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Ah, Thanksgiving football. So many unforgettable moments, so many thrilling finishes.
The NFL, on the other hand, gives us games as competitive as the slaughterhouse vs. the turkey.
Remember those classics in 2008? We got 10-1 Tennessee whacking winless Detroit 47-10, Dallas pounding Seattle 34-9, and Philly blasting Arizona 48-20.
Three games decided by an average of 30 points.
Perhaps that’s why Thursday’s lineup is so refreshing:
Green Bay at Detroit (6, 55), Miami at Dallas (-7, 44.5), San Francisco at Baltimore (-3.5, 38.5)
Of course, the problem with previous Thanksgivings started with the Lions, who haven’t had a winning record since 2000. Between that “celebrated” 9-7 season and this year, they went 39-121 (.244 winning percentage). Think about that the next time you hear Matt Millen bloviate.
The Lions have played on the holiday every year since 1934. Why is a long story that will only frustrate NFL fans sentenced to watch them.
With two exceptions, the Cowboys have played on Thanksgiving every year since 1966.
In 2006, the league added a night game for NFL Network.
We were due for a blockbuster slate of games like this.
“This is the best trio of games on Thanksgiving that I can remember,” said Todd Fuhrman, senior race and sports analyst at Caesars Palace. “We’ve got an undefeated team to start the day, an intriguing game between suddenly resurgent Miami and Dallas, and the best game of the day, an intersectional showdown between brothers coaching teams who could be the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in their respective conferences.”
Jimmy Vaccaro, oddsmaker for Lucky’s sportsbook, said the 7-3 Lions are the biggest factor in reviving the Thanksgiving schedule.
“There was a very long stretch where they were non-existent,” he said. “Now they’re only a 6-point dog to the Packers, and the unbeaten season is on the line."
Green Bay failed to cover as a 14-point home favorite on Sunday, beating Tampa Bay 35-26. The Lions exploded for 49 points to cover against the Panthers.
“I anticipated this line being a little higher but the public saw the Packers struggle Sunday,” Fuhrman said. “We’re still going to need Detroit in that game, just like last year when they ran out of gas against the Patriots.”
The Lions also went off as 6-point dogs in that game, losing 45-24 after leading 17-10 at halftime.
Miami goes to Dallas on an ATS tear. The Dolphins have covered four straight by an average of 15-plus points.
The Cowboys, who survived in overtime at Washington on Sunday, are just 3-8 ATS as home favorites since last year.
Not surprisingly, some offshores are listing Dallas at -6.5.
The 49ers keep making betting history. They’re 9-0-1 ATS, the longest unbeaten ATS streak to start a season, after handling Arizona 23-7 as 10-point favorites.
“The 49ers haven’t been slowed down by cross-country travel and their defense keeps them in every game,” Fuhrman said, adding that he expects this game to close at -3.
BIGGEST SPREADS OF THE WEEK
Pittsburgh at Kansas City (10, 40), Minnesota at Atlanta (-9, 44), Cleveland at Cincinnati (-9, 37.5), Buffalo at N.Y. Jets (-9, 43)
Adrian Peterson’s high left ankle sprain likely will keep him out Sunday. Many books have taken Vikes-Falcons down until his status is clarified.
Bills running back Fred Jackson has a very sore calf, but expects to play at the Jets. Regardless, New York has won and covered four straight against Buffalo, outscoring the Bills 122-45.
SMALLEST SPREADS OF THE WEEK
Chicago at Oakland (1, 45.5), Arizona at St. Louis (-3, 40)
The Bears opened as 1-point faves but the lined quickly moved (Oakland -3.5) once word broke about Jay Cutler’s injury. Chicago’s Caleb Hanie has thrown only 14 regular-season passes. But he has a big arm, and he moved the team in the NFC Championship Game loss to Green Bay.
The Cardinals figure to start scattershot John Skelton again with Kevin Kolb (toe, foot) still hurting.
BIGGEST TOTAL OF THE WEEK
Green Bay at Detroit (6, 55.5)
The teams combined for 84 points on Sunday. Both have posted 7-3 O/U marks this season.
SMALLEST TOTALS OF THE WEEK
Washington at Seattle (-4, 36.5), Cleveland at Cincinnati (-9, 37.5), Houston at Jacksonville (3.5, 37.5)
Under coach Pete Carroll, the over is 9-3-1 in Seattle’s home games and 13-6-1 in NFC games.
The Bengals are better offensively than many think. They average 23.6 points, tied for 12th with the Chargers, and have posted an 8-2 O/U mark. Despite the Browns’ impotence, they’ve managed a 4-6 O/U mark.
The Texans-Jaguars total would be higher if Matt Schaub were playing. Houston will go even more run-heavier than normal so as not to expose Matt Leinart in his first start since 2009.