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How to Bet NFL Thanksgiving Day Games

Thanksgiving Day is a great holiday for us Americans. It’s an opportunity for us to drink, eat (maybe too much), nap (after all the eating) and watch football. There’s no better way to spend time with your family.

You might opt to be just a fan of the great game of pigskin. Or if you’re like me, you’ll want to put your money on something. But how should you bet NFL games on Thanksgiving Day? With only three games on the slate, is there an edge at all or should you fade the board because the lines should be damn near perfect?

Since 2009, 30 NFL games have been played on Thanksgiving Day, with three games each year.

Here’s what the data shows:

Betting ATS

Favorites have had a slight edge on Thanksgiving Day, going 18-12 ATS and 24-6 SU since 2009. Even better, favorites are a perfect 6-0 SU and ATS in the last two years.

Home favorites have to cover, right? It’s a holiday and teams want to show up for their fans, right? Probably, yes, but from a betting perspective, that does not necessarily translate to covering spreads. In fact, home favorites are just 10-9 ATS since 2009 despite winning 14 of those 19 games straight up.

Who doesn’t love taking the underdog? As you recall, they are having a great season (still). Through 12 weeks of the NFL campaign, underdogs are 94-77-5 ATS (55 percent). The numbers have dipped a bit from a few weeks back when underdogs were hitting at an insane 60 percent. Unfortunately, that has not been the case for previous Thanksgiving Day games. Out of the last 30 games, home teams have been the underdog 11 times and in that situation are a woeful 2-9 ATS.

Betting Game Totals

One would assume that the OVER would be more likely to hit on Turkey Day games because it’s a holiday and players want to rush home to their families. Well, that is probably true that players would like to spend time with their families but there’s no edge to be had here. Since 2009, game totals are a near 50 percent, going 14-16 OVER/UNDER.

Repeat NFL Teams

The three games on the slate for Thanksgiving 2019 are:

Chicago Bears -3 at Detroit Lions

Buffalo Bills at Dallas Cowboys -7

New Orleans Saints -7 at Atlanta Falcons

Odds courtesy of BetOnline.

No teams have seen more Turkey Day action than the Cowboys and Lions, with both teams having played 10 times on Thanksgiving since 2009. The Cowboys, coming off a big road loss to the New England Patriots, will be looking to make a comeback this week. If you were planning on firing a play on Dem Boyz, tread softly as they are a lousy 2-8 ATS and a coin-flip 5-5 SU in their last 10 Thanksgiving Day NFL games. The Lions historically have not done much better, posting a 5-5 ATS record and a 4-6 SU mark.

As for the other teams, this will be the Bills’ first Thanksgiving Day game in the last 10 years. The Saints have two games under their belt in that span, one from 2018 and the other in 2010, for a 2-0 ATS and SU record. Meanwhile, the Falcons have played just one game, last year, and it was against the Saints. They lost 31-17, failing to cover as 12.5-point dogs. The Bears have played three games, going 2-1 ATS and SU.

How to Bet Thanksgiving Day Games

Although it’s a small sample size, it does appear best to fade the two home dogs. If you were a true gambler, you could even parlay the three favorites on the moneyline. Of course, as I always preach, practice bankroll management and never bet more than you can afford to lose.

Another option is to not bet at all. Instead, spend the day with your family and friends for a Friendsgiving or make small friendly wagers with loved ones like buying a six-pack or taking a shot for every interception Mitchell Trubisky throws.

(Just kidding. Don’t do that!)

Whatever you decide, have a happy Thanksgiving. May it bring you a full belly, a good nap and maybe some extra dough.

For more stats and trends, check out Joe’s Thanksgiving Day Betting Primer.