NFL Thanksgiving Day tripleheader: One big upset as we serve up our picks for all 3 games | Opinion

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NFL WEEK 12

GREG COTE’S THANKSGIVING DAY PICKS

Might not seem like it but this is the 16th year of Thanksgiving Day tripleheaders as Americans compete to see what they will be more full of come midnight: food, or football. The NFL has wrapped itself in the holiday since 1925, and the 1934 Bird Day game was the first to be broadcast nationally. Traditional host Detroit will play in its 82nd game on the holiday, and Dallas will host for the 44th straight year. Chicago will make its 37th Thanksgiving appearance, Buffalo its 10th, the Raiders their eighth and New Orleans its fourth. Got all that? Quiz in the morning. Let’s go!

BEARS (3-7) at LIONS (0-9-1)

Line: CHI by 3 1/2.

Cote’s pick: DET, 20-16.

TV: 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Fox.

A major upset kicks off our football feast — major if only because Detroit has yet to win, until now. (Sorry, no Upset Bird appearance. He doesn’t work holidays, especially this one, which brings traumatic flashbacks over the many turkey friends lost over the years). Starting QBs Justin Fields and Jared Goff both being iffy to play complicates this pick, but Goff appeared likelier when this pick was due on Tuesday. Beyond that, Lion D’Andre Swift is the NFL’s hottest RB in the Non-Jonathan Taylor Division with 266 yards in past two games, and Chicago’s defense is hobbled, notably by the absence of irreplaceable Khalil Mack. With Bears on a five-game skid, Motown actually enters this game in better recent form — and achingly overdue a win. As this game ends and you’re about to dig into your bird, you know what Dan Campbell’s going to be eatin’? That’s right. Somebody’s kneecaps is what!

RAIDERS (5-5) at COWBOYS (7-3)

Line: DAL by 7.

Cote’s pick: DAL, 31-17.

TV: 4:30 p.m. Thursday, CBS.

A glamour matchup, black hat division, between probably the NFL’s two most disliked franchises. Dallas has lost two of past three including that limp effort in Kansas City last week. But that can’t beat Vegas’ three-game skid in the swoon category. Injuries are the only real doubt about the Boys in the middle of our tripleheader, with Zeke Elliott playing (maybe) through a knee injury, Amari Cooper (COVID) out again and top receiver CeeDee Lamb (concussion) very questionable. That heaps a lot of onus on Dak Prescott, but I still like him outscoring a Raiders squad whose offense has fallen off sharply post-Henry Ruggs III. Jerry Jones’ guys take care of biz pretty good at home, where they’re 4-1 this year and on a 7-2-1 roll against the spread when home faves by seven or more points. Somebody’s offense is going to get back in gear, and I’m saddlin’ up the Cowboys.

BILLS (6-4) at SAINTS (5-5)

Line: BUF 4 1/2.

Cote’s pick: BUF, 27-24.

TV: 8:20 p.m. Thursday, NBC.

Billsville has dropped two of three and N’Awlins three straight, both stumbling to seventh-seed playoff pace at the moment. (Remember when Buffalo enjoyed a minute as the popular AFC Super Bowl pick? Seems funny now, huh?) Trends compete in our Bird Day nightcap, with Saints having won five straight in this occasional series but Buffs on a 5-1 run in prime time. Bills also have a stout track record of bouncing back from losses; then again, Saints are on an 8-1-1 roll against the spread as underdogs. A big part of my gut feeling (and it is a big gut) had a home ‘dog upset here. Still give it an XL chance of happening. But knee injuries that may shelve both Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are the reason I cannot pull the trigger. A healthy Kamara, especially, and I might. Still going to hedge and take Saints with the points, though.

[Note: Betting lines courtesy Caesars Sportsbook as of late afternoon Tuesday. Picks for remainder of Week 12 games will appear online Thursday and in print Friday].