Greg Cote's Thanksgiving Day NFL picks

Greg Cote, Miami Herald on

Published in Football



Happy Thanksgiving, all! The NFL’s first Thanksgiving Day game was in 1925 (no, wiseguy, I was not there), and this is the 17th year of the holiday tradition as a three-game tripleheader. The great John Madden will be honored during all three broadcasts. You are not required to solemnly toast the late coach and broadcaster at your family table Thursday or name a drumstick in his honor, although the NFL would appreciate it if you did.

BILLS (7-3) at LIONS (4-6)

Line: BUF by 10.

Cote’s pick: BUF, 31-23.

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

[This makes it 94 combined Thanksgiving games for Lions (83) and Bills (11).]

This is Buffalo’s second game in Detroit in five days, after the massive snowstorm in western New York relocated the Bills there last week. They went home and back instead of spending the week in Detroit. Dumb? Let’s see. Buffs have not been the same juggernaut lately, while Lions have discovered a defense and are feeling it on their first three-game win streak since 2017. Motown also could enjoy a better home lift than usual in its 83rd Bird Day game dating to 1934. Bills are better across the board, but I see Lions’ defense bringing out one or two of the turnovers lurking inside Josh Allen and keeping this one inside the betting line. (In the Cote house at kickoff: Bird already roasting in the oven and side dishes being created in a merry beehive of kitchen frenzy.)

GIANTS (7-3) at COWBOYS (7-3)

Line: DAL by 9 1/2.


Cote’s pick: DAL, 34-13.

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

[This makes it 71 combined Thanksgiving games for Cowboys (55) and Giants (16.)]

Dallas hosts its 45th consecutive Thanksgiving Day game with an NFC East battle for second place — only the second Bird Day meeting between these rivals and first since 1992. The holiday stage, rivalry and stakes assure Dallas won’t let down after last week’s 40-3 spanking of Minnesota. ‘Boys on a 10-1 run in series, have scored 35-plus in each of past three wins and should keep that domination going. NYG’s run defense won’t stop Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott, and Daniel Jones will struggle with a Cowboys D leading NFL in sacks. G-Men also have lost past six straight trips to Arlington. Make it seven. (In the Cote house at kickoff: Feast is close to table-bound but not quite. By mid-meal, though, there will be ears out for the game playing softly in the next room.)

PATRIOTS (6-4) at VIKINGS (8-2)

Line: MIN by 2 1/2.

Cote’s pick: NE, 23-20. Upset!

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

[This makes it 15 combined Thanksgiving games for Vikings (9) and Patriots (6).] My seasonlong suspicion of Vikes as overrated proved right in that 40-3 home loss to Dallas. Now in Pats comes a defensive challenge just as great. And for all the talk about NE being so awful on offense, it has scored only 16 fewer points than Minny across 10 games. Defense though is clearly why Pats have won five of past six and it is the biggest edge for them here. Minnesota is 4-8 in past 12 Thursday games, and the Patriots pass rush will bother Kirk Cousins, who is 10-18 in prime time games. Also see Mac Jones revving it up a bit vs. a Vikes secondary allowing second-most air yards in league. Upset! (In the Cote house at kickoff: Bellies are full, dishes are cleared, imbibing perhaps continues and Greg is vowing to stay awake for the whole game as a soft wave of tryptophan slowly closes in.)

(Note: Betting lines courtesy Caesars Sportsbook as of Tuesday afternoon.)

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