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Week 12 of the NFL season is upon us, but that’s not all. Week 12 means it’s time for one of the most highly anticipated slates of the year: Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving Day means a lot of things, but the big three are food, family, and NFL football.
This year’s slate will not disappoint. While the matchup between the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions may be a downer, we will get to see the evolving growth of QB Justin Fields on a national stage.
This game will open the slate at 12:30 p.m. ET. At least it will be over early.
The two other games feature battles between four teams that are all in the playoff race.
At 4:30, we’ll get the Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys. Later, the nightcap features the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints.
And remember, if your family annoys you, at least you have food and football to salvage the holiday.
All NFL gameday odds and lines are current as of Friday, November 19 at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Anthony Cervino is 24-12 on his NFL Best Bets for 2021 for The Game Day.
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Chicago Bears vs Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Prediction
Whether it is Jared Goff (oblique) or Tim Boyle under center for the Lions on Thanksgiving Day — Goff is dealing with an oblique injury — the Bears should win this football game.
While the Bears will attempt to salvage their season and make a run at a Wild Card berth, the most important goal of their 2021 campaign is to ensure the growth of rookie quarterback Justin Fields. Following a bumpy start, Fields is beginning to show promise.
On the other side, the 2021 Lions have been an utter disappointment. This may not be the popular opinion, but it’s not all Goff’s fault. He doesn’t have much to work with, and the Lions have been rebuilding for decades.
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Entering Week 11, the Bears are in the middle of a four-game losing streak and get an angry Ravens club coming off of an embarrassing loss to the Dolphins on national television. It is safe to assume the Ravens will take it out on the Bears.
Meanwhile, the Lions ended Week 11 with a tie and get a motivated Browns team coming off of a blowout loss to the Patriots.
It feels safe to say that both the Lions and Bears will enter Thanksgiving Day seeking a bounce back win. Barring a miraculous Bears Week 11 win, we can assume that they will both be playing for draft positioning at this point.
Expect the Bears to exit Detroit with a holiday win. Not only have the Bears won six of their past seven games over the Lions, but what the Lions do best on offense — which is run the football — is what the Bears do best on defense.
Chicago’s defense should smother the Lions while their offense continues to grow under Fields.
Bears vs Lions Thanksgiving Pick: Chicago Bears 24, Detroit Lions 17
Bears vs Lions Thanksgiving Best Bets
Bears vs Lions Best Bet: Bears -3 (-110) at Betway
Wager: 2 Units
No matter which quarterback is under center for the Lions, the Bears employ the better defense of the two teams. Chicago’s defense has its holes, but it is good enough to stifle a Lions’ offense that can deploy their running backs with force, but their passing attack can not keep them in games.
Look for the Bears to cover on the road and make this your NFL bet of the day.
Bears vs Lions Best Bet: Under 44.5 (-110) at TwinSpires
Wager: 2 Units
Both the Bears and Lions rank among the bottom five in offense heading into Week 11. They can’t get much worse, but I don’t expect them to get much better leaving Week 11, either.
The total has gone Under in three of the past six meetings between the Lions and Bears, hitting their last time out.
Las Vegas Raiders vs Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Prediction
Game two of the Thanksgiving Day slate between the Cowboys and Raiders will give us more offensive juice.
While the Raiders’ offense enters Week 11 ranked No. 23 in PPG (23.3), the Cowboys are the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL at a 31.6 PPG rate.
Both teams need this football game for different reasons.
The Cowboys are fighting for the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the coveted first-round bye. Currently, Dallas is slated as the No. 3 seed.
Meanwhile, the Raiders are on the outside looking in, but do have a Wild Card berth or even an AFC West title in their sights.
The Lions-Bears game may be underwhelming, but this one will lift anybody up from their Thanksgiving turkey nap. Expect firepower and points. A lot of them.
The key to this game for both teams will be defense. While the Raiders have played well at times, they give up points at a 25.6 PPG rate. If the Raiders are not at their best and fail to pressure Dak Prescott, they’ll be in for a long day.
