By Sean O'Neill
Cold, Hard Football Facts Vegas Insider (@sean_oneill)
Just as death and taxes are the only guarentees in life, turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and the Detroit Lions getting slaughtered like a poor gobbler are expected on Thanksgiving.
But you can also expect gamblers to ignore their families and head down to the book to place a few bucks on the games.
"It's the only thing going on and there's lots of people in town the day of the game," said Jeff Stoneback, sports book manager at The Mirage. "They're firing away on it.
"It's usually a pretty big week for us. It kind of tails of on Sunday after three days of football where the people are either broke or tired of it."
To prepare for the triple-header, we have a quick snapshot at each game -- Green Bay at Detroit, Oakland at Dallas, Pittsburgh at Baltimore -- on Turkey Day to prepare you for your betting needs. The records for each team are ATS.
We also include the current line and the line released by Cantor Gaming in May for comparison purposes.
Green Bay (4-7 ATS) at Detroit (5-6 ATS)
Current line: Lions -6
Cantor Gaming line in May: Lions +1.5
Detroit is 1-11 SU and 3-9 ATS since 2001 on Thanksgiving. So nobody has gotten rich betting on the Honolulu Blue on Thanksgiving. And even with the hobbled Packers coming to the Motor City, very little money has been laid on the Lions.
"There's very little action so far on all of these games so far," said Stoneback. "There's a little action on the Lions, but nothing significant."
After getting off the phone with Stoneback, Aaron Rodgers was officially declared out for the game, but "Matt Flynn is built for that team only. Everybody else cuts him and he does well for the Packers. Home field advantage is worth three, right there and the Lions are a few points better than the Packers with a backup quarterback."
But is the public aware of Detroit's recent awful history and smart enough to not want to get burned again?
"Maybe there might be a couple people out there in the back of their minds, subconsciously, are thinking that they don't want to lose on the Lions again. It really doesn't factor into any decision I believe."
Lions Recent Thanksgiving History
Year Opponent Result ATS Record
2001 Green Bay (-7) 29-27 L 1-0
2002 New England (-6) 20-12 L 1-1
2003 Green Bay (-6.5) 22-14 W 2-1
2004 Indianapolis (-8.5) 41-9 L 2-2
2005 Atlanta (-3) 27-7 L 2-3
2006 Miami (-2.5) 27-10 L 2-4
2007 Green Bay (-3) 37-26 L 2-5
2008 Tennessee (-11) 47-10 L 2-6
2009 Green Bay (-11.5) 34-12 L 2-7
2010 New England (-7.5) 45-24 L 2-8
2011 Green Bay (-4.5) 27-15 L 2-9
2012 Houston (-4) 34-31 L 3-9
Oakland (7-4 ATS) at Dallas (8-3 ATS)
Current Line: Dallas -9.5
Cantor Gaming line in May: Dallas -7
Dallas has been almost the complete opposite of Detroit on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys are 8-4 ATS since 2001, and hold the best spread record in the league at 8-3.
But with the big spread, the public and sharps are staying away, but the wise guys have made a move on the total.
"We just took a play about ten minutes ago on the over," said Stoneback.
The total was set at 45.5 and it has ballooned to 47.5. When asked who made the play, Stoneback replied, "that was a sharp."
Stoneback feels that the line and the fact that the Raiders are playing will lead this game to being lightly bet.
"I don't think there's gonna be any big action on that game. If there is, on Thanksgiving we have the same thing, the public is on the favorite. So we have any action the public will be betting on the favorite."
Cowboys Recent Thanksgiving History
Year Opponent Result ATS Record
2001 Denver (-7) 26-24 L 1-0
2002 Washington (-1) 27-20 W 2-0
2003 Miami (+3) 40-21 L 2-1
2004 Chicago (+3.5) 21-7 W 3-1
2005 Denver (+1.5) 24-21 L 3-2
2006 Tampa Bay (+11) 38-10 W 4-2
2007 NY Jets (+14.5) 34-3 W 5-2
2008 Seattle (+12) 34-9 W 6-2
2009 Oakland (+13.5) 24-7 W 7-2
2010 New Orleans (-4.5) 30-27 L 8-2
2011 Miami (+7) 20-19 W 8-3
2012 Washington (+3.5) 38-31 L 8-4
Pittsburgh (5-6 ATS) at Baltimore (5-5-1 ATS)
Current line: Pittsburgh -3
Cantor Gaming line in May: Pittsburgh -2.5
Unlike the Packers-Lions rivalry, which doesn't really exist because Detroit has played one playoff game since 2000 and Green bay has played 16 playoff games in that time, the Steelers-Ravens has postseason lineage and high-profile timeslots. This results in a gravitational pull to the window for the sports bettor. And for those playing the Steelers, you've been in the money.
Since 2008, when both John Harbuagh and Joe Flacco arrived in Baltimore, Pittsburgh holds a 8-3-2 ATS record over the Ravens.
"It's usually a pretty good bet game," said Stoneback. "There's not usually a lean to either side. Just as usual, it seems to be whatever team is playing hot or got the hot hand."
And the public wasn't waiting until after the apple pie on Thursday to get involved. Baltimore opened as a field goal-favorite, and the sharps made plays on Pittsburgh. While the spread hasn't moved down, the price has, meaning to get $100 from a bet on the Ravens, you now have to put $120 instead of the usual $110. The Steelers, meanwhile, will give you even money for the victory at the moment. Any more action on Pittsburgh will result in the line moving to 2.5.
"This is a prime time game so we expect to have some good action on this game. A big rivalry and people have had their meal and they're ready to go."
These two perennial playoff contenders and former Super Bowl champions are slogging through mediocre seasons. So who is actually better right now?
"That's a tough call," said Stoneback. "based on the line it says both teams are equal with the Ravens getting the -3 at home. In my opinion, I still think the Ravens are a little bit better.
"But I'm wrong a lot. Or I'd be on the other side of the counter."
Year Matchup ATS Record
2008 BAL 20 PIT 23 (-6) Baltimore 1-0
2008 PIT 13 BAL 9 (-3) Tied 1-1
2008 BAL 14 PIT 23 (-6) Pittsburgh 2-1
2009 PIT 17 BAL 20 (-8) Pittsburgh 3-1
2009 BAL 20 PIT 23 (-3) Pittsburgh 3-1-1
2010 BAL 14 PIT 17 (-2.5) Pittsburgh 4-1-1
2010 PIT 13 BAL 10 (-3) Pittsburgh 5-1-1
2010 BAL 24 PIT 31 (-3) Pittsburgh 6-1-1
2011 PIT 7 BAL 35 (-1.5) Pittsburgh 6-2-1
2011 BAL 23 PIT 20 (-3.5) Pittsburgh 6-3-1
2012 BAL 13 PIT 10 (+3) Pittsburgh 6-3-2
2012 PIT 23 BAL 20 (-7.5) Pittsburgh 7-3-2
2013 BAL 16 PIT 19 (-2.5) Pittsburgh 8-3-2