The model believes an edge exists in two of the three Thanksgiving Day games. In case you needed an excuse to make the Holiday’s more stressful, here’s how you should attack it. Injuries are updated here.
Houston @ Detroit
Wager: DET +3.0
Sizing: 1 unit
Spread breakdown: Looks like the line is sticking at 3. Naturally, if it falls below 3 it’s no longer a great bet. I’d take anything 3 or better.
Matchup Breakdown: The Texans offense is 9th in EPA/play and 14th in DVOA. Like any great offense, they excel at the QB position – DeShaun Watson doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the fantastic 2020 campaign he’s putting together. He’s completing 68.9% of his passes, gaining 8.5 yards per attempt, and is 4th among all QBs in PFF grade. He’ll look mostly to Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks, though TE Jordan Akins and RB Duke Johnson will get some work as well. The offensive line is, as usual, terrible, but they should get back LT Laremy Tunsil (illness). The defense is dead last in EPA/play and 29th in DVOA. I have nothing nice to say about them, so I won’t say anything at all. Opposing offenses can feel free to pick on whichever player they want.
We’re taking a Lions team that just got shut out against the fucking Panthers. How’s that for fading recency bias? Matt Stafford will have more time to recover from his thumb injury, and as always, it’s more important to look at the entire season rather than the last few games. The Lions are 24th in EPA/play, but that ranking is due to the schedule of opposing defenses, which has been 3rd hardest in the league. Their offensive DVOA of 15 is more accurate to where they’re at. When we made the bet, it looked like there was a shot Kenny Golladay would return — he was limited in practice on Monday — but then he didn’t practice Tuesday, so that’s less than ideal. Without Golladay, Marin Jones Jr and TJ Hockenson will be Stafford’s favorite targets. Their offensive line isn’t anything special, but they really just need to contain JJ Watt to give Stafford time to throw and the running game room to operate. On the defensive side, they’re 29th in EPA/play and 25th in DVOA. They have some depth along the defensive line which allows them to generate pressure, but they struggle immensely in all other areas.
Washington @ Dallas
Recommended Wager: WAS +3.0
Sizing: 1 unit
Spread watching: See above. The line is sticking at 3.
Matchup breakdown: This is a matchup between two teams that have had to make significant shifts at QB, which makes judging them tough for the entire season. The Football Teams offense is 28th in DVOA and 25th in EPA/play, but Alex Smith probably gives them the best chance to win. His PFF passing grade of 66.7 equals Kyle Allens and dwarfs Dwayne Haskins’s 48.0. With the veteran presents and the fact that his leg seems somehow healthy, I’d take Smith. The key to stopping the Football Team’s offense is containing Terry McLaurin, but rest assured, the Cowboys aren’t the team to do that. The offensive line and rookie RB Antonio Gibson have all played well (Washington is 13th in rush DVOA), so I like the advantage there as well. The defense is 6th in DVOA and 9th in EPA/play. The strength is certainly their defensive line, their pass rush is ranked 7th in PFF pass rushing grades. The Cowboys typically have a strong offensive line, but a slew of injuries have made this a weakness. In the secondary, both Kendall Fuller and Ronald Darby have played well, but they’ll have their work cut out for them.
For the Cowboys, we can basically throw out any game not started by Andy Dalton or Dak Prescott. Still, Dalton is a step down from Prescott, and as mentioned, their offensive line blows. Dalton has just a 59.5 PFF grade on the year. As usual, he needs to rely on his play makers – Amari Cooper, Ceedee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Zeke Elliot. For what it’s worth, their offense is 26th in DVOA and 27th in EPA/play. The defense isn’t much better – they’re 22nd in both DVOA and EPA/play. They have a decent enough pass rush (because Demarcus Lawrence), but they struggle everywhere else. I alluded to their secondary earlier — both starting corners have a PFF grade below 60, with Anthony Brown rocking a 45.5 grade.