NFL 2021 Thanksgiving and Hanukkah Week 12 Preview and Bettor’s Guide
LOS ANGELES, November 24, 2021 — Thanksgiving is a time when all Americans can gather together with loved ones for turkey, stuffing, and most importantly for letterheads, football. For Jewish football fans, this is a very special week on the gridiron. The first games are played on Thanksgiving Day, while the Sunday night game is played on the first night of Hanukkah. The Sunday afternoon games on the East Coast will be at halftime when Hanukkah starts.
We all get to gorge on football while enjoying mashed potatoes and giblet gravy. Jewish football fans continue Sunday night with potato pancakes known as latkes. These are normally served with sour cream or applesauce.
In a world often divided by politics and religion, football can unite us all. National Football fits neatly into virtually every religion and tradition. This is often done through food, glorious food. On a previous Thanksgiving Thursday, retired NFL commentator John Madden introduced the world to the turducken. A turducken is a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey. On this NFL Sunday, Jews provide the dessert.
The main ritual to on Hanukkah is to eat jelly donuts.
Thanksgiving is a day where Americans thank God for their freedom and celebrate a successful harvest.
It is a day where American settlers and American Indians came together in peace and fellowship. It is a true unifying holiday based on one of the most unifying moments in history. Hanukkah is a day where Jews thank God for their freedom and independence from their former rulers. Thanksgiving was a peaceful gathering while Hanukkah is steeped in war. It is a military celebration. Yet both holidays celebrate freedom and involve heavy doses of celebration and food.
The most popular American way to get together still remains football. In stadiums seating between 50,000 and 100,000 people, fans of all religions, races, and ethnicities get together for a common bond. Everyone is the color of the home team, except for brave fans of the road team who enter a hostile environment hoping to pull off an upset victory. Green Bay Packers fans love their bratwursts. Chicago Bears fans love their Chicago-style hot dogs. Buffalo Bills fans feast on wings.
Tailgates unite Americans, and Thanksgiving and Hanukkah represent the ultimate tailgates. In 2013, the two holidays overlapped into one beautiful Thanksgivingukkah. The next Thanksgivingukkah will not occur for another 1,700 years. The one after that will be 78,000 years away. This year the two holidays almost overlapped. One leading into the other is still great for fans of football and food.
So get your Thanksgiving dinner tables ready. Get in your comfy recliner chairs. Then on Sunday, Jewish football fans need to light their Hanukkah Menorahs and enjoy the Festival of Lights under the beautiful Sunday night lights of the NFL.
Happy Thanksgiving Thursday. Happy Hanukkah Sunday night. To quote Peyton Manning, “God bless you all, and God bless football.”
With that, here is the NFL 2021 Week 12 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by SportingNews.com and all times Eastern.
Thanksgiving Thursday, November 25, 2021, 12:30 p.m.
Chicago Bears (-3.5) at Detroit Lions —
The Lions are winless, witless, and worthless. Yet the Bears are not that much better. Rumors are swirling that Matt Nagy will be fired after this game regardless of the outcome. Both quarterback situations could involve backups. The Lions often pull surprises on Thanksgiving Day, but that mystique died down a long time ago. It’s tough to bet on a winless team, and the Bears played hard four days ago against Baltimore, but rumors that Nagy has lost the locker room might be enough for an upset. Upset special, Lions win outright.
Las Vegas Raiders at Dallas Cowboys (-7) —
The Cowboys have lost two straight and CeeDee Lamb and former Raiders receiver Amari Cooper are both out injured. It will not matter. The Raiders are a mess. The offense is boring, stake, and predictable. The Raiders dink and dunk too much and no longer stretch the field. Raiders defense takes way too many dumb penalties that extend the drives of opponents. And finally, the Raiders have lost three straight overall and two straight at home by margins of 27 and 19. The spread is high, but the Raiders have shown no heart. Cowboys cover.
Buffalo Bills (-4) at New Orleans Saints —
The Saints have also lost three straight after a 5-2 start. The Bills suffered a stunning home beatdown at the hands of Indianapolis. Trevor Siemian is not a scrub, and Taysom Hill just signed a creative new contract that caters to his versatility. The spread is too high for a road team playing against a Saints squad with offensive talent and a brilliant tactician in Sean Payton. Upset special, Saints win outright.
