Everybody has their favorite Thanksgiving dish, and handicapper Hank Goldberg is no different.
“I’m eating chalk for Thanksgiving,” Goldberg said with a chuckle.
Chalk has been the perfect side on turkey day the last three years, as favorites have gone 9-0 straight up and 8-1 ATS.
Goldberg, the former longtime ESPN analyst, went 5-0 ATS last week to tie for the lead in the Review-Journal NFL Challenge with a 34-24-2 ATS record (58.6 percent) with Westgate sportsbook vice president Jay Kornegay.
Goldberg, a Las Vegas resident, likes the Bears (-3½) over the Lions in the opener of a Thanksgiving tripleheader and the Saints (-6½) over the Falcons in the nightcap.
He’s staying away from the Cowboys, consensus 6½-point favorites over the Bills in the afternoon game after the line opened at 7.
“I don’t trust Dallas,” Goldberg, 79, said.
Detroit opened as a 1-point favorite over Chicago on the lookahead line at the Westgate before its 19-16 loss to the Redskins. The Bears shot up to 3½-point favorites because it appears the Lions will start rookie third-string quarterback David Blough, who went undrafted out of Purdue, with starter Matthew Stafford out and backup Jeff Driskel dealing with an injury.
“Nobody knows who he is except guys who went to Purdue,” Goldberg said. “If they have to play him against the Bears defense, that’s a tall order for his first start.
“Their other guy (Driskel) had three picks last week against Washington. So, either way, I like Chicago.”
Professional sports bettor Jeff Whitelaw backed the Bears as 1-point favorites, and CG Technology reported sharp plays on Chicago at minus 1, 1½ and 2. MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment also took sharp action on the Bears.
“Without Stafford, Detroit is a bet against,” Whitelaw said.
Chicago covered as a 3-point favorite over Detroit in a 23-16 win on Thanksgiving last season. The Lions are 5-10 ATS in their last 15 games on the holiday.
Saints (-6½) over Falcons
The Saints covered as 10½-point favorites over the Falcons in a 31-17 victory last Thanksgiving, as favorites improved to 10-3 ATS in prime-time games on the holiday. Goldberg expects New Orleans (9-2 SU, 7-4 ATS) to avenge its 26-9 loss to Atlanta on Nov. 10.
“Atlanta reverted to form last week (in a 35-22 loss to Tampa Bay). New Orleans has scored 34 points each of the last two weeks and should do well against that Atlanta defense,” he said. “There’s a good reason for that (favorite) trend. With that short week, teams don’t have a lot of time to prepare, so the better teams will hold up.”
Fans passed out on the couch for the night game haven’t missed much scoring the last five years, as the under is on a 5-0 streak.
CG Technology took sharp action on the Bills plus 7 at Dallas, which is on a 1-7 spread slide on Thanksgiving.
The Cowboys are 0-4 this season against teams with a winning record and on a 1-6 ATS skid vs. teams with a winning record. Buffalo (8-3) is tied with Arizona for the NFL’s best spread record at 7-3-1.
“It’s a big game both teams need to win,” said Ed Salmons, Westgate vice president of risk. “Buffalo plays good defense. As long as there’s not crazy turnovers, I think Buffalo will keep it somewhat close.”
CG Technology also reported sharp plays on the Titans (+3), Chargers (-1) and Browns (-1). MGM took sharp action on the Bengals. The Westgate took wiseguy action on the Raiders-Chiefs under, which is at 51½ after opening at 54½.
Caesars also took sharp plays on the Titans, Browns and Raiders-Chiefs under.
Whitelaw took the Raiders plus 10 and the Packers (-6) over the Giants.
In a possible Super Bowl preview, the Ravens (9-2) are 6-point home favorites over the 49ers (10-1) after the line opened at 4½.
“The 49ers defense looks amazing,” Salmons said. “It’ll be interesting to see if they can slow down Lamar Jackson. Nobody’s been able to do it.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the public bet Baltimore hard in this game. The perception right now is the Ravens are the best team.”
Vikings (+3) over Seahawks
Salmons likes the Vikings (+3) over the Seahawks on “Monday Night Football.”
“Even though Seattle’s record is 9-2, I don’t think they’re a 9-2 team. A fortunate series of events has made them look better than they are,” he said. “The Vikings (8-3) are off a bye and getting three is a bonus. I think this is a game the Vikings are going to win.”
NFL Challenge picks
Dave Tuley is taking the Bills (+6½) and Falcons (+7), and Doug Fitz is taking the Falcons in the RJ contest.
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