A lot is riding on Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. About the time turkey is served, Romo will take the field with the potential to make or break Thanksgiving dinner for bettors and bookmakers across the country.
In the middle of the NFL’s three-game lineup, the Cowboys are 8½-point favorites over the Oakland Raiders, and bookmakers are pulling for the lame Romo to show up for today’s sandwich game.
“It looks like 80 percent of our tickets are going to be on the Cowboys,” LVH sports book director Jay Kornegay said.
The erratic Romo is in the midst of one of his finest seasons, passing for 23 touchdowns to position Dallas (6-5) in a first-place tie in the NFC East.
In the day’s opener, Detroit is a 6½-point favorite over Green Bay. In the nightcap, Baltimore is a 3-point favorite over Pittsburgh. Kornegay is anticipating balanced action on the games not involving the Cowboys.
“One of the first things I look at when the schedule comes out every year is which teams are playing on Thanksgiving,” Kornegay said. “It can be a lopsided day with the public coming in and betting the favorites and creating a lot of liability. But I think the bookmakers got a favorable schedule this year.”
The Lions are rarely favorites on Thanksgiving, and for good reason, because they are 0-9 straight up and against the spread the past nine years on this day.
But with the Packers still without injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the line has been adjusted approximately 10 points. Green Bay, 0-3-1 straight up since Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone Nov. 4, plans to start Matt Flynn in place of Rodgers.
“If Rodgers was healthy and starting, it would be Green Bay minus-3 or 3½, and probably 70 or 75 percent of the betting would be on the Packers,” Kornegay said. “The Lions are better than in years past.”
The underachieving Lions, 2-5 ATS in their past seven games, are a risky investment. But the same goes for Flynn and the Packers, so bettors might be searching for a better option.
Bryan Leonard, a handicapper for Footballwinners.com and Pregame.com, recommends Oakland-Dallas over the total of 47½.
“This line has risen a bit from the opener, but expect it to rise even further once the game-day bettors get involved,” Leonard said. “Dallas can move the ball on anyone, and its defense is playing without key components. Even when healthy, the defense had many questions. On a short week of preparation, we give the edge to the offenses.”
Oakland’s offensive efficiency has improved, Leonard noted, with Matt McGloin at quarterback. The Raiders also could benefit from the return of oft-injured running back Darren McFadden.
Kornegay said tickets linking the Cowboys and over the total will be today’s most popular parlay combination.
The Steelers-Ravens battle is unlikely to be a beauty pageant. Both teams are 5-6, and their meetings are typically closely contested and low scoring. Pittsburgh beat Baltimore 19-16 on Oct. 20, continuing a series trend.
Nine of the teams’ 11 meetings since 2008 were decided by exactly 3 points, with the Steelers going 6-5 straight up.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Brian Blessing, a radio host and handicapper for DonBest.com. “You can’t lay 3 with anybody. About the best you can hope for is a push, so you’ve got to take the ‘dog.”
Pittsburgh is in better form, winning and covering three consecutive games while quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has heated up.
“Those two teams mirror each other,” Kornegay said, “and I think that game is going to attract two-way action.”
x R-J CHALLENGE — Five of 10 contestants in the Review-Journal NFL Challenge, which is published Sundays, are playing today’s games based on LVH SuperContest lines:
Kornegay and Joe D’Amico (Aasiwins.com) are siding with the Lions (-6½). D’Amico and Dave Tuley (ViewfromVegas.com) are on the Steelers (+3). Chuck Edel (Pregame.com) is on the Raiders (+9½). Doug Fitz (Systemplays.com) has all three underdogs.
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.