NFL Week 12: Thursday Night Football – Thanksgiving Day Games


Minnesota 41.5 @ Detroit -2.5

Friday November 25, 4:30am AEDT 



Minnesota (6-4)

When it was all said and done Minnesota had won 30-24 but in many ways the Vikings were lucky to win the game. They returned an interception over 100 yards for a touchdown as Arizona was going in for a score down by three points. They then led off the third quarter with a kickoff return of over 100 yards for a touchdown widening their lead from three points to 10 points. Arizona ran for 4.8ypr and 135 yards while limiting the Vikings to just 72 yards at 3.0ypr.

The Vikings did out pass Arizona 4.8yps to 3.7yps and sacked the Cardinals four times. Overall, Arizona gained 4.1yppl and Minnesota 4.0yppl. Arizona did throw the ball 12 more times but they actually gained less throwing the ball than running the ball. Minnesota only gained 217 yards in the game.

Detroit (6-4)

Detroit played a somewhat similar story in their 26-19 victory over Jacksonville. Trailing 3-0 and going nowhere in the second quarter they returned a punt for a touchdown. Later in the game they picked off a Blake Bortles pass and returned it for a touchdown.

Jacksonville ran for 83 yards at 3.1ypr while allowing just 14 yards at 0.7ypr. Detroit did out pass Jacksonville 7.3yps to 5.8yps and overall, the Lions out gained Jacksonville 4.9yppl to 4.6yppl.

Key Stats

  • Minnesota averages just 2.7ypr against teams allowing 4.0ypr, 6.0yps against 6.4yps and 4.7yppl against 5.5yppl.
  • On defence, they allow 4.2ypr against teams averaging 4.2ypr, just 5.3yps against 6.4yps and 4.8yppl against 5.5yppl.
  • Detroit averages just 3.6ypr against 4.1ypr, 6.7yps against 6.3yps and 5.6yppl against 5.4yppl.
  • On defence, however, they allow 4.2ypr against 4.1ypr, 6.9yps against 6.2yps and 5.8yppl against 5.4yppl.


  • For Minnesota CB/PR Marcus Sherels is out as well as DT Sharrif Floyd. CB Terrance Newman is doubtful and three key players are questionable. WR Stefon Diggs, LB Eric Kendricks and S Harrison Smith are all questionable in this game.
  • For Detroit LB DeAndre Levy is not expected to play again. Detroit has other players listed as questionable but are likely to play.

The Verdict

I don’t have any situations on the side in this game. This game is very close to qualifying in a solid under situation, which is 146-70-3 if the total is 42 or higher. My numbers favour Detroit by one point and projects about 39 points. Detroit is 12-3 SU since 2014 when installed as a favourite at home and with this short line, if they win the game SU, they are likely to cover the spread as well.

Minnesota failed to cover as a dog at Washington in their last road game but they are now 11-2 ats as a road underdog, going back to 2014. This game figures to set up very much like the Jacksonville and Detroit game last week. The Vikings come in with a very good defence, much like Jacksonville, who controlled the game to a degree for a large part of the game last week. Minnesota’s offence is well below average, much like Jacksonville’s offence is. The biggest difference between Minnesota and Jacksonville is turnovers and special teams.

The Vikings special teams have performed well this year, while Jacksonville is giving up huge returns in their special teams. Jacksonville has turned it over 22 times versus taking it away only 7 times, while Minnesota has taken it away 20 times while giving it up only 7 times. Vikings are getting points, with the better defence and a team that doesn’t turn it over. Detroit has held on to the ball as well, turning it over only eight times but they’ve also only forced 10 turnovers. This game figures to be close seeing Detroit hasn’t defeated anyone by more than seven points.

In their three games against teams above .500, they have won by three over Washington, lost by seven at Houston and won by six against these Vikings in OT in Mpls. Detroit has gone four straight games of allowing 20 or less points and they don’t figure to give up a bunch of points at home against a below average Minnesota offence. Minnesota has allowed 20 or more points in five straight games after getting off to a great start on defence.

The side here is tough to call with a short number but this game figures to be a low scoring game as Minnesota’s defence should hold their own but they will also likely struggle on offence. If the Vikings are missing the majority of the players I listed above, they are likely in trouble in this game. I will call for a three point Detroit win and I’d up that to six points if they are missing at least two of these players – WR Diggs, S Smith or LB Kendricks.


Detroit 20 Minnesota 17 (Detroit 23 Minnesota 17 with Viking injuries)



Washington 51.5 @ Dallas -7

Friday November 25, 8:30am AEDT 



Washington (6-3-1)

The Redskins rolled over Green Bay on Sunday night 42-24 and it was an impressive performance but don’t get carried away with their performance. They beat a Packer defense that eventually had to field players on defense that resembled you and I playing out there. They came in short and got further decimated with injuries throughout the game. Washington rushed for 151 yards at 5.0ypr while allowing GB to rush for 84 yards at 4.4ypr.

Washington averaged 11.4yps but allowed GB to throw for 7.4yps. Overall, Washington gained 8.3yppl and allowed 6.5yppl. GB threw for 14 more passes while Washington ran the ball 11 more times. Washington was also plus two in turnover margin.

Dallas (9-1)

Dallas had their hands full against a solid Ravens defense but ultimately broke through to grab the lead and hold on for a 27-17 victory. Dallas was out rushed 6.3ypr to 3.9ypr but out passed the Ravens 8.1yps to 7.4yps.

Overall, Dallas was out gained 7.1yppl to 6.2yppl. Dallas controlled the clock for about an extra 11 minutes and ran the ball 14 more times than Baltimore.

