Quality opponents always mean trouble for Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. There is good news waiting for him today, however, because he’s getting a cupcake for breakfast.
Overeating and betting against the Lions have been Thanksgiving traditions for years, but one of those trends was interrupted last season, and it had nothing to do with turkey.
The Lions are 7-point favorites over the Chicago Bears in the first — and likely worst — of three NFL games on the menu.
“I think the Lions will get well at home and beat up on the Bears,” William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said.
Detroit (7-4) has dropped two in a row, on the road to Arizona and New England, with Stafford passing for no touchdowns and leading the offense to a total of five field goals. His performance was particularly poor in a 34-9 loss to the Patriots four days ago.
Stafford is an enigma, but so is Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who passed for only 130 yards Sunday in a 21-13 victory over Tampa Bay. Chicago came back from a 10-0 deficit despite 204 yards of total offense.
The Bears (5-6) were blasted in their past two road games, 55-14 by Green Bay and 51-23 by New England. Bogdanovich said he expects the Detroit defense to harass Cutler into turnovers and turn the game into a blowout.
The Lions had lost nine consecutive Thanksgiving Day games, with eight of the losses by double figures, before pounding Green Bay last year. But Stafford did not beat Aaron Rodgers, who was out with an injury. The Packers were a cupcake opponent without Rodgers.
Holidays are not vacation days for sports bettors, so the books will see a fair amount of business. Dallas is a 3-point favorite over Philadelphia in the second game, and San Francisco is a 1½-point home favorite over Seattle in the finale.
“We’ve got pretty good action so far, but most of it will be (today), believe it or not,” Bogdanovich said. “People don’t mind getting out of the house.”
The underdog is 23-8 against the spread in the Eagles-Cowboys series, according to RJ Bell of Pregame.com, and Dallas is 3-16 ATS when favored following a win. The teams are tied atop the NFC East at 8-3.
The Seahawks and 49ers are tied at 7-4, two games behind Arizona in the NFC West. Seattle has followed quarterback Russell Wilson to five straight covers in the series.
The total is 48 in the Bears-Lions game, and Eagles-Cowboys shapes up as a shootout with a total of 56. The Seahawks-49ers game has a total of 39½ to 40, after the rivals combined for 32 and 36 points in their regular-season meetings a year ago.
“The public probably will bet both early games over the total,” Bogdanovich said. “What do you do with Seahawks-Niners? That looks like a 17-14 game to me.”
■ R-J CHALLENGE — Four contestants in the Review-Journal NFL Challenge, which is published Sundays, are playing games today based on the Westgate SuperContest lines.
Micah Roberts (The Linemakers on SportingNews.com) is on the Bears plus-7, and Las Vegas handicapper Mike Scalleat is laying points with the Lions. Doug Fitz (Systemplays.com), Mark Franco (FrancoSports.com) and Scalleat are siding with the Seahawks plus-1.
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at email@example.com or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.