By Brien O’Donal
Surprises will always happen on the field. What isn’t a surprise is that the Browns still haven’t won a game. But the Giants did surprise the Chiefs, right? I did not see that one coming. The Chargers got a big win, but that had more to do with the Bills new quarterback. I am still sitting at home in shock at how far the Packers have fallen. Their playoff streak looks like it will end this year but at least the Patriots will continue theirs.
Thanksgiving is here and the three games to start the week are a great backdrop for your annual festivities. The playoff race is heating up and Turkey day starts it off with a bang.
Betting lines come courtesy of mybookie.lv on Thursday morning.
Vikings (8-2) at Lions (6-4)- Thursday 11:30 a.m. CT; Fox
Lions -2 1/2, O/U 45
The first game of the Thanksgiving Day trifecta happens to be the best one. Case Keenum continues to impress while Matthew Stafford has put the offense on his back. I like the Vikings defense and I suspect they will get their fair share of stops. I think the Lions will win at home and make the race for the NFC North a nail-biter. It may be close so I would put my money on the Vikings and I would take over 45 points.
Chargers (4-6) at Cowboys (5-5)- Thursday 3:30 p.m. CT; CBS
Chargers -2, O/U 47
The Cowboys have been less than exciting on offense without Ezekiel Elliott and they have slipped to 5-5. Their offensive line has been banged up and it shows. The Chargers have started to come on recently and Joey Bosa is a beast. The Chargers -2 is a pretty good line considering the Cowboys are at home on Thanksgiving where they like to really show off. That’s why I will take over 47 points in this game but I do think the Chargers win by more than the 2 points.
Giants (2-8) at Redskins (4-6)- Thursday 7:30 p.m. CT; NBC
Redskins -7, O/U 45
The Giants defense somehow took control of an Andy Reid team after a bye week and limited them to 9 points in an overtime win. I doubt they have the same success against a divisional foe. The Redskins desperately need a win and they have some offensive players getting healthy and rounding into form. I will go ahead and take the Redskins to win and cover 7 points but I will take the under 45 total.
Bills (5-5) at Chiefs (6-4)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; CBS
Chiefs -10, O/U 46 1/2
As I just mentioned, the Chiefs are coming off a disappointing effort against a previously 1 win Giants team. The Bills lost big to the Chargers because they decided to start a rookie quarterback. They have decided to play smart and go back to Tyrod Taylor. I think that will be a difference for the Bills because LeSean McCoy showed why he should be involved in the offense more and more. The Chiefs will be in serious need of a win and I will take them to do so at home. I think it might be right at 10 points so I don’t know if I will put money on it. If I did it would be on the Chiefs to win by more than 10. I will take the over 46 1/2.
Titans (6-4) at Colts (3-7)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Titans -3, O/U 46
The Titans have to keep pressure on the Jaguars and a divisional win against the Colts is just the thing. I do like what Jacoby Brissett is doing for the Colts offense and this will be a tough matchup on Sunday in Indy. I think the Titans still win and I think they get more than a field goal to cover the spread. I will bet on the under 46.
Browns (0-10) at Bengals (4-6)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; CBS
Bengals -8, O/U 38
The Browns are just a horrible team. Deshone Kizer is a turnover machine and their defense can’t get it together to help. The Bengals are trying to salvage a shot at a wild card berth so any win is a good win. I’m pretty confident that their defense can get the ball back to the offense and get them some easy points. I think it will be like pretty much every other Browns game this year, a lopsided loss. I will take the Bengals to win by more than 8 points and I will count on it being just a tad over 38.
Buccaneers (4-6) at Falcons (6-4)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Falcons -10, O/U 48 1/2
Each team had a good win last week but the Falcons’ was the more impressive. They know they are on the bubble for a playoff spot and this is a divisional game they can win at home. Ryan Fitzpatrick is back to his capable backup ways and their offense can do just enough sometimes. I don’t think it will be enough in Atlanta and the Falcons will get another win. I think they can do it by 10 points too, so I will place my bet there. I won’t take the over here. I think it will stay just a bit under that number.
Dolphins (4-6) at Patriots (8-2)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; CBS
Patriots -16 1/2, O/U 47 1/2
This is a pretty big number but one that is very possible the way the Patriots are playing on offense. They know how to jump out to big leads early and pour it on late. Their secondary has started to gel and they can make stops early and often. The Dolphins’ offense is a mess and I don’t think they will even offer a threat in this one. But this number is still too big for me so I will take the Patriots to win but not cover and the over 47 1/2.
