It’s Thanksgiving week in the NFL, and football bettors and fans always have a lot for which to be thankful this time of year. The Lions and Cowboys have traditionally taken the field on Thanksgiving Day, and a recently-added night game continues to be part of the menu. What more could you ask for, in addition to a smorgasbord of food, then a smorgasbord of NFL action on national television?
That being said, more than a fair share of teams can’t be thankful for some serious misfortune. Backup quarterbacks will be on the big storylines in Week 12 with all kinds of injuries plaguing the league. It might be a good idea to expect the unexpected over the next five days (all odds provided by Sportsbook.ag):
273 – Receiving yards in last Sunday’s comeback victory over Jacksonville for Houston receiver Andre Johnson. They were the most in an NFL game since Terrell Owens in a Dec. 17, 2000 contest. Johnson’s quarterback, Matt Schaub, passed for 527 yards (tied for the second most in a single game in NFL history) to go along with five touchdowns. Detroit, though, is eighth in the NFL is pass defense (214.0 yards per game) and “limited” Aaron Rodgers to 236 yards last Sunday in Green Bay’s 24-20 win. The Lions are +3.5 home underdogs against the Texans on Thanksgiving.
6 – Cowboys’ wins, compared to zero losses, in Thanksgiving games against Washington. Dallas is 28-15-1 all-time on Turkey Day and is 5-1 in its last six. The overall trend against the Redskins is also favorable for the Cowboys, who have taken six of the last seven meetings. Washington, however, is 4-0 against the spread in the last four between the two NFC East rivals. Dallas is a -3 home favorite on Thursday afternoon.
2 – Number of times the Patriots have scored more than 50 points in a game this season. The entire rest of the NFL has combined to do it twice. New England lit up Buffalo for 52 on Sept. 30 before Tom Brady and company put up 59 last Sunday against the Colts. However, Brady will not have Rob Gronkowski (53 catches, 748 yards, 10 touchdowns) on Thanksgiving. Gronk suffered a broken forearm in the win over Indianapolis and will likely miss four games. The Patriots are -7 road faves over the Jets.
3 – Consecutive games Eli Manning has played without throwing a single touchdown pass. In that span, in which New York has compiled a 1-2 record, he has four interceptions. Manning has not thrown multiple scoring passes in a contest since Oct. 7 against Cleveland. His QB ratings in his last five outings are as follows: 87.4, 78.9, 58.4, 41.1, and 56.0. Those are his five lowest of the season. The Giants are -3 home favorites against Green Bay on Sunday night.
5 – Interceptions thrown by Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan last Sunday in a 23-19 victory over Arizona, which made him the first player since Bart Starr in 1967 to throw five picks in one game and still manage to win. It’s also the margin by which the Falcons lost the turnover battle, as they coughed it up six times in total while earning just a single takeaway (which they took back for a touchdown). It’s also the number of wins for Tampa Bay in its last six games after starting the season 1-3. The Bucs are +1.5 home underdogs against Atlanta.
5.5 – Sacks by Aldon Smith in Monday’s 32-7 slaughter of Chicago, setting a “Monday Night Football” record. Smith’s 5.5 takedowns were the second most in San Francisco franchise history, behind only Fred Dean’s six in 1983. The former Missouri standout has 29 sacks in fewer than two total seasons in the league, so he is on course to surpass Reggie White (31) and Derrick Thomas (30) in that department. New Orleans, meanwhile, has allowed only 16 sacks in 2012 (sixth fewest in the NFL). The spread for Sunday’s showdown in the Big Easy is off because the 49ers have not yet announced if they are starting Alex Smith or Colin Kaepernick.
30,000 – Dollars that Houston linebacker Tim Dobbins was fined for his Week 10 helmet-to-helmet hit on Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler, who missed his team’s blowout loss at San Francisco. Bettors must keep a keen eye on this Sunday’s matchup between Chicago and visiting Minnesota, because the spread is currently off due to the uncertainty of Cutler’s status. The Bears are 5-0 straight up and 5-0 ATS in their last five against the Vikings and Chicago is 10-1 SU and 8-2-1 ATS in its last 11 at home in this series between NFC North rivals.
6 – Consecutive losses for the Eagles, who have lost their last four by at least 13 points apiece. This is Philly’s longest single-season losing streak since it dropped seven in a row at the end of 1994, before Andy Reid came to town. Adding insult to injury, or vice versa, both Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy are dealing with concussions. If those two are out for Week 12, Nick Foles and Bryce Brown, respectively, will get stats. “Monday Night Football’s” line between Carolina and host Philadelphia is off due to the quarterback quandary.
1 – Touchdowns scored by Miami’s offense in the last 10 quarters.
6.6 – Yards per rush being averaged by Bills’ running back C.J. Spiller, who was announced on Wednesday as the Week 12 starter vs. Indianapolis despite the return of backfield mate Fred Jackson.
36 – Average age of Charlie Batch (37) and Plaxico Burress (35), who will be a pass-catch combination for Pittsburgh against Cleveland on Sunday.
135-69 – Points by which the Raiders, who are last in the NFL in scoring defense, have been outscored in their last three games.