Following a much needed bye week Matthew Stafford will also get a rare thanksgiving off to spend with his friends and family. In his 13-year-career, the former Detroit Lions quarterback has been featured in nine turkey-day games and currently holds the record for most passing yards on the day with 2,705, ahead of both Tony Romo (2,338 yards), and Troy Aikman (2,174 yards). As tradition will tell us, Stafford’s current passing yards will be the benchmark for future players to attempt to surpass as the Los Angeles Rams do not appear to be set for any Thanksgiving games in any foreseeable future.
With the Rams scheduled for a huge NFC matchup on Sunday, fans can spend the their Thursday celebration devoid of any stress in the prescience of their family and friends and enjoy the slate of games that includes: the Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions; the Las Vegas Raiders at the Dallas Cowboys; and the Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints. If you’re the betting type here is a breakdown of the Thanksgiving odds according to DraftKings Sportsbooks.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
With Chicago as 3-point favorites to kick off the holiday slate, both the Bears and the Lions are coming off of three point losses in Week 11 along with questions at the most important position in Football. On Monday morning, Ian Rapoport reported that Chicago would be officially starting backup quarterback Andy Dalton against the Lions. While filling in for Justin Fields against the Baltimore Ravens, Dalton nearly pulled off the win in a solid performance off of the bench. He completed 11 of his 23 attempts for 201 yards and two touchdowns. A game winning drive from Ravens backup quarterback Tyler Huntley sealed the win for the AFC contenders and gave the Bears their seventh loss of the season.
Detroit quarterback Jared Goff is listed as questionable going into Thursday’s matchup after being kept out of their Week 11 matchup against the Cleveland Browns with an oblique injury. The story of that game had nothing to do with quarterback play, however, as the Lions defense played impressively well. They forced two turnovers and held Baker Mayfield to just 176 yards on 29 attempts. Tim Boyle, who played in relief of Goff, could not get his team over the hump and finished the day with just 77 yards on 23 attempts with two interceptions of his own. With the Lions defensive unit looking tough in the last couple weeks improved quarterback play could earn Detroit’s first win of the season.
Las Vegas Raiders at Dallas Cowboys
In a historic Thanksgiving Day tradition, the Dallas Cowboys are hosting the game of the day as 7-point favorites. Both the Raiders and the Cowboys will be looking for bounce-back games after suffering losses in Week 11. The Raiders defense could not overcome an onslaught from Bengals running back Joe Mixon who finish the game with 123 yards on 30 attempts and two touchdowns while their offense struggled to get much going in the pass game and the run game. Derek Carr finished the game with 215 yards passing, an interception and a fumble, and just one touchdown on 27 attempts. While playing behind nearly the entire game running back Josh Jacobs only managed 37 yards on nine attempts. The Raiders are currently on a three game losing streak.
JOE MIXON IS SMASHING pic.twitter.com/WDj1pCIUpk— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) November 21, 2021
The Cowboys have their own issues. After lighting the league on fire with their electric offense, they fell off last week after Amari Cooper was held out of the game due to testing positive for COVID-19 and only posted nine points against the Kansas City Chiefs. Dallas will have to figure out how to live without their star receiver once again on Thursday as Cooper continues to traverse through protocol. The usual-sturdy Cowboy offensive line was easily handled by the Chiefs pass rush as Prescott was sacked five times. The veteran quarterback turned the ball over three times, throwing two interceptions and fumbling twice (one of which was recovered by the defense). Without Cooper, Michael Gallup received his most attention of the season after recently coming back from injured reserve with 10 targets on the day.
Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints
Thanksgiving night closes out with the Bills favored by 6.5 points over the Saints. As is the case with all the teams playing on Thanksgiving, both the Buffalo Bills and the New Orleans Saints will be looking to recover from embarrassing losses. The Bills are coming off a 15-41 smashing from the Indianapolis Colts. Josh Allen finished the game with 209 yards passing and two touchdowns but could not overcome his two interceptions as the Bills offense struggled as a whole against their opposition.
On the other side of the ball the Bills defense allowed second year running back Jonathan Taylor to have his best game as a professional player and one of the best efforts by a single player in NFL history. Taylor finished the game with 225 total scrimmage yards along with 5 touchdowns, four of which came on the ground and the other through the air. If the defense cannot come up with an answer against the run game quickly, Saints running back Alvin Kamara will surely be ready to exploit the Bills weaknesses and put up his own big game. Though Buffalo has at times been questionable on both sides of the ball this season, they have yet to lose two games in a row—a trend they hope to continue in Week 12.
The Saints have lost two games in a row and are in fact on a three game losing streak after falling victim to a 29-40 loss against the Philadelphia Eagles, 26 of their 29 points coming in the fourth quarter. New Orleans have yet to win a game since starting quarterback Jameis Winston was lost to the season due to a torn ACL against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Week 8 victory. Trevor Siemian has played decently in close games against the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans in recent weeks but could not get his offense moving until late in the fourth quarter against the Eagles. He finished the game with 214 yards, three touchdowns through the air and one on the ground, but also put his team in a bad spot early when he threw a pick-six to Darius Slay.
Though the defense contained Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts through the air they could not contain him nor his fellow rushers on the ground. Hurts finished the game with 69 yards rushing and ran three touchdowns into the end zone with his legs. As whole the unit they finished with 242 total yards on the ground which was good enough for 40 points and a win over a Saints defense that entered the game as one of the top run-stuffers in the league. New Orleans will have to fall back into form quickly when they face yet another mobile quarterback this week.
Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Nov. 28
As 1-point favorites, the Rams themselves will be looking for a comeback to the win column after two straight embarrassing losses in primetime against the Titans and the San Francisco 49ers. Coming back from the bye week, Odell Beckham Jr. should look much improved after some time building rapport with Stafford. Von Miller will also look to get his first sack in a Rams uniform after some time to get integrated into the Raheem Morris’ defense. A win against one the NFC’s best teams should get LA back on track to hosting a home Super Bowl — and get revenge on the team that knocked them out of the divisional round during the playoffs last season.
The Green Bay Packers are also hoping to get back into the win column after a disheartening 31-34 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Aaron Rodgers had his best game of the season with a 148.4 quarterback rating. He completed 23 of his 33 attempts that was good for 385 yards passing and four touchdowns, including what seemed to be the game winner in the final minutes of the game. However, after a Packer interception was reversed on the final drive of the game, Vikings quarterback Kurt Cousins rebounded and got his team within in field goal range and a walk off win when kicker Greg Joseph’s kick was good from 29 yards out.
A stout defense in recent weeks could not seal the win for the Packers in Week 11, can they improve this Sunday against a Rams offense that has struggled in recent weeks?
Let me know in the comments, along with your thoughts on the Thanksgiving matchups on Thursday! Who are you betting on?