Bears (3-7) at Eagles (9-1)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Eagles -14, O/U 44
The Eagles are just rolling now. They look far and away the #1 seed in the NFC but they don’t have a cake walk going forward. I think their second best asset is their defense and it should provide them a big game against a struggling Bears offense. I think Carson Wentz can put up points on anyone, including a decent Bears defense. I see the Eagles winning by more than 2 touchdowns because their defense will keep the Bears out of the end zone but I will take the under in this one.
Panthers (7-3) at Jets (4-6)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Panthers -5, O/U 40
The Panthers are playing surprisingly well and sit at 2nd place in their division. The Jets may have won all the games they’re going to win this year, but that doesn’t mean they can’t put up a fight. Carolina should have a good game so I will take the over 40 here. I think the Panthers win, but I would put my money on the Jets at 5 points.
Seahawks (6-4) at 49ers (1-9)- Sunday 3:05 p.m. CT; Fox
Seahawks -6 1/2, O/U 45
The 49ers are still fighting hard every week but the Seahawks have to win their divisional games and hope the Rams fall apart. The 49ers will stay at 1 win after this week and I think the Seahawks will do it by more than a touchdown. I am skeptical about the over/under here. My gut tells me it will be under but my gut is sometimes wrong. There may be 20 points from each team so I will take the over.
Saints (8-2) at Rams (7-3)- Sunday 3:25 p.m. CT; CBS
Rams -2 1/2, O/U 53 1/2
The battle of the offenses. But maybe not. The Rams couldn’t get much last week and fell way short in Minnesota. The Saints, on the other hand, mounted a comeback win against the Redskins for their 8th straight victory. The Rams are at home, but that won’t really help because very few fans show up. These defenses aren’t that bad either. I don’t know what will happen in this one. I really don’t. I can see the Rams winning by a field goal but I can also see them losing by that margin. I am going to go with the Saints here, I think Drew Brees’ experience leads his team to victory. I will take this as a high scoring game and hit the over 53 1/2.
Jaguars (7-3) at Cardinals (4-6)- Sunday 3:25 p.m. CT; CBS
Jaguars -5 1/2, O/U 38
I cannot and will not take the Jaguars to win any game by more than a field goal. I just can’t do it. But their defense is pretty awesome this year so I feel comfortable in picking them to win this game against the Cardinals. To sum it up: Jags win, Cardinals cover and total is over 38.
Broncos (3-7) at Raiders (4-6)- Sunday 3:25 p.m. CT; CBS
Raiders -5, O/U 43 1/2
The battle of the disappointing teams. The Raiders are the ones that have shown some offensive life this year while the Broncos defensive calling card has been revoked. I can’t believe these teams have fallen so far as to leave their divisional race so short of serious contenders. Paxton Lynch is the starting quarterback for the Broncos this week which means nothing. I just thought I would throw that in there to remind you how awful they are offensively. I think the Raiders get a solid win at home this week and the Broncos start preparing for the offseason. I will take the Raiders to cover 5 points in their victory but I will take the under 43 1/2.
Packers (5-5) at Steelers (8-2)- Sunday 7:30 p.m. CT; NBC
Steelers -14, O/U 43
Aaron Rodgers should win MVP this year. His injury provided proof positive that he is the only reason the Packers were a good team. The Steelers have come out of their early season slump to become a better offensive team. Their defense is pretty solid and we saw last week what a defense like that can do to the Packers. I will pick the Steelers to repeat the Ravens game plan and win big at home. I will expect them to cover 14 points against the hapless Packers and I will also take the over 43 points.
Texans (4-6) at Ravens (5-5)- Monday 7:30 p.m. CT; ESPN
Ravens -7, O/U 38
This line seems just about right. The Ravens defense is coming off a shutout victory against a different backup quarterback so they are good enough to put the heat on Tom Savage and make him struggle. The Texans are also without their #2 running back and there is a huge drop off to the #3 guy. Lamar Miller can’t win the game on his own and DeAndre Hopkins will be blanketed all day. I expect there to be another couple of turnovers by Savage that the Ravens will capitalize on and put up a big difference on the scoreboard. For that reason I will also take the total to go over 38. I think the Ravens offense will have too many short fields and the Texans will get some garbage time points.