We’re going to keep this week’s intro short and sweet as most of you are probably traveling cross-country to spend time with family… which should give you plenty of time to read SportsChump!
And gamble, of course.
What’s Thanksgiving Thursday without a healthy dose of tryptophan coursing through our veins? Add to that some unwatchable football and you have an afternoon of slumber just waiting to happen. I’m calling it right now. We are going to see three good football teams play three lopsided football games. These games will be so yawn-inducing, you’ll have to resort to talking to your family for entertainment.
In the first game of our holiday weekend, we have the good, Detroit, and the bad, Green Bay. And that’s just game one. Go ahead and give that turkey leg to Jared Goff right now.
The second good? The Dallas Cowboys? The second bad? The Washington Commanders. Ron Rivera is going to take the fall for this season, which is a shame. His just isn’t a good team. He probably won’t get canned (cranberry) this week, but Washington’s head spot is tenuous considering Eric Bienemy just left Kansas City (bet they wish they had him back). Is Washington ready to proclaim him Rivera’s successor after only one season?
The nightcap good? The San Francisco 49ers. The nightcap bad? The Seattle Seahawks. This might be the most competitive of the three, but we’ll get to that.
This week, we bring back Heavy D who ranks near the top the charts for our three-year participants so you may want to listen to what he has to say.
Enjoy your family time, readers. And Happy Thanksgiving.
$50 on Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (-7 ½)
Last weekend, the Lions toyed with the Bears’ emotions to the point where it was downright rude. I had one friend so convinced the Bears were going to upset the Lions that he had to be sick to his stomach watching what happened in real time. The Bears were up, in Detroit, late, by 12 points… and they lost. I’m about to say something that won’t surprise you now but would have sounded ludicrous every season up until this one. The only stability in the NFC North resides in Detroit. The Bears still don’t know whether Justin Fields is their quarterback. The Packers don’t know whether Jordan Love is their answer either. And the Vikings, they’re just winging it. Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions are sitting pretty. This week, they are the first of the three bloodbath Thanksgiving games. There is no way this is going to be competitive. Not that he can run the football anyway, but Aaron Jones is out. Meanwhile, the Lions are humming. They’re 4-1 at home and have won 7 of their last 8. They’re staring a first round bye squarely in the face and are hardly about to let the Green Bay Packers mess that up for them. I could go on about why the Lions will win this in a blowout but that’d be about as boring as this game. Lions cover the 7 ½.
$40 on Washington Commanders at Dallas Cowboys (-9 ½)
Speaking of teams on cruise control, have you been paying attention to the Dallas Cowboys lately? They’ve won five of their last seven and those two losses came at San Francisco and Philadelphia. Sure, they just played back-to-back patsies (New York and Carolina) but they did what they were supposed to do, beating them by a combined 55 points. Prior to that, they beat the Rams by 23. The Cowboys dispose of bad teams and Washington is a bad team. They’ve lost seven of their last nine and can’t seem to find any sort of identity. The Cowboys are full of identity right now. Whether that translates to wins in January remains to be seen but we’re in November when the Cowboys prosper. They run the ball well. They defend well and Dak Prescott is tied for third in the league in touchdown passes. Everyone in the league respects Ron Rivera but after losing to the Giants last week, he’s developing that deer in the headlights look. Washington has too many question marks and the way they’re playing right now, the Cowboys have too many exclamation points. Chalk this as blowout number two on Thursday’s slate. Go for as many seconds as you want because this one will be just as unwatchable as the first. Cowboys cover the 9 ½.
$30 on San Francisco 49ers (-4) at Seattle Seahawks
In keeping with my promise, I’m taking all three Thanksgiving Day favorites to cover. Can we just move on to Black Friday already? Some of us have shopping to do. If San Francisco is healthy, they’re probably the best team in the league. Of course, keeping them healthy has been Kyle Shanahan’s biggest challenge. Strategically, this game sets up for a well-needed San Francisco win. After the Detroit Lions win their game, which they will, they’ll inch one game closer to solidifying a playoff bye. Once the Cowboys win their game, and they will, they’ll be 8-3 and tied with the San Francisco 49ers, who will need to beat the ‘Hawks to also be 8-3 and maintain their lead over Dallas as they hold the tiebreak. They’re not about to let some Pete Carroll scheming mess with their master plan. The Niners are too physical, and the Seahawks are walking wounded with their starting quarterback, running back and wide receiver one all questionable at best. Chalk this up to blowout number three. Niners cover the four.
$20 on Miami Dolphins (-6) at New York Jets
In keeping with my “holiday favorites” theme, let’s ride the Dolphins for one more, shall we? I was listening to Colin Cowherd the other day and noticed he failed to include the Miami Dolphins in his top ten teams. I’m not sure why that is but I’d put them in there comfortably. With four AFC teams locked at 7-3, this is a big game for the Dolphins, especially after seeing how vulnerable the Chiefs are. This is a game the Dolphins must prove to themselves they can win. With losses to Buffalo, Philly and KC, the Dolphins need to know they can beat good teams on the road because ultimately, they’re going to have to travel to win a playoff game. The Dolphins must be physical as well as fast. Sharpening their swords against one of the league’s top defenses will help that. The Jets have abandoned Zach Wilson, relegating him to third string, which means if Miami’s defense plays remotely well, they should give Tua and company enough opportunities to win this game. The Dolphins distance themselves and jockey for playoff position by covering the six in New York.
