Football and Thanksgiving are the perfect marriage as no other sport is so uniquely tied to a holiday. The NFL has been playing games on Turkey Day for a full century now, and these days the league typically features three nationally broadcast games on the holiday. These games not only garner massive TV ratings, but are also some of the most wagered-on games of the year. Here is a betting guide with Thanksgiving football odds to get you ready for one of the best days on the US sports calendar.
This year, Thanksgiving in the US will take place on Nov. 26.
Thanksgiving football sportsbook offers
Sportsbooks are serving up plenty of exciting offers and odds boosts for Thanksgiving, including the following from FanDuel Sportsbook:
- Most passing yards: Watson +100, Stafford +180, Dalton +550, Smith +700
- Most rushing yards: Elliott +120, Gibson +250, D. Johnson +320, Peterson +950, Swift +1300, McKissic +1600, Pollard +2300, Prosise +3200, K. Johnson +3800
- Most receiving yards: McLaurin +190, Fuller +340, Cooper +500, Cooks +500, M. Jones +600, Lamb +1100, Gallup +1300, Hockenson +1500, Golladay +1600
- Ezekiel Elliott or Terry McLaurin to score the first TD: +370
- Extra Points Parlay – Over 51.5 in Texans/Lions, Lions +3.5 and Cowboys -2.5: +600
- Pat’s Thanksgiving Day Super Boost – Tony Pollard anytime TD and Cowboys to win: +560
Sign up for FanDuel Sportsbook here.
FOX Bet also has a great promo for new users on Thanksgiving:
- $1 Bet pays $50: Bet $1 on a team to score at least 1 point. If the team you bet on scores, you get $50 in free bets.
Sign up for FOX Bet here.
Thanksgiving football odds
Houston Texans at Detroit Lions – 12:30 p.m. ET
The interconference matchup between Houston () and Detroit () kicks off the Thanksgiving slate and arguably caries a bit less potential for offensive fireworks than it once did. Houston’s Deshaun Watson-helmed offense still features the likes of Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller, but Randall Cobb (toe) will miss this contest and Kenny Stills (quadriceps) may be sidelined as well. Meanwhile, the Lions’ Matthew Stafford is trying to play through a torn thumb ligament and rookie D’Andre Swift may be hard-pressed to return from the concussion that caused him to miss Week 11. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday morning that Swift is unlikely to play. Also, both Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola are nursing hip injuries that have led to absences of three and one game, respectively.
Nevertheless, factoring in both defenses are suspect and interconference battles always carry a bit of an element of the unknown, and this could evolve into a wire-to-wire affair.
The initial line for this game at FanDuel Sportsbook was Detroit at -1.5. But the Lions’ piling injuries and this past weekend’s results (a Lions shutout loss to the Panthers, and a Texans victory over New England), moved the spread to favor Houston.
The total for this game is set at ().
The game will mark the second time in franchise history the Texans play on Thanksgiving, with the first having come in a 34-31 overtime victory against the Lions back in 2012. Houston leads the all-time series between the teams, 3-1.
The line for this game took a big swing after Sunday’s Week 11 results. The Lions lost their home favorite status altogether, going from a 2.0-point projected advantage to between 2.5- and 3.0-point home underdogs over the early portion of the week. The potential absences are certainly weighing heavily, and Stafford completing a season-low 54.5% of his passes for season-worst 178 yards against the Panthers in Week 11 certainly doesn’t support the notion he can successfully negotiate his thumb issues.
Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys – 4:30 p.m. ET
This will mark the 121st meeting overall (including postseason) between Washington () and Dallas (), and is the tenth Thanksgiving Day game between the two. Despite Dak Prescott’s season-ending ankle injury, Dallas still brings plenty of star power into the matchup in the form of Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb.
Andy Dalton also took a step forward after returning from both a concussion and COVID-19 bout in Week 11 against the Vikings, upping Dallas’ offensive prospects to their highest point since Prescott went down.
The WFT also has reason for optimism on the offensive side of the ball despite the season-ending injury to Kyle Allen in Week 9. Alex Smith has stepped in and played well, with just a Matt Prater 59-yard field goal denying him a 2-0 mark as a starter thus far. Smith is complemented by a couple of young offensive pieces in Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin, both of whom can change a game on any given play.
The Cowboys are 8-1 against the WFT on Thanksgiving Day, and they lead the all-time series between the teams, 73-45-2.
