When it comes to Thanksgiving traditions, betting against the Detroit Lions is right up there with eating turkey and mashed potatoes for many gamblers.
But Westgate sports book manager Ed Salmons has always backed the Lions on the holiday.
“I think I’ve bet Detroit every Thanksgiving my whole life and never won,” Salmons said with a laugh. “Every Thanksgiving, I wake up, eat breakfast, turn the TV on and they’re down 7-0. It’s like a tradition.”
Following a nine-game losing streak on Thanksgiving, Detroit had actually won four straight on turkey day before dropping a 30-23 decision to the Vikings last year.
The Lions are 3-point underdogs to the Chicago Bears in Thursday’s 9:30 a.m. game after the line was as high as 4. Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is doubtful after suffering a shoulder injury in Sunday night’s 25-20 win over Minnesota and Chase Daniel is expected to start.
“No team in the history of the NFL has played Sunday night and come back and played Thursday morning,” Salmons said. “I like Detroit.”
The Cowboys are consensus 7-point favorites over the Redskins in the afternoon game and the Saints are consensus 13-point favorites over the Falcons — with a total of 60½ — in the nightcap of the NFL tripleheader.
Colt McCoy will start at quarterback for Washington, which was still getting 7½ at several spots Wednesday afternoon.
“You can make a case for Washington here just because it’s so many points. The lookahead line was 4½,” Salmons said. “There’s no way I could ever bet Dallas. Either bet Washington or don’t bet.”
The books are going to need the Falcons to cover in a big way.
“The kids are just going crazy on New Orleans. They’re laying 13 like it’s Alabama,” Salmons said. “You’ve got to think Atlanta will be able to score some points in that game so 13 could be a lot.”
Michigan is a consensus 4½-point road favorite over Ohio State on Saturday in the marquee matchup of rivalry week despite beating the Buckeyes only once in the last 14 years.
Handicapper Paul Stone, who leads the Golden Nugget’s Ultimate Football Challenge with a stunning 52-21-4 ATS mark (71.2 percent), recommends a play on Ohio State.
“On paper, Michigan clearly looks like the better team,” said Stone (@PaulStoneSports). “But when you start looking a bit closer, Urban Meyer has certainly thrived as an underdog.”
Stone notes that Meyer’s Power 5 teams have gone 10-2 ATS as underdogs. Also, the Buckeyes are riding an 8-2 cover streak as underdogs against ranked teams.
“It figures to be a real close game,” Salmons said.
The Westgate opened Ohio State as a 7½-point favorite over Michigan before the season started and moved it to 9½ following the Wolverines’ season-opening loss at Notre Dame.
Stone expects the Mountaineers to beat the Sooners outright as 2½-point home underdogs Friday in what should be a shootout with a total of 84.
Oklahoma has allowed at least 40 points in each of its last three wins over Kansas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
“I just feel like Oklahoma has run out of magic,” Stone said. “Their defense has just got too many holes.”
The Cougars are consensus 2½-point home favorites over the Huskies on Friday despite losing the last five meetings by an average of 23.6 points. Washington was getting 3 points Wednesday at multiple books.
“I don’t even like Washington this year but Washington State shouldn’t be 3,” Salmons said. “I can guarantee you Washington will play a tough game here. Washington plus 3 is a gift.”
Stone also likes the Huskies getting 3 but has a stronger opinion on under the total, which is at 49 after opening at 54 with plenty of rain expected.
“I really like the game to go under, even at 49,” he said.
Stone’s best bet is on Boise State as a 2½-point home favorite over Utah State. The high-scoring Aggies escaped with a 29-24 win Saturday at Colorado State.
“Utah State certainly is the flavor of the day in the Mountain West this year,” Stone said. “But their schedule really has been weak.
“I’m taking the longtime top team in the conference over the new kid on the block.”
Salmons’ best bet is on Miami as a 4½-point home favorite over Pittsburgh in a revenge spot. The Panthers already have secured a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game.
“Think about if you’re a kid going to school in Pittsburgh and you get to go to Miami for a weekend game that doesn’t mean much and the other team has huge motivation to beat you,” Salmons said. “I really like Miami in that game.”
Good luck and have a great Thanksgiving.
Home team in CAPS
■ Kentucky (-17) over LOUISVILLE
■ BOISE STATE (-2½) over Utah State
■ MIAMI, FLA. (-4½) over Pittsburgh
■ Notre Dame (-10½) over SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
■ Arizona State (-2) over ARIZONA
Last week: 3-2 against the spread