$10 on Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders (+9 ½)
After what we just saw on Monday night, why are we convinced the Chiefs can beat anyone by ten points? Four weeks ago, they beat the Chargers by 14 but that was in Arrowhead and the Chargers are horrible. The Chiefs haven’t won in a blowout since Week Three and I haven’t seen anything lately that tells me they’re ready to buck that trend. The Chiefs are having some serious issues and while the Raiders are bad, I’m not sure the Chiefs are capable of dominating anyone. Quite the contrary. We all saw that stat on Monday that the Chiefs haven’t scored in the fourth quarter in three straight games. Enter a division rival who is 4-1 at home and looking to kick an opponent while they’re down. I like Vegas all day to cover the 9 1/2 in this one.
Heavy D’s Picks for the Week (Career: 7-3, +$200)
(5) Dallas -11 The boys are legit, and I am no Cowboy fan. They are still prone to Dak being Dak, but no denying skill on both sides of the ball. Turkey day blowout!
(4) Eagles -3.5 The Bills just don’t seem to be the same team week in and week out. The Eagles are in the conversation for the best team in the league. I don’t think the short week hurts Philadelphia. Fly Eagles fly.
(3) Florida +6.5 This would’ve been my 5 point game when the spread opened at 11.5. This game became the battle of the backups when both starters were injured last week. Florida needs a win to become bowl eligible and has played to its competition in many weeks this year. Go Gators!
(2) Tennessee -27 Vanderbilt is terrible. Tennessee has been struggling but takes it out on their cross-state rival. Vols big!
(1) Ohio State +3 Karma finally gets to Michigan. The cheating scandal has plagued the Wolverines most of the season and comes back to get them. No Harbaugh likely costs them against a team on equal footing. There is no love between these two teams. Buckeyes in a close one.
KP’s Picks: The Wife Hates Sports
$50: Alabama Crimson Tide (-14.5) at Auburn Tigers
Let’s be bold and open with the Iron Bowl, one of the biggest rivalries in college sports. It’ll be interesting to see how the Tigers respond following its shocking 31-10 loss to New Mexico State. Looking forward to this game, maybe? Alabama has won three straight in the series and 11 of 15. Nine of those wins were by double digits. Over the last month, ‘Bama is rolling, with two 14-point wins over ranked teams (Tennessee and LSU), followed by blowout wins at Kentucky and versus Chattanooga. Jalen Milroe’s performance this season is surprisingly under-the-radar and I expect his run to continue facing Auburn’s defense that ranks 80th against the run and 32nd against the pass. Alabama covers on the road.
$40: San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) at Seattle Seahawks
We need at least one Turkey Day game in our top five, right? We’ll see how the stretchy pants hold up, as by kickoff, many of us will have consumed full plates of turkey, sides, and pie. As for the game, the Niners are rolling again. One reason being they are healthier on offense. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are a bit banged up on offense. Rookie RB Zach Charbonnet will get his shot finally, albeit facing a ferocious San Francisco front that ranks 3rd against the run. The Niners are a +10 in turnover differential (only the Steelers are better). As for the rivalry, the Niners have won three straight by an average of fifteen points. 12th man or not, I love San Francisco with this line. 49ers cover on the road.
$30: Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) at Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are the Chargers – again. Underachievement and losing close games. So, naturally, the 3 1/2 point line scares me a little bit, but when you look at the stats, my confidence rises. This will be the last season I open with high expectations for the Chargers (4-6). The Bill Belichick (to L.A.) rumors don’t surprise me, because the franchise has to be desperate considering the talent on the roster. As for the game, six of the Chargers games have featured a 4-point differential (or less). The Chargers are 1-5 in those games. The Ravens rank 3rd against the pass, while the Chargers are dead last. Baltimore is 3rd in total defense and leads the league in sacks, with 44. This Baltimore defense will be too much for Justin Herbert and the L.A. offense. Ravens cover on the road (barely).
$20: Pitt Panthers at Duke Blue Devils (-6)
Duke has faded a bit late, falling to 3-4 in the ACC and 6-5 overall. HC Mike Elko has emerged in some coaching rumors (not surprisingly). Despite its recent struggles, the Blue Devils are 5-1 at home and face a Pittsburgh team that is winless on the road (0-4). Pitt is 3-8 overall and has no bowl game motivation to spark it. Only pride. Expect Duke to lean on its run game, which ranks 40th in the nation. They will face a Pittsburgh run defense that ranks 82nd overall and has given up 19 TD on the ground. This is one of the games on the schedule that doesn’t scare me as far as heated rivalries that could surprise. Overall, I like Duke, despite its recent struggles. Blue Devils cover at home.
$10: Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans (-3.5)
Derrick Henry is getting up there in age, at least for a running back. The numbers show it. King Henry does tend to get stronger as the season progresses, and the numbers tend to spike. This is the time, if it’s going to happen this year, as Henry and the Titans face a Carolina defense that ranks 24th against the run (129.4 ypg allowed). The Titans, meanwhile, are floundering. Losers of three straight (and outscored 74-36 during that stretch), Tennessee is looking for answers on offense. Carolina could very well be that answer. The Panthers have just 17 sacks on the season (only the Bears have fewer). Less pressure in the pocket typically means more opportunities. If Henry is able to get going, the balance on offense is also likely to help. For Carolina, it’s a nightmare season that can’t end soon enough. Titans cover at home.