Key Stats

  • Washington averages 4.6ypr against teams allowing 4.1ypr, 7.6yps against 6.5yps and 6.4yppl against 5.6yppl.
  • They allow, however, 4.6ypr against 4.0ypr, 6.5yps against 6.3yps and 5.8yppl against 5.4yppl.
  • Dallas averages 4.7ypr against 4.3ypr, 7.7yps against 6.6yps and 6.2yppl against 5.6yppl.
  • They allow 4.2ypr against 4.2ypr, 6.6yps against 6.2yps and 5.8yppl against 5.5yppl.


  • For Washington DT Chris Baker is questionable as is WR DeSean Jackson and T Tyler Nsekhe.
  • For Dallas S Barry Church is out and CB Morris Claiborne is out again.

The Verdict

Washington qualifies in a negative situation that plays against teams coming off high offensive performances in their last game, which is 54-24-4 and plays against the Redskins in this game. Dallas qualifies in a fundamental rushing situation, which is 201-114-14, and plays on Dallas. This game also qualifies in a couple of strong under situations, which are 146-70-3 and 287-199-2. My numbers favor Dallas by only three points and project about 53 points.

The Redskins have covered five straight games as road underdogs, winning all five of those games SU as well. But, the Cowboys have covered their last three as home favourites, although their last two games they seem to have gotten a little lucky. Prior to that they had covered just seven of their past twenty-seven games as home favourites. Since week two when they scored 27 points at Washington, Dallas has scored at least 24 points in every game.

During that same time span they have scored at least 27 points in every home game. They also haven’t faced a team above .500 since week two against these Redskins. This means they’ve played two games against teams above .500 and lost by one and won by four. Washington’s defence doesn’t figure to hold them below that threshold this week either.

Other than the Pittsburgh game the Cowboys haven’t allowed more than 23 points in a game. They allowed Pittsburgh 30 points on the road and Washington has a similar offensive style with multiple weapons they can go to. Other than their 22 point loss to open the season against Pittsburgh the Redskins haven’t lost by more than four points this year. That four point loss was to these Cowboys in Washington.

We had Dallas in that game but they were down 23-20 in the fourth quarter and Washington about to score and put the game away when Kirk Cousins threw an interception in the end zone. The situations say Dallas and under and I respect the under in this game but the value says Washington and the over. I will respect the under situations in this game but I must lean slightly to Washington. If this total goes to 54 I’d consider betting the under. 


Dallas 27 Washington 23 



Pittsburgh -9 @ Indianapolis 48

Friday November 25, 12:30pm AEDT 



Pittsburgh (5-5)

Tough to read too much into Pittsburgh’s 24-9 sleep walk through their victory over Cleveland last week. They knew they had the game won and did what they had to do to secure the victory. Pittsburgh out rushed Cleveland 5.2ypr to 2.5ypr, out passed them 4.6yps to 3.6yps (it was extremely windy during the game as well) and out gained the Browns 4.9yppl to 3.4yppl.

Cleveland threw the ball 13 more times while the Steelers ran the ball 15 more times. They sacked the Browns eight times and forced two turnovers, including one sack and fumble recovered for a touchdown in the game.

Indianapolis (5-5)

Indianapolis jumped out to a 21-0 lead over Tennessee and then held on for a 24-17 victory. Indy was out rushed 3.6ypr to 2.7ypr but out passed Tennessee 8.4yps to 5.9yps. Overall, Indy out gained the Titans 5.6yppl to 5.0yppl. Tennessee threw the ball 13 more times.

Key Stats

  • Pittsburgh averages 4.2ypr against 4.2ypr, 6.5yps against 6.5yps and 5.7yyppl against 5.6yppl.
  • They allow 4.2ypr against 4.3ypr, 6.7yps against 6.5yps and 5.8yppl against 5.6yppl.
  • Indianapolis averages 3.9ypr against 4.1ypr, 6.4yps against 6.4yps and 5.4yppl against 5.5yppl.
  • They allow 4.5ypr against 4.2ypr, 7.0yps against 6.3yps and 6.1yppl against 5.5yppl.


  • For Pittsburgh WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, RB DeAngelo Williams are out.
  • For Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck is out. S Clayton Geathers is also out and a big loss. CB Vontae Davis is questionable for this game. WR Donte Moncrief is questionable.

The Verdict

I don’t have any situations on the side in this game. This game does qualify in an under situation, which is 246-164-5. Andrew Luck has been ruled out of this game. That means Scott Tolzien will get the start for the Colts. The biggest differences between the two is Tolzien’s interception ratio is double that of Andrew Luck. He’s thrown an interception on 5.5% of his passes which is incredibly high although it’s based on a limited number of throws.

Luck also has a much better touchdown percentage to passes thrown. The number on this game has ballooned because of the Luck injury. I make the number Pittsburgh by seven, with the Luck injury, and project about 51 points but those points account for Luck so that number needs to be downgraded. This total has been adjusted by about six points after news of Luck broke.

If I adjust my total six points that would put the total at 45 points in this game. As much as Indianapolis has a perception to be a high scoring team, they haven’t totalled more than 52 points at home since their second home game this year. Last week, however, was the first week they had allowed less than 22 points in a game.

In addition Pittsburgh hasn’t totalled more than 54 points in any road game this year and since their first road game they haven’t totalled more than 45 points. It’s hard to pin point just what their offence will do on the road seeing one game Roethlisberger was hurt, one game was against a much better defence in Baltimore and was Big Ben’s first game back and last week it was extremely windy. What we do know is the last two years these two teams have played Pittsburgh has won 45-10 and 51-34. Do I want to lay the nine points? Not particularly. I’d be more interested in the under in this game if I made any play.


Pittsburgh 26 Indianapolis 20


YPR = Yards Per Rush

YPS = Yards Per Pass

YPPL = Yards Per Play

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