It’s time to prepare for a holiday feast filled with food, family, and most importantly, football. The NFL has you covered with its annual slate of Thanksgiving Day matchups to entertain you during every course -- it also helps you get away from talking politics with your uncle or messing up the potato salad again (sorry, Mom).
The Detroit Lions kickstarted the tradition in 1934 when they hosted the Chicago Bears. It started as an effort to get fans to the game, and it's panned out quite well -- the Lions have played in every Thanksgiving matchup since, with the Dallas Cowboys joining as another permanent host in 1966.
In 2006, the league filled our plates with another matchup played by rotating teams each year. With three head-to-head matchups and years of Thanksgiving betting trends, we'll help you pick the best NFL odds for Week 12, hopefully putting a little extra cash in your wallet just in time for Black Friday.
NFL Thanksgiving Betting Tips ATS
Favored teams tend to leave the field feeling more thankful -- since 1984, the favorite has gone 57-36 ATS and 70-23 SU. That number has only improved since 2004, with the favorites holding a 46-8 overall record and going 36-18 ATS in the last 54 Thanksgiving Day games.
However, the home favorites have a difficult time covering the spreads – it’s probably the post-turkey coma that's been slowing them down. Home favorites are just 13-12 ATS since 2009, despite winning 20 of those 26 games straight up. The same can’t be said for road favorites, who showcased themselves by going 19-6 ATS and 24-1 SU in the same time frame.
On a day characterized by giving, you might be thinking about supporting the underdog -- unfortunately, that kind gesture likely won’t be giving much in return. Out of the last 41 games, home teams have been the underdog 18 times and are just 5-13 ATS. Last year, the visiting Buffalo Bills managed to eke out a 28-25 win over the Lions, but Detroit successfully covered a +9 spread. Little wins!
NFL Thanksgiving Betting Advice: Game Totals
One would assume that the OVER would be more likely to hit on Turkey Day games because players want to rush home to their families and the bountiful plates of food waiting for them. While that could be true, there’s no trend to be followed here.
Since 2009, game totals are 20-21 OVER/UNDER. Last year, the highest point total was between the Minnesota Vikings and the New England Patriots, surpassing a 42.5 total with 59 points at the end of the game -- the Lions and Cowboys went UNDER against the Bills and New York Giants respectively.
What NFL Teams Play On Thanksgiving Day?
There are three NFL games on Thanksgiving Day 2023.
The mainstay teams of Turkey Day, the Cowboys and Lions, are storming the field again -- let's start with the Cowboys. Although America's Team has been flying high in 2023, wager with caution. Dallas is a disappointing 3-11 ATS and a coin-flip 6-8 SU in its last 14 Thanksgiving Day NFL games. The Cowboys have failed to cover the spread in four straight years, but this could be the year they end the holiday curse. They kick off across from the Washington Commanders, a 4-7 team so far in 2023, and one they've managed to hold 6-4 against the spread in the past ten matchups.
The Lions’ Thanksgiving record isn’t any more impressive. Detroit holds a 7-7 ATS record and a 4-10 SU slate on Thanksgiving, hoping to snap a six-year losing streak and bring some thankfulness back to Motor City. However, there are a few bright spots -- the Lions are 3-1 ATS in their last four holiday appearances and hold a phenomenal 8-2 record in the 2023 regular season. They've gone 8-2 ATS and SU in their past 10 home games, showing all the signs of a team that's bound to bounce back this Thanksgiving.
How To Bet Thanksgiving Day Games
Although it’s a small sample size, the trends show it’s best to fade the two home dogs. But, with this slate of home teams and the way they’ve been performing so far in 2023, there's always an opportunity to break tradition.
Taking a peek at our Thanksgiving Day Betting Props article will give you enticing bet options and much-needed information about each team’s strengths and weaknesses -- if you need an NFL sportsbook to start your Thanksgiving picks off right, we've got a list of those for you too. If you want to take a look into how we expect each team to perform during Thanksgiving Day, check out our NFL Thanksgiving Picks page for even more NFL trends and matchup stats.