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Upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday Could Take Bite Out of Sportsbooks’ NFL Action

A marquee game in each of the NFL’s viewing windows on Sunday would usually indicate strong action at sportsbooks throughout the day.

Taysom Hill, shown looking for running room against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 8, is expected to replace injured star Drew Brees at quarterback for the New Orleans Saints against the Atlanta Falcons. (Image: Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

But with Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday, that might take a bite out of the number of tickets.

Now, I’m talking about a normal world here,” said Ed Salmons, the vice president of risk management and oddsmaking, to Casino.org. “Usually, 90 percent of our business will be done from 7 in the morning until kickoff at 10 a.m. before a holiday. Tourists that would come to town would take off earlier rather than stick around for the whole night. We’ll see this year. It’s a different world, so it’s hard to forecast.”

Perhaps helping matters is this week’s schedule. Not only are there quality games throughout the day, but there are four games in the afternoon window, compared to two last year, Salmons noted.

Big Change, Big Games

The big change is with the New Orleans Saints. The NFL’s all-time leading passer, Drew Brees, is out with broken ribs. He reportedly will be replaced not by veteran Jameis Winston, but by utilityman Taysom Hill. The 30-year-old Hill has thrown only 18 passes since entering the NFL in 2017.

The Saints are 3.5-point favorites. But the Falcons are getting most of the money.

If Brees was playing, this line would be more up to 7.5 or 8,” said Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings. “So, there’s not much of a drop-off. A lot of that has to do with the Saints being at home and the Saints’ defense.”

The first group of games is headlined by the Tennessee Titans (6-3) at Baltimore Ravens (6-3). Baltimore opened as 6.5-point favorites. The line dipped to as low as 5, but is up to 6.

“The Ravens have been struggling,” Avello said. “If you look at their offense, the production is down this year. Tennessee has been reeling. If you look at the playoff race, even at 6-3, they’re actually out of the seven teams.”

In the second wave of games, the Green Bay Packers (7-2) are at the Indianapolis Colts (6-3). The Packers are third in the NFL in scoring, and the Colts are fourth in scoring defense. Indianapolis, with three extra days off, is a 1.5-point favorite. But the Packers are getting about three-fourths of the money.

Rematch on Sunday Night

In the Sunday night game, it’s the Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) at the Los Angeles Raiders (6-3). The Raiders handed the Chiefs their only loss, a 40-32 verdict in Week 5.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the preseason favorite and favorite to again win NFL MVP, has thrown an unprecedented 25 touchdowns vs. one interception. That lone interception came against Las Vegas.

With Avello noting Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s superb 18-3 record after a bye, Kansas City is a 7.5-point favorite.

At FanDuel, the Chiefs have 88 percent of the spread money. Only the Miami Dolphins have more, with 95 percent against the Denver Broncos.

Week 11 Schedule

Here is the full Week 11 schedule, with betting lines from DraftKings.

Sunday’s Games

  • Titans at Ravens (-6.5), 1 p.m. (CBS)
  • Lions at Panthers (+2), 1 p.m. (Fox)
  • Eagles at Browns (-2.5), 1 p.m. (Fox)
  • Patriots at Texans (+2), 1 p.m. (CBS)
  • Steelers at Jaguars (+10.5), 1 p.m. (CBS)
  • Falcons at Saints (-3.5), 1 p.m. (Fox)
  • Bengals at Football Team (-1.5), 1 p.m. (CBS)
  • Dolphins at Broncos (+3.5), 4:05 p.m. (CBS)
  • Jets at Chargers (-9.5), 4:05 p.m. (CBS)
  • Cowboys at Vikings (-7), 4:25 p.m. (Fox)
  • Packers at Colts (-1.5), 4:25 p.m. (Fox)
  • Chiefs at Raiders (+8), 8:20 p.m. (NBC)

Monday’s Game

  • Rams at Buccaneers (-4), 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Bill Huber

Sports, sportsbetting----Football, from games to the draft, is Bill Huber’s passion. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, a Division III powerhouse where Bill watched games from the bench for a few seasons, he's reported on the NFL’s Green Bay Packers since 2008, first for Packer Report and now for Sports Illustrated’s Packer Central. He's covered two Super Bowls, writing features so insightful that they made some players’ moms cry. When not writing about football, he loves camping with his family, coaching his kids, playing with his two golden retrievers. But his real joy is in going toe-to-toe in cribbage with his wife. Email: bill.huber@casino.org.

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Bill Huber