The Cowboys apparently made an impression on the betting public with their Week 11 performance. They’ve moved from narrower 1.5-point favorites before Sunday’s game to a current figure of ().
The over/under for this late afternoon tilt sits at ().
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers – PPD
The Ravens vs. Steelers game which was originally scheduled for Thanksgiving night will now be played on Sunday afternoon due to positive COVID-19 tests within the Ravens organization.
Lookahead lines vs. current lines
Here is a glance at Thanksgiving football odds from when they initially appeared at FanDuel Sportsbook and where they are at now.
|Game||Lookahead line||Current spread|
|Houston at Detroit||Lions -1.5||Texans -3|
|Washington at Dallas||Cowboys -1.5||Cowboys -2.5|
How to Watch Thanksgiving football
Thanksgiving Day games are currently televised by CBS, FOX and NBC. The Lions always host the first game of the day, which kicks off at 12:30 p.m. ET, while the Cowboys host the middle game, which kicks off at 4:30pm ET. Since 2012, CBS and FOX have rotated the early and middle games on an annual basis. CBS gets the first game in even-numbered years, while FOX has that distinction in odd-numbered years.
This season’s Thanksgiving games will air as follows:
- Texans vs. Lions: CBS
- Washington Football Team vs. Cowboys: FOX
Games are also viewable on a number of authorized streaming services, such as Amazon Prime, NFL Network, FOX Sports GO, Twitch, PlayStation Vue, Hulu, Sling and YouTube TV for those who don’t have cable or satellite programming subscriptions. However, subscriptions to these streaming services are required.
How to bet Thanksgiving Day games like a sharp
Many of the same caveats that apply to betting Thursday Night Football games during the regular season are also applicable when it comes to looking at Thanksgiving football odds. After all, the teams are on the same type of shortened week as in a conventional Thursday Night Football contest, and the fact these games typically unfold in Week 12 of the regular season often makes the physical toll harder on players who have only three full days to recover from their prior contest.
All six teams playing in this year’s Thanksgiving Day games will have played their Week 11 games the previous Sunday. As is often the case, the visiting Thanksgiving Day teams will play home games in Week 11, in order to limit their travel to one trip on the short week. The Texans hosted the Patriots, the Washington Football Team hosted the Bengals and the Ravens faced the Titans.
Thanksgiving Day games can also offer the host teams a particularly pointed home-field advantage. The holiday contest is a long-entrenched tradition in Detroit and Dallas, where the Turkey Day game is a legitimate sell-out each (normal) season. It remains to be seen if the Lions will be allowing fans into Ford Field by Thanksgiving, while the Cowboys, which have hosted fans since the start of their 2020 home schedule, are expected to continue having the stands partially full.
Needless to say, home-field edge undeniably carries the most weight when the hosts field a quality, healthy team. As is the case with many late-season games, injuries are a pivotal factor when considering a bet on the contest. Key absences can derail even the most formidable of home-field advantages, especially on a short week.
- The Lions, who have suffered through extended periods of ineptitude, are just 37-41-2 (47.4%) straight-up in Thanksgiving Day games, including 4-7 since the 2009 season. In contrast, the Cowboys, who have enjoyed much more overall success than Detroit in the last several decades, are an impressive 31-20-1 (60.8%) straight-up in Thanksgiving games – although only 5-6 since 2009.
- Point spreads are a different story, with the Lions actually outperforming Dallas in that category over the last decade-plus. While the Lions are 6-5 ATS over their last 11 Thanksgiving Day games, the Cowboys are a paltry 2-9 ATS on the holiday over that same span.
- Favorites – be they visitor or host — have actually had a solid track record on Thanksgiving against the spread. Since 2009, favorites have gone 19-14 (57.6%) versus the number.
History of Thanksgiving Day football
The first official NFL games to be hosted on Thanksgiving Day occurred in 1920. However, in terms of current teams still playing annually on the holiday, the Detroit Lions have hosted a Thanksgiving Day game since the 1934 season, while the Dallas Cowboys, with the exception of the 1975 and 1977 seasons, have done the same since 1966, their seventh season in existence.
A third game, often between divisional rivals, was added as a primetime game beginning in the 2006 season with a Broncos vs. Chiefs tilt at Arrowhead Stadium. That contest aired on NFL Network. The only existing franchise that has yet to play in a Thanksgiving Day game is the Jacksonville Jaguars, which came into the league in 1995.
The first televised Thanksgiving Day game occurred in 1953 between the Lions and Packers, which aired on the now-defunct DuMont Network.