Island games are the highlight of any NFL week for betting enthusiasts. And as the industry continues to grow, some of the most discussed moments belong to these single-game opportunities.
Last week's writeups went 6-10 for +1.21 units, thanks to a couple of plus-price bets and a winning same-game parlay. Our overall record moves to 85-91 for +15.9 units.
Thanksgiving day always provides the best island-game showcase of the year, so be sure to leverage PFF's predictive betting models and player props tool to identify the best betting opportunities this Thanksgiving.
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QB ANDY DALTON: OVER 205.5 PASSING YARDS (-115)
Dalton didn’t have a great game in relief of Justin Fields last week, but he did tally two big-time throws — one on a play-action deep ball to Darnell Mooney and one on a fourth-and-11 touchdown strike to Marquise Goodwin. And this bodes well for his potential to pile up yards on the odd explosive play in addition to the standard Dalton/Matt Nagy dink-and-dunk offense.
Facing a Lions defense that ranks last in team coverage grade and has allowed fewer than 240 passing yards just three times all season, Dalton and the Bears should easily cover this number as just three-point road favorites.
PFF’s player props tool gives Dalton a 58.1% chance to throw for at least 206 passing yards, which is a positive expected value bet at -115 odds.
RB DAVID MONTGOMERY: OVER 17.5 CARRIES (-110)
Montgomery recently returned from the knee sprain that sidelined him for four games and immediately took on a full workload. He handled 62% of the Bears’ rush attempts in Week 9, his first game back, and that share bumped up to 74% last week. The Bears running back handled 68% of the rush attempts at full health early in the season, so his current workload fits right into his baseline.
It is more than fair to expect a healthy helping of Montgomery on Thanksgiving. The Bears are mispriced as only three-point road favorites in this matchup, with PFF’s betting model seeing value on their side of the spread. Detroit is the worst defense in the NFL in terms of PFF’s opponent-adjusted grades and ranks as the second-worst unit against the run. If Chicago is salting away an easy covered victory, expect Montgomery to be the feature piece to their offensive success.
PFF Greenline gives the Bears a 51% chance to cover as road favorites, representing positive expected value and the best play available in this game, even if 79% of the public money is on the Lions +3.
Bettors should have full confidence in the Bears for two reasons: the play of Andy Dalton and the incompetence of the Detroit Lions defense.
Dalton didn’t have the most efficient game in relief of rookie Justin Fields last week, as he completed just 11-of-23 attempts en route to a 59.9 PFF grade. However, the longtime Cincinnati Bengals quarterback has enjoyed some promising moments in his first season in Chicago — he put up a 92.4 PFF grade against his former team in Week 2, and he's thrown just one turnover-worthy play and taken only five sacks on the season.
Bettors should not see much — if any — drop-off from Fields to Dalton.
The Red Rifle should be ecstatic to face a Lions defense that ranks 27th in run-defense grade, 26th in pass-rush grade, 32nd in coverage grade and 29th in expected points added (EPA) allowed per play. Putting it mildly, this is a unit that has been atrocious in every facet this season.
Even an average game from Dalton should be enough to comfortably put up at least 21-28 points for the Bears and cover against a Lions offense captained by either a banged-up Jared Goff, who ranks 29th among quarterbacks in PFF grade, or Tim Boyle.
The 41.5-point total is among the lowest for any game this season. PFF Greenline sees positive value on the over, which has a 53% chance to cover.
Picks: Bears -3 and over 41.5
If rumors are to be believed, then Thanksgiving will likely be Matt Nagy’s last stand as Chicago Bears head coach, which adds an extra layer of difficulty when it comes to picking this game. Unfortunately, it’s always tough to handicap this kind of situation.
If Nagy has lost the locker room and this is his final opportunity to salvage something, then it’s possible the Bears don’t show up at all. But if he is already out the door and the players are relieved, we could see a solid performance led by a veteran backup quarterback.
The latter seems like the more likely outcome right now, which is why buying into the Bears at -3 is the best proposition. PFF’s betting model finds value at that number, with the expectation that this should be closer to a four-point spread.
Both offenses sit in the bottom-fourth of the NFL in PFF’s opponent-adjusted offensive ranking. The defenses aren’t much better, though the 41.5-point total suggests that the betting market expects the defenses to win out. However, one or two big plays could easily see this game go over, and PFF’s betting model finds value on the over. Sometimes a bad defense is all that a poor offense needs to find the right path.
These two events are only going to happen if Andy Dalton has a productive passing game. He ranks 18th among quarterbacks in PFF grade this season and has fared much better from an EPA perspective than Justin Fields. All three of these legs point toward a solid performance from the Bears offense and offer a reasonable enough payout, given the correlation of all three events.
- Bears: -3
- Over: 41.5
- Andy Dalton: Over 215.5 passing yards