NFL Betting Predictions: Week 12 Opening Line Report and Picks
Just like July 4 is associated with baseball, so is Thanksgiving with the NFL. The first Turkey Day games were played in 1920, and the Lions and Cowboys have essentially both been locked into hosting the first two games since 1970 with a few exceptions on the Dallas side. There has been a prime-time game since 2006 when the NFL instituted its weekly Thursday night package.
The Thanksgiving games are always among the most-watched and most-wagered of the year. You will also find several Turkey Day-only props like most passing yards, most rushing yards from a player, etc., at the Doc's-affiliated sportsbooks.
With that said, we will do something a little different this week and preview the two early Thanksgiving games as our Opening Line Report. Per usual, we will stick with the Thursday nighter (Falcons-Saints) as a separate. My in-depth Sunday matchup for Week 12 will likely be Browns-Bengals (I'm sorry, I thought I was done with Cleveland, but the Browns continue to amuse me; and what Cincinnati recently did hiring-wise amused me even more) and the Monday night game (Titans-Texans). On the bye in Week 12 are the Chiefs and Rams after their Monday night showdown in L.A. They deserve a bye after that. We then are done with bye weeks.
Bears at Lions (+3, 44.5): Needless to say, the Lions and Cowboys have the most wins on Thanksgiving because they have played by far the most games on the holiday. Third on that list with 17 is the Chicago Bears, although that includes their time as the Staleys. It's Chicago's first game on Thanksgiving since visiting Green Bay in 2015 and winning 17-13. Last year, Detroit lost 30-23 on Turkey Day to Minnesota. The Lions have been streaky of late in this game. They lost nine straight from 2004-12 and won the next four before the 2017 loss. The Lions last hosted the Bears in this game in 2014 and won 34-17.
It's the third game between the teams in 12 days. On Nov. 11, the Bears had no trouble in beating the Lions 34-22 to end a 10-game losing streak in the division. Mitchell Trubisky threw for a career-high 355 yards along with three scores and a rushing TD. That game was over late in the second quarter when it was 26-0. It would have been much worse but Cody Parkey somehow clanked four kicks off the uprights, two PATs and two field goals.
Detroit was a 20-19 upset winner over visiting Carolina on Sunday as the Panthers scored a late TD and opted to try for 2 points and the win but a Cam Newton pass was incomplete. Good-looking Lions rookie running back Kerryon Johnson suffered a knee sprain and would seem to be unlikely here. The Bears took control of the North with a 25-20 win over Minnesota - Chicago's first back-to-back division wins in six years. The Chicago defense was spectacular in allowing just 268 yards and forcing three turnovers, one returned for a score. The pick: Bears (at -2.5) & under.
Redskins at Cowboys (-8, 41): Washington will become only the third team since 1970 (Cardinals and Bears) outside of Dallas or Detroit to play on the holiday for a third straight season. Two years ago, the Redskins lost in Dallas 31-26 as Ezekiel Elliott rushed for two scores. Kirk Cousins threw for 449 yards and three TDs in the loss. Last year, Washington hosted the Giants in the night game and it was a largely unwatchable 20-10 victory in the rain. There were 16 punts. The Skins have never won back-to-back Thursday games in their history, but they also rarely play on them consecutive weeks.
Here's hoping you weren't watching the Redskins' home loss to the Texans live on Sunday because Alex Smith had a Joe Theismann moment in essentially getting his leg snapped - Theismann, the former Redskins quarterback, was in attendance and Smith's injury came exactly 33 years to the day that Theismann was hurt against the Giants. Theismann was 35 at the time and never played again. Smith should be good to go next season. Colt McCoy will get his first start since Week 15 of the 2014 season. He was 6-for-12 for 54 yards with a TD in relief of Smith in the 23-21 loss to Houston. The Skins will have to sign a backup QB.
I didn't see the Cowboys going to Atlanta and winning Sunday, but they did 22-19. Brett Maher hit the winning 42-yard field goal as time expired. Dallas was up 10 about midway through the fourth. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 122 yards and a score and led the team with seven catches for 79 yards. The pick: Cowboys & under.
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