which has played in a Thanksgiving game every year since 1934 (excluding the WWII years) – this year’s slate of Turkey Day games includes the Lions’ divisional rivals from Minnesota, the Cowboys’ archenemies from Washington, and two underperforming perennial contenders from the AFC in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis.
Read on for a preview of each game, including kickoff times and betting lines courtesy of the Bovada sportsbook:
Minnesota Vikings (6-4) @ Detroit Lions (6-4) – 12:30 p.m. EST
The first game of the day kicks off just after noon on the East Coast, meaning Westerners will be treated to some early morning football.
That’s fitting for the Vikings, who were caught sleepwalking through a four-game losing streak in which the team scored just 14 points per game. Minnesota did right the ship last Sunday though, sending the demoralized Arizona Cardinals (4-5-1) back to the desert in a hard-fought 30-24 win.
Detroit, meanwhile, has used Minnesota’s extended losing jag to climb back into the NFC North race – and following the Vikings’ 5-0 start, it’s the Lions who sit atop the division standings. That’s because Detroit currently owns the tiebreaker, having defeated Minnesota in a 22-16 roadie in Week 9.
The Lions took their bye week after that, before downing the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-8) in a tight 26-19 game in Motown.
The Lions are 4-1 at Ford Field, while the Vikings are just 2-3 away from their newly built stadium, so Bovada gives Detroit the 3-point edge as home favorites here.
Washington Redskins (6-3-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (9-1) – 4:30 p.m. EST
The most anticipated game of the day is another divisional affair, but in this case the surging Dallas Cowboys hold a full two-game lead over their closest NFC East competitor. That’s the New York Giants (7-3) though, putting Washington on the outside looking in when it comes to division title aspirations.
The Redskins do hold the second Wild Card berth, however, making their Thanksgiving shootout with the Cowboys of the utmost importance – especially with that nagging tie on their record. The team has been playing well of late, recording wins over the Vikings and the Green Bay Packers (4-6) in consecutive weeks coming out of the bye, but it’s Dallas stealing the spotlight.
After dropping their season-opener 20-19 against the Giants, the Cowboys have reeled off nine straight wins – most of which have come in convincing fashion. To wit: Dallas hasn’t lost a game against the spread (ATS) all year, compiling a glittering 9-0-1 ATS record to give ‘Boys backers a bankroll boost.
The Bovada oddsmakers are playing it safe on that account, posting a wide 7.5-point line in favor of Dallas, despite the game’s intense rivalry and divisional implications.
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5) @ Indianapolis Colts (5-5) – 8:30 p.m. EST
A game between two disappointing supposed Super Bowl contenders was made even less interesting when Colts quarterback Andrew Luck went down with a concussion last Sunday.
The markets are hesitant to allow betting until Luck’s status is confirmed – Bovada has the game “locked” as of Tuesday night – but the consensus line has shifted Indianapolis from slight 3-point home underdogs to 8.5 and even 9 points on the Luck news.