We open up Week 12 of the NFL season with three games featuring six teams playing on short weeks after all of them lost in Week 11. Still, what would Thanksgiving be without NFL football, especially with the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys as the traditional hosts.
Nostrathomas was sailing along well last week, at least until the Chargers, “Chargered” away a 17-point lead last Sunday night. Once all the swearing was done, I finished 10-5 straight-up and 8-7 against the spread.
For the 2021 NFL season, Nostrathomas is now 102-57-1 straight-up and 76-81-2 against the spread. Now, let’s see what three courses the NFL has put together for us on this Thanksgiving Day!
Chicago Bears vs Detroit Lions +3; Over/Under 41.5 (12:30PM ET; Ford Field, Detroit, MI)
The Detroit Lions have been the cure for what ails a lot of teams this season but the Chicago Bears may be so far gone by now to benefit.
The question of the week in Chicago hasn’t been about how the Bears offense will perform with Andy Dalton at the controls or whether they’ll have safety Eddie Jackson back in the secondary for this game. It has been whether Matt Nagy will still be the head coach for the Bears when this game is over.
The Bears are in such an organizational mess that the current regime of general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy are certain to be out on Black Monday after the final game of the season. Don’t be surprised if speculation about whether Nagy will last through the end of the season is the most noise the Bears make the rest of the way.
As for how the game itself breaks down, Andy Dalton will be starting for the Bears and late Wednesday it was announced that Jared Goff would be starting for Detroit. Both quarterbacks are facing defenses that are vulnerable against through the air but they have struggled to find success passing the ball.
Neither team is gifted with an excess of receiving talent. Goff will be targeting tight end T.J. Hockinson, who has 54 catches in 73 targets. With Allen Robinson declared out for this game, Dalton will be working with receivers Darnell Mooney and Marquise Goodwin along with tight end Cole Kmet if Chicago decides to get him involved in the offense this week.
For both these teams, any consistent offense will be generated on the ground. For the Bears, David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert have been the keys to driving their offense down the field. For Detroit, Goff will be relying on D’Andre Swift, both on the ground and through the air.
In their last two games, the Lions have changed the focus of their offense to a ground attack that has featured heavy doses of Swift on the ground. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers he carried the ball 33 times for 130 yards and against the Cleveland Browns, rushed 14 times for 136 yards and one touchdown.
Swift has also been carrying the Lions pass attack on his back. He’s second on the team in targets with 67 and has caught 53 for 420-yards and two touchdowns.
What this game boils down to is, Dalton doesn’t have the accuracy stats to inspire confidence that he can exploit Detroit’s secondary. Also, the Lions have made Swift the focal point of their offense both on the ground and through the air. The Bears are going to be challenged to stop him in both phases.
Considering their record, The Lions are 6-4 against the spread this season. Take the home team and the points in this game. Also, considering the state of their passing attacks, both teams are going to be letting the air out of the football so add the “under 41.5” to your bet.
Detroit Lions 19 Chicago Bears 16
Las Vegas Raiders vs Dallas Cowboys -7.5 (4:30PM ET; AT&T Stadium, Dallas, TX)
The Las Vegas Raiders have gone 0-3 since their bye week. In Week 11, a tight battle against the Cincinnati Bengals got away from them in the fourth quarter, allowing 19 points in a 32-13 loss.
The Dallas Cowboys are also coming off a loss in Week 11, a 19-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Quarterback Dak Prescott struggled without Amari Cooper in the lineup. He completed 28 passes but for only 216 yards with two interceptions.
Cooper will also be sitting for this game because of Covid protocols and his unvaccinated status. Dallas also may be without CeeDee Lamb. He is in concussion protocol and may not have cleared by game time although he practiced on Wednesday.
Look for the Cowboys to run Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliot more in this game with Michael Gallup taking the bulk of the work at receiver.
With their injury problems, this is the perfect time for the Raiders to be facing Dallas but they’ve been having plenty of problems of their own.
Quarterback Derek Carr only threw four interceptions in his first six games but has thrown five in his last four games. His completions and passing yards have also been dropping in his last three games.
Dallas may be dealing with injuries but are expected to have left tackle Tyron Smith back to protect Prescott’s blind side. That’s an important piece of Dallas’ offense to get back. They also have Micah Parsons playing like the defensive rookie of the year and Travon Diggs playing like an All-Pro cornerback.
It’s not an easy choice but the Raiders are falling fast and Dallas should enjoy home cooking. Take the Cowboys to cover the seven and the hook.
Dallas Cowboys 29 Las Vegas Raiders 20
Buffalo Bills -6 vs New Orleans Saints (8:20PM ET; Caesar’s Superdome, New Orleans, LA)
Both these teams are coming off embarrassing losses last Sunday. The difference for this week is, the Buffalo Bills will be trying to keep themselves in the race for the top of the AFC East and the New Orleans Saints will be attempting to strengthen their tentative hold on a playoff spot in the NFC.
The issue for the Saints in this game, just like last week, is injuries. Starting tackle Ryan Ramczyk will miss his second straight week with a knee injury with New Orleans’ other starting tackle, Terron Armstead, questionable with knee and shoulder injuries.
Running back Alvin Kamara is also out for this game which is devastating for the Saints considering what Colts running back Jonathan did to Buffalo’s defense last Sunday.
The New Orleans offense has looked better than it is the last three weeks due to solid garbage time offense. They scored 22 fourth quarter points against both the Falcons and Eagles plus 15 second half points against the Titans and
Buffalo has struggled against some of the better teams in the league this season but the Saints aren’t one of those anymore. Take the Bills to finish turkey day with the win and cover.
Buffalo Bills 30 New Orleans Saints 23
Point spreads are from VegasInsider.com and are accurate as of this writing.