Scott Shapiro's Thanksgiving Day NFL Thoughts and Selections
I am still catching my breath from the shootout in the Coliseum where the Los Angeles Rams outdueled Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the highest scoring contest in Monday Night Football history 54-51.
This year I am thankful for a lot of things, but the Eagles offense is not one of them. Philadelphia let me down big time when scoring just 7 points last week to keep my Week 11 “Top Play” UNDER the 56-point total (I was on the over). One of the great sports weeks during the year should help alleviate my pain, including a trio of games on Thanksgiving Day.
Here are my thoughts on the Thursday games that hopefully get me back on the right track to start Week 12:
Chicago Bears (-3.5) at Detroit Lions (O/U 45)
The holiday slate gets started with an NFC North showdown between the first-place Bears and the last-place Lions. The Bears have a huge shot to win the division for the first time since 2010, but they are in a tough spot on Thursday. I question how they will handle themselves on short rest after a massive win on Sunday night against the Vikings.
When these teams met on November 11 in Chicago, the Bears jumped out to an early 26-0 lead and held off a late run from Matthew Stafford and the Lions to win 34-22. I would be surprised though if this game got off to a similar start considering the Lions success of late on “Turkey Day.” They lost last year to Minnesota, but prior to that had rattled off 4 consecutive victories at Ford Field.
Mitchell Trubisky has won 7 games as the starter in 2018 and has shown signs of being a solid NFL quarterback, but he also has shown some limitations as well. I still do not trust him to cover spreads away from home.
There is little doubt that the Bears are the better team in 2018, but the Lions are in a better spot.Take the points and the UNDER
Thanksgiving NFL Pick - Detroit Lions +3.5 Thanksgiving NFL Pick - UNDER 45.0
Dallas Cowboys (-7.5) vs Washington Redskins (O/U 40.5)
A couple of weeks ago after a Monday Night home loss to the Titans, the narrative was that the Cowboys were finished. Now two weeks later they are the favorites to win the NFC East after winning their second straight road game in Atlanta in Week 11.
Dallas has been a different offense since the addition of Amari Cooper from the Raiders and they have committed to their best offensive asset in Ezekiel Elliott. Combine that with a talented defense and a quarterback that has played better of late and you have a team on the rise in the National Football Conference.
The Redskins enter Thanksgiving in first place, but they lost quarterback Alex Smith to a gruesome leg injury during their 23-21 loss to the Houston Texans. This just makes things worse for a team that has been banged up for weeks with key injuries to the offensive line and at the skilled position players. To their credit, they've hung in there and now turn to veteran quarterback Colt McCoy who honestly is not that much of a downgrade from Smith. McCoy has filled in admirably when called upon in years past. He is one of the league’s better backups.
Dallas has played well as of late, but I prefer them in the underdog role as opposed to a significant home favorite. I expect the Boys to find a way to win this one, but laying a touchdown in a divisional battle seems less than ideal.
I will ride the underdog and the UNDER in this one as well.
Thanksgiving NFL Pick - Washington Redskins +7.5 Thanksgiving NFL Pick - UNDER 40.5
New Orleans Saints (-12) vs Atlanta Falcons (O/U 60)
The Saints are pretty good at football.
Quarterback Drew Brees is my vote for Most Valuable Player through 11 weeks and their defense has been better than expected. They put a 9-game win streak on the line against division rival Atlanta in the Thanksgiving Day finale.
The Falcons are a desperate team having lost in back-to-back weeks as favorites to the Browns and the Cowboys. They certainly have firepower on offense to put up points against New Orleans, but it is hard to imagine their defense stopping the high-powered Saints attack too often in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Look for the Saints to get the ball to Alvin Kamara early and often given the Falcons inability to cover running backs in the passing game.
Much like the first game between these two teams in Atlanta, I expect a ton of points and a high-scoring affair in the “Big Easy”, but 60 is a bit too high and 12 points is too many to lay.
Scott Shapiro’s NFL Record 29-21-4 (+5 units)