How Can NFL Bettors Take Advantage of Thursday Games?

Because Thursday NFL games force teams to play on such short rest, we analyzed these situations in order to find value for NFL bettors. While we have touched on this concept in the past, improvements and updates to our Bet Labs software have allowed us to take this analysis even further to pinpoint profitable betting opportunities.

Based on our previous analysis, we already know that favorites historically outperform underdogs in Thursday NFL games. In fact, favorites have covered these games at a rate of 61.8% for a profit of +19.04 units since 2003.

Using this as our baseline, we revisited our Bet Labs software and found some interesting results that can not only be applied to this week’s three Thanksgiving games, but also for the rest of the season.

To start, we took an assist from our Monday Night Football analysis and looked at how favorites perform at larger point spreads. Or, in other words, we examined how teams performed against the spread (ATS) when “expected” to be better than their opponents.

After examining Bet Labs’ “Spread Range” filter, we quickly discovered that favorites of -3.5 or greater (or teams expected to be more than a field goal better than opponents) have posted a record of 42-22 (65.6%) ATS and cover by an average of 3.25 points.

The screenshot below, taken directly from Bet Labs, shows this in more detail:

NFL-Thursday-Favorites

While the results above are already impressive, we had another hypothesis to test:

Do favorites perform better on these short weeks later in the season?

To run this test, we simply applied Bet Labs’ “Game Month” filter to our existing NFL system and instantly confirmed our hypothesis. In Thursday games, favorites of -3.5 and greater are 32-15 (68.1%) ATS from the start of November through the rest of the regular season.

The screenshot below, taken directly from Bet Labs, displays the updated results:

NFL-Thursday-Favorites-Late-Season

Whether it’s superior talent, better coaching or that favorites are most likely jockeying for playoff spots this late in the season and therefore have more to play for, there does appear to be value for bettors backing these teams.

At the time of publication, the lines at Pinnacle for this year’s Thanksgiving games are as follows:

Dallas Cowboys (-9.5) vs. Oakland Raiders
Baltimore Ravens (-3) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Detroit Lions (-6) vs. Green Bay Packers

What are your thoughts on the analysis above and slate of Thanksgiving games? Do you like the favorites? Or are you planning on backing some of the underdogs instead?

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