For decades, two teams have held a spot as traditional hosts of a Thanksgiving afternoon football game. The franchises with the responsibility of entertaining football fans as they tuck into their turkey dinners are the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys. If you are wondering why, you can read about the history of Thanksgiving Day football here.

More recently, the NFL added a third game in the evening. It’s a perfect time for fans and bettors to relax while they digest all that wonderful Thanksgiving Day food. No doubt families across America will be hoping 2021 will be more of a traditional celebration after the pandemic ruined many people’s plans in 2020.

So let’s take a look at what the NFL are serving up this Thanksgiving.


Chicago Bears (3-7) vs Detroit Lions (0-9-1)

With both of these teams basically out of the playoff picture, they will be playing more for a top draft choice as opposed to a place in the NFC standings. So while there isn’t much on the line, these are still two proud football franchises. The last thing they want is to be embarrassed on Thanksgiving Day on national television. That’s not to mention the Bears and Lions have a fierce rivalry dating back to the glory days of the NFL’s “black and blue” division.

This may be the Lion’s best chance of a victory between now and the end of the season.

Betting line: Chicago Bears favored at -3 with an over/under 41.5

Relevance for local betting: Both Illinois and Michigan are live with legal online sports betting although Illinois is once again restricted to in-person registration until March 2022.


Las Vegas Raiders (5-5) vs Dallas Cowboys (7-3)

Unlike the first game on the schedule, this game does have playoff ramifications. Starting with the Raiders, they are fighting for their playoff lives. Moving forward, every win/loss will be vital if they plan to extend their campaign beyond the regular season. After losing three games in a row, now is the time for them to turn things around. On the other sideline will be the Cowboys, who have a nice lead in the NFC East Division. In fact, the only real threat remaining in the division are the Philadelphia Eagles at 5-6.
The Cowboys surprisingly enter the game with the best offense in the NFL with an average of 429 yards per game. The Raiders will try to counter with the league’s second-best passing threat at 304 yards per game. That sets up the potential for this to be an old-fashioned Thanksgiving Day offensive shootout.
Betting line: Dallas Cowboys favored at -8 with an over/under 50.5
Relevance for local betting: You can bet in designated sportsbooks in Nevada but despite movement in the right direction Texas has not yet enacted legislation to legalize sports betting. Will be a huge addition to the US market when they get it done.

Buffalo Bills (6-4) vs New Orleans Saints (5-5)

The Thanksgiving Day football festivities will close out with another game that features two teams fighting for their playoff lives. After blowing out the Kansas City Chiefs in K.C. during Week 5, the Bills looked like a team of substance. However, they have struggled a bit since then, going 3-3 over their last six games. They really need a good performance here if they want to keep pace with the New England Patriots (7-4) in the AFC East Division.
The Bills feature one of the league’s best defenses, having given up 17 or fewer points on 7 occasions. After the retirement of future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees, it would be hard to blame the Saints if they had fallen on hard times. While the passing attack ranks 29th in the league at a meager 214 yards per game, they have managed to remain competitive. Looking ahead, this is a must-win game for them. Two of the next three games are against top competition Dallas Cowboys (7-3) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3).
Betting line: Buffalo Bills favored at -5.5 with an over/under 45.5
Relevance for local betting: A tantalizing one for locals. Both New York and Louisiana are on the cusp of legal online betting. In fact Louisiana have already kicked off with retail operators. Louisiana should be live in January while New York hopes to be in action by the Super Bowl.