Thanksgiving Day football often brings a unique slate of games. With the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys perennially hosting matchups, it largely depends on their skill level if we will be treated to a Thanksgiving feast or famine.
Our nightcap for this season's Thanksgiving slate features the 8-2 Minnesota Vikings hosting the 6-4 New England Patriots. Per our power rankings, we should be watching some good football. The Patriots (11th) and the Vikings (13th) are among the top half of the league.
Let's put our stretchy pants on and see what betting angles jump out, according to our model.
Breaking It Down
It's obvious that the Vikings would like to forget last week's game. Coming in with an 8-1 record and winners of their last seven, including a scintillating overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills, the Vikes were pummeled 40-3 at home by the Dallas Cowboys.
Thankfully for the Vikings, the NFC North is absolutely abominable. The second-place Lions sit four games back, so a division crown seems pretty likely for Minnesota.
Minnesota, despite weapons such as Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, T.J. Hockenson and Kirk Cousins, ranks only 18th in offense, per our per-play metrics. Cousins has performed well below the league average in terms of Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back clocking in with a mark of only 0.03, which ranks 20th among high-volume quarterbacks.
The Vikings have been carried by the league's second-best run defense, and their 18 takeaways is tied for the third-most in the league. The offensive line will need to be far improved this week, as Cousins was sacked seven times in last week's loss.
While it may seem like we are picking on the poor Minnesota offense, the Patriots' O isn't much better. They rank fifth-worst by our numbers. New England has scored only two offensive touchdowns across their last three games, and their lone touchdown last week was a punt return for a score in the final minute of the game.
Mac Jones ranks 32nd among high-volume signal-callers with a clip of -0.07 Passing NEP per drop back. Jones was highly accurate last week, going 23 for 27, but his 4.2 air yards per attempt isn't exactly taking striking fear in a lot of defensive units.
It is obvious that the league's best defense has been New England's calling card. Our schedule-adjusted metrics rank the Pats as the league's best overall D.
The Betting Numbers
The Vikings are 2.5-point home favorites, and the total is 42.5 points.
Our projections see this as a pretty tight contest -- forecasting it to be a 22.0-21.8 win for the home Vikings. We give New England a 49.1% chance to win and rate taking the Pats to win outright as a one-star play (one-unit recommendation). We think the Patriots cover 53.7% of the time.
We also have a lean on the total, giving the over a 54.6% chance to win out.
In the prop market, I like the under on Kirk Cousins passing yards, with the line set at 255.5 yards (-110). Our model likes it, too, as we project Cousins to throw for just 241.8 yards. The Patriots' pass defense has been excellent all year and should make things tough on Cousins.
In terms of betting trends with these two teams, New England has been marginally better against the spread (ATS) with a 6-3-1 ATS mark. The Vikings are only 4-5-1 ATS. New England has won five straight matchups against the Vikes.