Thanksgiving Day NFL Matchups & Mismatches, 11-24-2016
Thanksgiving Day NFL Matchups & Mismatches
-How Sports Investor Central Handicappers view these three NFL games-
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (-2.5, 42.5) 12:30pm EST
The Vikings head into Thanksgiving fresh off a pivotal 30-24 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. The Vikings snapped a four-game losing streak with their win over Arizona this past Sunday and now they head to Detroit to take on the Lions. Detroit has won 5 of 6 after beating Jacksonville this past Sunday. Both teams will be working on short rest in this key NFC North Division game.
The Vikings have limited opponents to just five rushing touchdowns through their first 10 games of the season. The Vikings have the #3 ranked overall defense but they have shown some kinks in their armour during their 4 game losing streak. Detroit was one of the teams to beat Minnesota on November 6th by a score of 22-16 and the Lions covered the +4.5 point spread on the road.
Detroit isn’t much of a running team with Matt Stafford under center. Detroit enters its Week 12 encounter with just four rushing touchdowns on the year. The Lions use a pass-heavy red-zone strategy this season. The Lions inability to run the ball in the red zone, combined with the Vikings’ aptitude at preventing rushing scores, could mean bad news for the Detroit offense in a challenging divisional tilt.
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-6.5, 50) 4:30pm EST
The latest edition of the Thanksgiving showdown between the Redskins and Cowboys takes on added significance this year, with the Cowboys riding an incredible nine-game winning streak and the Redskins battling with the New York Giants for second place in the NFC East.
The Redskins rank 22nd in the league in rush defense, allowing just over 112 yards per game on the ground. That number climbs to 121 yards away from Washington, the eighth-worst road mark in football. They will need to significantly improve upon these stats when they face rookie RB Ezekiel Elliot.
The Redskins were able to hold Elliott to 83 yards in a Week 2 defeat but the Redskins have allowed six rushing touchdowns in four road games. The Redskins benefited from some home cooking in the early weeks but they will play 4 of their final 6 games on the road.
That difficult stretch starts with what will easily be their toughest remaining test. Dallas has been an absolute force in the ground game this season, ranking second in both overall rushing yards per game (156.7) and home rushing yards per contest (157.0). Look for Elliott to exploit Washington’s weaknesses on the defensive line and expect the best offensive line in football to open up holes for their star rookie running back. Washington lost to Dallas in Week 2 by 4 points and failed to cover the -3.5 point spread. Now they are getting +7 points on the road but is this enough to back a team facing the red hot Dallas Cowboys?
Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts ( Colts +9, 47.5) 8:30pm EST
The storyline has been the same all season, the Pittsburgh Steelers are a far worse offensive team on the road than they are at home. It’s hard to argue that point when you consider, over his last 19 road games, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has thrown just 19 TD passes compared to 55 over his previous 19 home games. However, the Colts are dealing with more of a handicap as QB Andrew Luck is going through the league mandated concussion protocol and may not be cleared by Thursday’s game.
Pittsburgh went on the road last Sunday to beat Cleveland, 24-9 and snap a 4 game losing streak. Pittsburgh also covered the -8 point spread with ease. RB Le’Veon Bell had a monster game, rushing for a season-high 146 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. When the running game is going it makes life easier for Antonio Brown. On the season, Brown has 907 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. Expect for Brown to have a big game vs the Colts weak secondary.
Indianapolis has won two straight games to get to .500 on the season. Their Thanksgiving matchup vs the Steelers is an important game but without Andrew Luck the pressure falls on Scott Tolzien to manage the game. The Colts typically are more pass heavy but Frank Gore may get the rock more than previous games. The Steelers have had success stopping the run which could make this interesting to see how the Colts use Tolzien and Gore.
Will the Steelers be able to score enough points on the road to cover the -9 point spread?