LOS ANGELES, November 23, 2017 — As Americans prepare to consume massive amounts of turkey and stuff themselves with the appropriately named stuffing, Thanksgiving football plays its important annual role. We should be thankful for our freedom and for the right to enjoy great games with friends, loved ones, and the occasional relative who needs to shut up during the game.
Football fans should be thankful that this NFL season is as wide open as it has ever been. There is no absolute unbeatable team. Except for the Cleveland Browns, all fans can point to some joy at different points this season.
Competitive balance is as strong as ever. In the AFC, 4-6 teams can be thankful for their survival. The Chargers, Raiders, Dolphins, Jets, Bengals, and Texans all have a shot at making the playoffs. This week begins weeding some of those teams out, but for now, they are all thankful to still be in the thick of things.
With that, Happy Thanksgiving and let’s play some football. Here is the NFL 2017 Week 12 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com and all times Eastern.
Thanksgiving Thursday, November 24, 2017, 12:30 p.m.
Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Detroit Lions — Minnesota’s defense played lights out in shutting down a very good Rams offense last week. However, betting against the Lions on Thanksgiving Day is always dicey. Matthew Stafford will be tested, and the Lions need this game to keep their division title hopes alive. Upset special, Lions win outright.
Los Angeles Chargers (-2) at Dallas Cowboys — Do not be fooled by the Chargers taking a 44 point lead last week or the Cowboys losing by 28 points. In Dallas, on Thanksgiving Day, the Cowboys will be fine if Dad Prescott gets any help from the running game. Even without Ezekiel Elliott, the Dallas offensive line matches up well against the tough San Diego pass rush. Upset special, Cowboys cover.
New York Giants at Washington Redskins (-7.5) — The Giants won a shocker last week at home, and now comes the big letdown. They are still an awful team on the road. The spread is high, but Kirk Cousins plays well at home. A garbage touchdown could defeat the spread. Redskins win but fail to cover.
Sunday, November 27, 1:00 p.m.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-9.5) — The Buccaneer shave won two straight but the Falcons have finally found their groove. Atlanta has too much talent and should overwhelm the Bucs easily. Falcons cover.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-8) — The Browns have been fighting hard, but they will remain winless. The Bengals desperately need this game to stay alive, and will play like it. Bengals cover.
Tennessee Titans (-3) at Indianapolis Colts — Tennessee is not a strong 6-4 team, but the Colts are horrendous. Tennessee should be able to run the ball effectively. The colts do not have the defense to stop Marcus Mariota. Titans cover.
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-10) — Nathan Peterman threw five interceptions in one half of a football game that saw the Bills fall behind 47-3. Tyrod Taylor returns. The Chiefs have lost four of their last five including to the woeful Giants. The Chiefs are the better team, but given how ugly they win games, the spread is too high. Chiefs win but fail to cover.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-16.5) — The Patriots are that good. The Dolphins are that bad. Tom Brady is playing as good as ever. Jay Cutler is playing as bad as ever. Brady has had some of his worst games at Miami, but this is in New England. The spread is ridiculous, but Miami lost 40-0 a few weeks ago to an average Baltimore team. Patriots cover.
Carolina Panthers (-4.5) at New York Jets — Carolina has a defense, but the Jets have been scrapping hard all year. Carolina’s offense is not the same without Kelvin Benjamin, and at home the Jets have been pulling upsets all year. Upset special, Jets win outright.
Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles (-13.5) — Mitchell Trubisky is not playing badly, but asking him to take on the Eagles defense is too much to ask. The spread is high, but after watching Philadelphia go on the road and wallop Dallas by 28 points, it is reasonable to ask them to beat an inferior Chicago team by half of that at home. Eagles cover.
Seattle Seahawks (-6.5) at San Francisco 49ers — The Seahawks are not the same without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. San Francisco has a defense, and many of their losses have been close. Seahawks win but fail to cover.
New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) — The Saints have won eight straight while the Rams ran into a Minnesota buzzsaw last week. This could be a shootout for the ages. At home, give the Rams a chance to finally slow the Saints down. Rams cover.
Jacksonville Jaguars (-5.5) at Arizona Cardinals — Do not be fooled by the record. Jacksonville has a defense, and Blake Bortles is not losing games for them. The Cardinals are down to Blaine Gabbert, The Cardinals play in a much tougher division, and Jacksonville is not a complete team yet. Upset special, Cardinals win outright.
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders (-5) — This is the Desperation Bowl. The 3-7 Broncos have lost six straight. They fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and are starting third-string quarterback Paxton Lynch. The 4-6 Raiders fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and have zero secondaries. John Elway called the Broncos soft, and nothing would make the Broncos happier to disprove that than ending the hopes of the Raiders. Upset special, Broncos win outright.
Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers (-14) — This Super Bowl rematch is now a mismatch thanks to Aaron Rodgers being out. The Packers were humiliated at home 23-0 last week and have no answers. They have been so good for so long that it is hard to recognize them as a bad team. That is what they are. Steelers cover.
Monday, November 28, 8:30 p.m.
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (-7) — Houston is hanging on by a thread while Baltimore has quietly improved to get to 5-5. Houston fell apart when Deshaun Watson went down. In Baltimore, the Ravens will handle their business. Ravens cover.