2017 Turkey Day Touts!
Last year, we had three suggested plays and hit the widely coveted Turkey Day Triple! So far this season, Thursday has treated us ridiculously well. We are hoping both of those trends continue tomorrow as we have not one, but two, count 'em...two GreenZonegames. Before we get to the picks, quick recap of year-to-date performance... after last week's +14.3 Units on a 5-2 record, we now stand at 62.8% win rate in the GreenZone and have accumulated 94.45 Units!
[5.9 Units] Detroit Lions (+3) at home with Vikings
We said it last week and we will say it again, this is the most healthy this Lions team has been the entire season. There are a couple things we don't discount with any team and those are: 1. Health 2. You don't come into Detroit on Thanksgiving and come out unscathed. This is a divisional match up with a great level of familiarity and may decide the NFC North winner. The Vikings (8-4) are up a couple of games, but have the harder part of their schedule remaining. The Lions (6-2) have one of the easier remaining schedules in football and have already beat the Vikings once this year. Both teams know that whoever wins this one will be in the driver's seat for the division moving forward. Joe Public is bound to be all over the Vikings tomorrow after they took it to the Rams in what was one of the most highly watched games of the week. We have appreciated their defensive prowess for quite some time and they often had a lot of value because of the relative weakness of their offense. Well, that offense is now a top-10 unit to match the consistent defense. We aren't saying the Minnesota isn't a quality team...we are just saying the public is overreacting to last week's convincing win. We have this game as anywhere from a 0.5 to 1.5 point spread in favor of the Lions. As mentioned in the opening, the Lions are healthy and there aren't any caveats to ignore the data for what should be an offensive line that continues to improve with all their starters out there. When we get three free points for a home team our models have winning the game, we do very well. Also, let's not forget this is still Case Keenum...Case Keenum and Kai Forbath in a close game in the 4th quarter at a rockin' Ford Field...or Matt Stafford and Matt Prater? We'll take the system value, the home team on a short week, and potentially the most deadly 4th quarter QB/kicker combo in the league.
[5.5 Units] Dallas Cowboys (+2) at home with Chargers
Wow, has the public turned on the Cowboys... This line was Dallas (-4) two weeks ago and it is now +2.5! No Zeke, no Sean Lee, Dallas used to be a top-5 O-line now can't protect at all, Chargers have two top edge rushers, and the Chargers just put up 50+ points last week. To that we say, RELAX. Missing Tyron Smith the last two games has been a very big loss, but he is back and will be dominating that blindside once again. The Chargers do have two dominating rushers in Bosa and Engram but unfortunately they can't seem to stop the run. The Chargers are a top-10 team against the pass (aided by 5 INTs last week against PETERman) but are towards the bottom of the league against the run. The Cowboys will be back to that top-5 pedigree O-line and will be opening up holes big enough for anyone to run through. They gave up 12 sacks the last two games without Ty Smith, but have given up 10 sacks total in their 8 games with him at LT...you do the math on that one. The run game will also open up more play action offense which allows Dak to be Dak. Zeke's absence does hurt, but it is nothing compared to how much Tyron Smith erasing the entire left side of the line means to this offense. On the other side of the ball, let's not kid ourselves and say Dallas has a premier defense, but it is a good match up for them. All year, the Chargers have tried to achieve offensive balance and establish a run game. We expect them to continue to try to run this week against a less than average Cowboys front-7. It sounds like a good idea... the problem is it never seems to work out for them. They rank towards the bottom of the league running the ball. So this poor Dallas run D gets to face a poor Chargers Run O. This is a perfect match up for the Cowboys at home to get some MO back on their side. The offensive and defensive match ups are without a doubt the key, but in what should be a tight game, we love having a special teams edge. Chargers, per DVOA, rank 32nd and Dallas 6th. The points, on Turkey day, at home, have to trust our stuff(ing).
[1 Turkey Leg] New York Football Giants (+7.5) at Landover, MD
As bad as we want to bet this one and go for a second consecutive Turkey Day Triple, we can't in good conscience advise you laying any of those hard earned #Units on the line. If your family is driving you nuts or you've had one too many Christmas Ales and NEED to take some action, we lean towards the G-Men with the points. This one is planted firmly in the RedZone with our models seeing it finishing anywhere from a 5 to 9-point game. That means our median expectation is 7-points which is basically right on the number. Taking this one is gambling just to gamble from our eyes...not that there's anything wrong with that. Our suggested play is to smash turkey, fixin's, and plenty of cold ones during our 2-0 Turkey Day Double and pass out on the couch while these two bring it home.