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Every week during the NFL season, theScore's betting writers release their best bets. Each writer has been given an imaginary $1,000 bankroll to manage throughout the campaign. If you decide to follow any of the picks, please gamble responsibly.
Odds are courtesy of theScore Bet.
Season record: 14-11-2, +$63
Nobody wants to root for a bad game on Thanksgiving, but everything about this matchup is ugly. The Bears' offense is in disarray - as evidenced by the team playing in five straight unders - while the Lions will either trot out injured backup Jeff Driskel or third-string rookie David Blough. Good luck, Detroit.
As if this matchup wasn't juicy enough, consider this: Since 2009, Thursday games with a total of 40 or less have gone 17-3 to the under. A short week means these two bad offenses won't have much time to game plan, which sets this up as a prime under spot.
Pick: Under 39 ($75)
If midweek money hadn't pushed the Bears from -2.5 to -3, that line would have been the second-best play on the board. Instead, bet high on a Bucs squad riding nine straight overs - the longest streak by any team since 2012 - against a suspect Jaguars secondary. Tampa Bay can't stop anybody, either, which should make for some nice theater between two bad teams.
Pick: Over 49 ($25)
The Browns have gone 5-1 to the under against PFF's top seven defenses this season, including their Week 11 matchup with the Steelers in the infamous "helmet swing" game. Expect a physical rematch against Pittsburgh, which boasts PFF's best defense but can't stay healthy on offense.
Pick: Under 40 ($25)
Season record: 10-8 ($0)
It's been tough to squeeze even double-digit scoring out of the Redskins this season, but you can't really blame them, as they've faced units that currently rank No. 1, 2, 5, 8, 9, 11, and 13 in DVOA. Carolina is right inside the top half at No. 15, but a Redskins interim head coach who wants to run the football might have success against the Panthers, who own the league's worst rush defense DVOA. So, this might be the week that sees the Redskins flirt with 20 points, although we don't necessarily need that big of a contribution from them. Carolina should do the heavy lifting in this matchup against a defense that's No. 23 in both adjusted sack rate and explosive pass rate allowed.
Pick: Over 39.5 ($40)
Season record: 8-7-2, -$12
Some people may be wary of backing the Bears on Thanksgiving because of struggling quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. However, Trubisky produced his best game of the year against Detroit's 30th-ranked pass defense three weeks ago, throwing for 173 yards and three scores. The Lions could be down to third-string quarterback David Blough in this matchup, but even if Jeff Driskel plays, does it matter? Driskel is 1-7 straight up as a starter in the NFL.
My father once told me to always bet the Lions when they are underdogs on Thanksgiving. A few years later, we had to flee the state because he owed so much money. It turns out that theory is backward - Detroit's gone 0-11 SU and 0-10-1 ATS the last 11 times it has caught points on Turkey Day. Fade the toothless Lions and expect the Bears to win easy.
Pick: Bears -3 ($100)
Do you think Mike Tomlin and the Steelers want revenge after what took place two weeks ago? Tomlin's in-game decisions can certainly be criticized, but there's no debating that he's a master motivator. Cleveland hasn't swept Pittsburgh since 1988 - when I wasn't even old enough to drive. The last time oddsmakers made Cleveland a favorite in the Steel City was in 1989, and since then, the Browns have gone just 2-25 SU on the road versus the Steelers.
Need more? Tomlin is a remarkable 9-2 ATS as an underdog in December ... and Sunday is Dec. 1, so that trend counts. Ride the legend that is Duck Hodges in this one.
Pick: Steelers +2 ($100)
Season record: 11-14-1, -$299
You have to feel for Philip Rivers. It's been a lost season for the Chargers in what could be the pivot's last year with the franchise. And Rivers just hasn’t looked the same this season - he's been beaten up behind a makeshift offensive line and he's struggled with turnovers Meanwhile, Denver's defense ranks eighth in yards allowed and 11th in adjusted sack rate, and the unit's only gotten stronger throughout the season.
The Broncos should have plenty of success pounding the ball and be able to control the clock against a Chargers run defense that ranks 27th in DVOA. That should open up space downfield for a passing offense that poses all sorts of mismatches with Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, and Tim Patrick. The Broncos will win outright.
Pick: Broncos +2.5 ($70), Broncos ML +130 ($70)
Tomlin simply won't let his team lose this game. After the chaos at the end of Pittsburgh's first meeting with Cleveland, he'll be out for revenge and might be the best in the business in these situations. Devlin Hodges at quarterback will make a huge difference, and both Juju Smith-Schuster and James Conner are expected to return. The Steelers will stay in the wild-card hunt and essentially eliminate the Browns in the process.
Pick: Steelers ML +120 ($70)