Hi all. 3 from 4 on our bets from Sunday evening. Arizona (-4.5) denied us the 4-timer in the late game. Despite a lead of 14 points in the final quarter they suffered a late collapse and needed a field goal with time expiring to win by 3.
Now on to one of the biggest days of the NFL season – thanksgiving! For us fans here in the British Isles there’s certainly plenty to be thankful for with Sky screening all three games live as part of a 24hour marathon of NFL on Sky Sports 3. With that in mind I thought it best to offer a midweek instalment of some of the better value on offer.
Philadelphia Eagles Vs Detroit Lions (5.30pm)
Calvin Johnson – A/T touchdown scorer @5/6
The action kicks off with perennial Thanksgiving Day hosts, the Detroit Lions clashing with the Philadelphia Eagles. I remember when the NFL schedule came out for this season I had circled this game as being one to watch. In reality it hasn’t panned out so well for either with a sum total of 7 wins between them. From a handicap standpoint the game is a coin flip. The form and momentum is with the Lions after winning their last 2 but the Eagles, despite their record, are only one game off the lead in their division so they have more at stake. Amazingly they the only team who have played on Thanksgiving more than once, that is undefeated having a 6-0 record in the turkey day game! Gun to my head though, I couldn’t call the winner of this game with any real conviction.
While searching through the markets though, I did come across one real piece of real value. Calvin Johnson to score a touchdown at any point is 5/6. While ‘Megatron’ is having a poor season by his own lofty standards, this is a tremendous price. Detroit has the poorest running game in the NFL meaning they will have to air the ball out a lot to win. The Eagles pass defence is only middle of the road and they have given up 10 touchdowns through the air over the last three games. Also consider that having spent his entire career in Detroit, Johnson plays on thanksgiving every year. In the 8 thanksgiving games he has played, he has scored a total of 8 touchdowns, an NFL record. In fact you have to go back to 2008 to find the last (and only time) he didn’t grab a TD on thanksgiving (He scored 2 in last year’s game.) Optimists could go for two TDS or more at 7/1 but in the anytime scorer market you are essentially getting even money on a guy who’s proved he’s Mr Thanksgiving!
Carolina Panthers Vs Dallas Cowboys (9.30pm)
Carolina Panthers Win @ 21/20
I have to say it was with a stunned disbelief that I looked at the odds of this game a couple of days ago. The undefeated Carolina Panthers (10-0) as an underdog to the 3-7 Dallas Cowboys?? Seems legit! Delving a little bit deeper though perhaps you can see where the odds makers are coming from. Dallas had won 2 from 2 this season when star quarterback Tony Romo went down. Without him at the helm they went on to lose their next 7 games before he returned to lead them to victory last week. So, technically this is a battle of two undefeated quarterbacks. Dallas has a team packed with talent. They can run the ball well and now with Romo back, can get the most out of their dangerous receiving core. Undoubtedly this is a team that is capable of beating Carolina and this is the toughest test they will have faced to date.
However despite all that it’s hard not to feel good at getting the Panthers at odds against (though perhaps that’s the trap the bookies are laying!) They are the first team ever to start a season with 10 straight wins after having a losing record the year before and the cornerstone of that success has been their strong defence. Dallas may have a high powered offence but Carolina have faced plenty of those this season and triumphed every time. Dez Bryant still doesn’t look completely 100% following his return from injury and while Romo was efficient, he did look a little rusty in his return last week throwing a couple of picks. The Panthers will punish any poor from Romo who can be prone to trying to force things. I expect them to use a heavy dose of RB Jonathan Stewart as Dallas at yet to prove they can stop the run and that should open up the passing lanes for Cam Newton to exploit.
Chicago Bears Vs Green Bay Packers (1.30am – Friday morning)
Green Bay Packers -8.5 @ 10/11
One of the oldest and fiercest NFL rivalries will once again be played out in Thanksgivings late game as the Chicago Bears travel to Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers. History will be high on the agenda as the Packers retire the number of legendary quarterback Brett Favre in a ceremony at half time. All time in the 96 years of this series, the record stands at 93-92-6 in favour of the Bears. Expect that record to be evened up after this game. Here are some more stats! Bears quarterback Jay cutler is 1-11 all time against the Packers. He’s also 0-4 when facing them at Lambeau Field, throwing 3 TDs to 12 interceptions and has been sacked 18 times. This has not been a good matchup for him!
The Packers meanwhile seem to have righted a lot of their problems last weekend. On defence they finally managed to generate some pass rush and also dealt with the ground threat posed by Adrian Peterson. Their own running game finally got going with Eddie Lacy having his most productive game of the season and Aaron Rodgers looked back to his assured best. While 8and ½ points is a large handicap in a divisional game, I think the Packers should cover in an emotion charged night.
My favoured double would be the first two at odds of almost 3/1. I’ll be back on Sunday to preview the best bets of the weekend games.
Best of luck.