Sunday, November 28, 1:00 p.m.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3) at Indianapolis Colts —
The Buccaneers are rolling along, but the Colts after an 0-3 start have gone 6-2. The two losses were in overtime. Frank Reich’s squad just went into Buffalo and beat the daylights out of them. Tom Brady is as good as ever, but Carson Wentz is playing like a man with a lot to prove. At home, give the benefit of the doubt to the red hot team in blue. Upset special, Colts win outright.
New York Jets at Houston Texans (-3) —
The Texans went on the road and shocked Tennessee. The Jets lost to equally awful Miami. Both of these teams have been terrible, but the one thing that lifted up the Texans last week was the return of Tyrod Taylor. At home, trust Taylor over the revolving door of Jets quarterbacks that keep misfiring. Texans cover.
Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) at New York Giants —
The Giants just fired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. Neither of these teams are very good, although Jalen Hurts is definitely better than Daniel Jones. The Giants on paper have the better defense. At home, give Big Blue one final benefit of the doubt against an average division rival. Upset special, Giants win outright.
Carolina Panthers (-1) at Miami Dolphins —
The Dolphins beat the Jets, which proves nothing. The Panthers lost at home to a nameless team. Cam Newton is still better than Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins’ offense is boring. The Panthers have the better defense. Do not give up on Newton forever just yet. Christian McCaffrey will help power the Panthers to a win. Panthers cover.
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-5.5) —
The Titans suffered a shocking home loss to Houston. The Patriots have won five straight. Nevertheless, Mike Vrabel knows how to beat Bill Belichick. The spread is too high to punish the Titans for one bad loss. Mac Jones is proving to be a very effective game manager. The Patriots are winning games the way they did early in their dynasty, with hard-nosed running and defense. The Titans copied that blueprint but Derrick Henry is injured and Adrian Peterson was just released. Patriots win but fail to cover.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) —
The Steelers tied winless Detroit and then lost a heartbreaker at the Chargers. The Bengals went on the road and beat up the Raiders. This is the type of game the Steelers almost always win, but Joe Burrow is in a groove and Joe Mixon is running the ball well. These teams are too competitive to trust the extra half a point on the spread. Bengals win but fail to cover.
Atlanta Falcons (-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars —
Both teams are bad, but the Jaguars are worse. Matt Ryan has struggled all year, while Trevor Lawrence has not developed as fast as a top overall pick should. Ryan throws too many interceptions but the Jaguars lack the offensive firepower to pull off the upset. Falcons cover.
Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) at Denver Broncos —
The Chargers won a thriller over Pittsburgh, but they still blew a 17 point fourth-quarter lead before getting the victory. The Broncos had two weeks to prepare for this game. The Broncos can run the ball and play defense. Justin Herbert has not played many cold-weather games. Go with the home field and the altitude. Upset special, Broncos win outright.
Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers (-1) —
The Rams started 7-1 and the Packers began 8-1. Both teams have lost two straight. Aaron Rodgers is hobbled by a broken toe. Matthew Stafford is used to playing Green Bay from his time in Detroit. The Rams get Von Miller and O’Dell Beckham on the field. This is one of those games where the home field matters. Even at less than 100%, trust Rodgers at home in the cold. Packers cover.
Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers (-3) —
The Vikings won a thriller last week at home against Green Bay, while the 49ers have been on a roll. Jimmy Garoppolo is playing well and George Kittle has really stepped up. The 49ers are on the upswing. Go with the hot team against an uneven Minnesota team. 49ers cover.
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-4) —
The Ravens barely survived at lowly Chicago, but at home, they should handle business easily. The Browns are not the same team because Baker Mayfield is playing injured. Gutsy as his performances have been, he now faces a Ravens defense that will knock him around. Plus, the return of Lamar Jackson will give the Browns defense fits. Ravens cover.
Monday, November 29, 8:00 p.m.
Seattle Seahawks at Washington Stuffed Turduckens (-1) —
Seattle is only 3-7, and the return of Russell Wilson has not produced wins. The Stuffed Turduckens got an impressive road win at Carolina. Taylor Heinicke can play. Pete Carroll and Ron Rivera are both known for defense, but this year these teams have a defense that’s below the usual standards of their respective head coaches. Wilson still has great receivers. This is the week the Seahawks finally begin to turn things around. Seahawks cover.