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Matthew Stafford, Lions look to extend Thanksgiving Day success

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said the turkey tastes a lot better on Thanksgiving when you win.

For years, Detroit made the turkey taste like the dried-out bird overcooked by Cousin Eddie’s wife in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

The Lions lost nine straight Thanksgiving Day games from 2004 to 2012, but have since treated their backers to scrumptious feasts in winning and covering their past four games on the holiday.

Detroit was a 1½-point favorite over Minnesota on the look-ahead line at the Westgate sports book. But public money on the Vikings has made Minnesota a 3-point favorite.

“We received sharp money on Detroit on the look-ahead line,” Westgate sports book manager Ed Salmons said. “Now Minnesota is minus-3 because they played a good game against the Rams. That’s just a crazy adjustment.”

CG Technology sports book vice president Matt Holt said the Lions are the biggest liability of the week in the NFL.

“We’re going to end up needing the Lions pretty good,” he said.

The Vikings (8-2) beat the Rams 24-7 on Sunday for their sixth straight win and fifth consecutive cover. They haven’t lost since Oct. 1, when they fell 14-7 to Detroit at home.

The Lions have won three straight and five of the past seven meetings with Minnesota, including a 16-13 victory last Thanksgiving.

“I feel like Detroit plus-3 is a really good bet,” Salmons said. “They’ve played really good at home this year. Minnesota’s off a short week and has to travel for an early start. The Detroit crowd will be really juiced up. It’s a huge game for the Lions.

“I don’t see any way Detroit’s going to get overwhelmed in that game.”

Big line move in Big D

There was an even bigger line move in the afternoon game. The Cowboys opened as 4½-point favorites over the Chargers before one-sided action on the underdog has made Los Angeles a 2-point favorite.

Holt said the Pros and the Joes are on the Chargers. Or, more accurately, against Dallas, which has been outscored 64-16 the past two weeks in losses to the Falcons and Eagles. The Cowboys again will be missing running back Ezekiel Elliott and linebacker Sean Lee. Left tackle Tyron Smith is questionable.

“Everyone’s just really down on the Cowboys,” Holt said.

Salmons liked the Chargers getting more than a field goal but isn’t as confident laying points with Los Angeles, which has lost four games by three points or fewer.

“You can argue the Chargers right now are a much better team than Dallas,” he said. “But whenever there’s a close game, they always find a way not to win.”

Leftovers

Holt said the sharps are on the Giants as 7½-point underdogs to the Redskins in Thursday’s NFL nightcap. He said the pros also are all over Mississippi on Thursday as 14½-point home underdogs to Mississippi State.

Rivalry games

The Iron Bowl highlights a slate of college football rivalry games. Alabama opened as a 7-point favorite, but heavy action on home underdog Auburn has dropped the line to 4½.

The Crimson Tide barely escaped Mississippi State with a 31-24 win and has suffered several key injuries on defense. The Tigers have scored at least 40 points in their past four games, including a 40-17 win over then-No. 1 Georgia.

“Auburn is such a solid team this year. If they win this game, it’s not going to surprise me,” Salmons said. “Unless Alabama gets back the kids that have been out, Auburn’s in a really good spot there.”

The Game

The Pros and Joes are backing Ohio State, which is favored by as many as 13 over Michigan after the line opened at 11. The Wolverines’ quarterback situation is unclear with starter Brandon Peters in concussion protocol.

But Holt and Salmons are wary of backing the Buckeyes.

“I don’t like betting against a double-digit underdog at home in what is essentially the Super Bowl of their season,” Holt said.

Sunshine State showdown

Holt said the sharps are on South Florida (plus-10½) over Central Florida on Friday. Salmons also likes the Bulls.

“The spread is just astronomical,” Salmons said. “I think UCF is going to win, but I would take the points with South Florida.”

Apple Cup

Salmons also likes another sharp play in Washington (minus-9½) over Washington State, which needs to win to advance to the Pac-12 title game against Southern California.

“Washington is essentially playing spoiler,” he said. “There’s no pressure on Washington.”

Second helping of sharp plays

Holt said the sharps also are on Texas Tech (+9½) over Texas, California (+7) over UCLA, Michigan State (-14) over Rutgers and Arizona (-2) over Arizona State.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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