News & Analysis

NFL Week 13 Thanksgiving spread picks

Week 12 is one we’d like to forget, as our picks went 0-3, and at least one of us is now relegated to the kid's table for Thanksgiving dinner. That brings us to 19-14 on the season and 112-95-10 (54.1%) overall.

This week we’re going to write two articles – one specifically for Thursday’s games and another for Sunday and Monday’s games. While there are three games on Thursday, only one really shows any value. Come back for more tomorrow on the PFF Forecast, which will be live Wednesday at 10am ET and keep an eye out for our Sunday game article that will be out on Thursday to take your mind off how bad the Falcons are and how much you hate your family (KIDDING).

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Chicago Bears (-3.5) at Detroit Lions

Point (Eric Eager)

This number has moved substantially since it opened, from -1 to -2.5 in our initial file of this article out to -3.5, which at -105 is roughly break-even, especially given the lack of health at the quarterback position for Detroit, along with the inability for the Detroit Lions' defense to give their counterparts on the other side of the ball for the Bears fits, the road team is the side here.

The “defensive regression” that has hit the Bears this season is a statistical one, not a fundamental one. A year after giving up just 4.8 yards per play (second in the NFL) and forcing a turnover on 19.5% of opponents’ drives (first), Chicago has allowed 4.9 yards per play (sixth) but have forced a turnover on only 11.7% of opponents’ drives (14th). The former statistic is the far more stable of the two, and any positive variance in the latter should lead to what ended up covering last year’s Thanksgiving game for the Bears – a defensive touchdown.

Even without the aid of a defensive score, the Bears' offense should be able to do enough to score the points necessary to cover this number against a Detroit team that has stumbled defensively (28th in our overall grading, 24th in our defensive Massey ranking) despite the solid play of free-agent acquisition Trey Flowers (77.0 overall grade). Against the Lions in Week 11, Mitchell Trubisky earned a season-high 78.6 overall grade and should be able to keep it together enough this week for the Bears to avoid going UNDER 9.5 Wins with four to play.

Counterpoint (George Chahrouri):

The Chicago Bears won a game last week, which means we have mercifully avoided talking about who will replace Mitch at quarterback next season in Chicago. The Lions quarterback situation is in peril, but Mazda Mitch has a raw PFF grade per dropback over the last two seasons that eclipses only Josh Rosen and Eli Manning, both of whom are currently riding the bench. So ask yourself: Does the worst starting quarterback in the NFL deserve to be a favorite on the road on Thanksgiving morning?

The Lions don’t have many competitive advantages at this point, but resting their only quarterback and perhaps making the Bears feel a little better about their chances is one of them. Jeff Driskel’s best attribute has been his ability to pick up yards on the ground, and while the worry is that he won’t be able to do that with a hurt hammy, the alternative options aren’t all that terrible, namely throwing up prayers to Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay. Golladay has 10 receptions on targets 20 or more yards downfield this season (tied-sixth), while Jones has eight (tied-11th); their 18 combined leads all teammates. Those two are also leading the NFL in contested catches with 36 combined. Giving them a few more opportunities to go up and make plays might actually help the Lions.

Trubsiky and Turkey have one thing in common, they are vastly overrated so you’re best up going for all the other options.

Playful parlay (unofficial) – Loser has to come into the office at PFF HQ on Friday.

GC: Chicago -3.5 | Dallas -6.5 | Falcons +7

I got the short end of the stick here because Eric picked his parlay first, but he took Josh Allen on the road like a guy who wants to spend his Friday after Thanksgiving cleaning the office. Dak Prescott had a rough game in New England thanks to his entire team looking like they had never seen rain before. Dak averaged just 4.2 yards per pass from a clean pocket (NFL average is 7.8), and Amari Cooper spent a weekend getting abused on Gilmore Island. Dak has earned a top-five raw PFF grade per snap from a clean pocket and overall this season. Josh Allen ranks 25th from a clean pocket which, unlike Josh Allen, is a very consistent facet of quarterback performance. Jerry lit a fire and Dak won’t let him down in his own house.

The Saints are banged up with left tackle Terron Armstead already ruled out after suffering an ankle injury in a very hard-fought win at home against Carolina. The Saints need to win this game but also need to get out of it healthy before hosting the 49ers in the NFC matchup of the season. Meanwhile, the Falcons have only one thing to play for, ruining the Saints' chances at homefield before they even face the Niners. I have absolutely no idea why I want to torture myself by rooting for the Falcons on a lovely holiday evening but here I am– please send your prayers.

EE: Chicago -3.5 | Buffalo +6.5 | New Orleans -7

George is right. I picked this set of games first due to my love for Josh Allen, defense and the league’s third-all-time-leading rusher, Francis Gore. In reality, it’s really hard for me to see the Cowboys extend a lead over a team not only with a winning record (against which they are winless this year), but a team that is thoroughly well put together and coached. Sean McDermott should be a second-tier candidate for coach of the year the way he’s rebounded from a failed tank in 2017, to the drafting of Allen using multiple picks in 2018, to the 8-3 start they’ve earned in what is, granted, a weak AFC. They are built very well defensively from the back to the front, with second-year linebacker Tremaine Edmunds contributing six pressures, three pass breakups and 36 total stops, bested in impressiveness only by third-year corner Tre’Davious White, who has a combined 10 interceptions and passes broken up. Dak has been one of the league’s best quarterbacks this year but should be sufficiently humbled in this one.

As for the other two, you know how we feel about CHI (-2.5) in Detroit, and for the love of God just fade the Falcons as you fade into bed during the late game.

Turkey is awful (-100) vs. Turkey is not awful (-100)

Point (GC):

Turkey is terrible. Turkey is a below replacement level component of the Thanksgiving meal; it is merely a vessel on which to escort all the good side dishes into your mouth and serves the same purpose as bread would, yet a nice fresh roll would taste far better. If you want to eat meat on a holiday, why on earth would you choose to eat the worst one? You don’t pick your least favorite location to go on vacation, do you? “Hey Honey what do you say we go spend a week in Antarctica this summer?”

The options are endless. I will be enjoying some slow-cooked baby back ribs, slathered with a perfectly spicy sauce and accompanied by all the side dishes that my heart desires. And, to be fair, the only reason I am skipping a ribeye steak is that’s on the menu for Wednesday night. Don’t be a peasant who slaves over some monstrosity of a carcass for hours and hours only to wish you were eating anything else. Instead, eat something you’re actually thankful for.

Counterpoint (EE):

Turkey is not terrible. A thinly-sliced piece of turkey is unrivaled in terms of sandwich meat. Like anything, it needs complementary pieces, but as we’ve found out this season, many things that were thought of as “garbage” just needed some help to achieve their full potential (e.g. Dak).

Oh, we’re talking about turkey as a cornerstone of Thanksgiving? Yeah, you’re not going to get much argument from me because Thanksgiving dinner, in general, is overrated. Recover from a hangover on Thanksgiving day. Play football outside during Thanksgiving day. Try to steal at least one of three games of one-on-one basketball against PFF_George on Thanksgiving day. Obviously, watch football games during Thanksgiving day. If you can find an excuse to skip what is, for 90% of American families out there, a glut of average food coupled with talk about lazy millennials are, you should do it.

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