The Dallas defense, surprisingly, is ranks No. 10 in fewest points surrendered per game at a 21.7 rate. They are also fifth in takeaways with 17.
If the Cowboys show up on both sides of the ball and play the way they have been (outside of the Broncos loss), they will have no issues pulling out a convincing win on Thanksgiving.
Raiders vs Cowboys Thanksgiving Pick: Dallas Cowboys 34, Las Vegas Raiders 24
Raiders vs Cowboys Thanksgiving Best Bets
Raiders vs Cowboys Best Bet: Cowboys -7 (-110) at TwinSpires
Wager: 1 Unit
The Cowboys have covered the spread in eight of their nine games entering Week 11 against Kansas City. They are one of the best covering teams in the NFL this season.
Look for that trend to continue on Thanksgiving. While the Raiders are 4-5 ATS, they have failed to cover in five of their past seven.
The Cowboys are the superior team on both sides of the ball and should dominate at home.
Raiders vs Cowboys Best Bet: Over 54.5 (-110) at Betway
Wager: 2 Units
Cowboys games are set with high totals for good reason this season, but they aren’t going to score in the 50s alone. They need the right dancing partner.
Derek Carr will be able to keep up with Prescott until the Cowboys ultimately pull away. I like the Over on this 54.5 point total and will bet it up to 55.
Check out more of our NFL Thanksgiving Betting Tips:
Buffalo Bills vs New Orleans Saints Thanksgiving Prediction
This Bills-Saints matchup is the only one on this slate that features two teams in the playoffs if the season ended today.
While the Bills are sitting at the No. 2 seed in the AFC, they are not flawless and have shown they can be beaten. Their defense has been more reliable than the offense, which comes as a surprise to most.
The Saints currently hold a Wild Card spot in the NFC. They are getting the job done by running the football, playing sound defense, and with savvy coaching by Sean Payton.
If the Bills are going to win this game, they must come out firing on all cylinders in the passing game, which they haven’t always done this season. We know the Saints have one of the best rushing defenses in the NFL, and we also know that the Bills struggle to run the football, making their offense more one-dimensional.
If the New Orleans defense can stop the run without an extra man in the box and their secondary shows up, they will have a legit shot at containing Josh Allen and his slew of weapons, which will keep the game close.
If this game is close at the end, I will give the Saints the edge at home. Whether it is Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara, or both leading the backfield, the two run effectively enough to move the chains, win time of possession and keep Allen on the sidelines.
However, if the Bills’ offense is rolling, I am not sure if the Trevor Siemian-led passing attack will pack enough punch to keep up with Allen despite the fact that the Saints are still a top-15 team in scoring offense.
Bills vs Saints Thanksgiving Pick: Buffalo Bills 27, New Orleans Saints 24
Bills vs Saints Thanksgiving Best Bets
Bills vs Saints Best Bet: Saints +4.5 (-109) at TwinSpires
Wager: 1 Unit
The Bills should win this game, but it will be close enough where the Saints cover.
The Saints are a tough out at home, and they tend to play up to superior opponents. Their seventh-ranked defense is also good enough to contain Josh Allen, but sometimes containing him means not letting him drop 30+ points on you.
I project the Bills to score 27, which will be just out of the reach of the Saints’ offense to win, but just enough to cover.
Bills vs Saints Best Bet: Over 47.5 (-110) at TwinSpires
Wager: 1 Unit
I have gone back and forth with the total in this game. However, I do trust the Over more. The Buffalo offense is scoring 31.1 PPG, while the Saints are at a 24.7 PPG rate.
While the Saints have the No. 1 ranked rushing defense, they are terrible against the pass. Josh Allen will exploit that and gash the Saints’ secondary at their weakest points.
The Bills’ defense is one of the best units in the NFL in their own right, but Sean Payton is savvy enough to find ways to score the football.
I would feel comfortable betting the Over up to 49.