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Thanksgiving is one of the best days of the year. We stuff ourselves with food, spend time with family and get to watch football all day. Seriously, it doesn't get much better than this. I don't even like turkey, but I can't deny the awesomeness of Thanksgiving.
Just like turkey, stuffing and pie are food based traditions on Thanksgiving, there are football related Thanksgiving traditions. Unfortunately, we're forced to watch the Detroit Lions while we get ready for the festivities. Then right in the heart of the day, we sit on the couch with Uncle Tony and get to watch the Dallas Cowboys. This year, the Cowboys are 7.5-point favorites against the Las Vegas Raiders.
A Thanksgiving tradition like no other
Outside of the Super Bowl, Thanksgiving likely features the highest percentage of casual fans watching the game. Think about it in terms of your own family. You probably have uncles and cousins and grandparents sitting down to watch the game. You also know these people aren't sitting down or grinding away at a Browns-Bengals game in Week 7.
The Dallas Cowboys are the most popular football team in the world. There's a reason they're referred to as "America's Team." With all of these casual fans watching the most popular team in the world, are the Dallas Cowboys overvalued by the betting market on Thanksgiving? You bet.
Over the last 10 years, the Cowboys have played 10 games on Thanksgiving. They've been favorites in every game but one. In 2017, Dallas was a 1-point underdog against the Chargers. Despite that, the Cowboys have gone just 4-6 straight up and an awful 1-9 against the spread over that timeframe. Last year, they lost by 25 points as a 3-point favorite.
Over the last 10 years, the Cowboys have been favored by an average of 4.5 points on Thanksgiving. Their average margin of victory over this time period is -8.6 points per game, meaning they're underperforming the betting line by an average of 13.1 points on Thanksgiving.
Here's a list of the 10 most recent Thanksgiving games involving the Cowboys:
2020 Dallas (-3) vs. Washington: Washington 41, Dallas 16
2019 Dallas (-6.5) vs. Buffalo: Buffalo 26, Dallas 15
2018 Dallas (-7) vs. Washington: Dallas 31, Washington 23
2017 Dallas (+1) vs. LA Chargers: LA Chargers 28, Dallas 6
2016 Dallas (-5.5) vs. Washington: Dallas 31, Washington 26
2015 Dallas (-1.5) vs. Carolina: Carolina 33, Dallas 14
2014 Dallas (-3.5) vs. Philadelphia: Philadelphia 33, Dallas 10
2013 Dallas (-8) vs. Oakland: Dallas 31, Oakland 24
2012 Dallas (-3.5) vs. Washington: Washington 38, Dallas 31
2011 Dallas (-7) vs. Miami: Dallas 20, Miami 19
Other trends favor Cowboys
While the Cowboys don't perform well on Thanksgiving, there are three other trends worth monitoring that would favor the Cowboys.
Since 2005, favorites are 32-14 on Thanksgiving against the spread, covering at a 70% clip. This season, the Chicago Bears are 3.5-point favorites over the Detroit Lions and the Buffalo Bills are favored by 4.5 points over the New Orleans Saints.
Dallas' opponent on Thursday, the Las Vegas Raiders, have lost three straight games after opening the season with a 5-2 record. They've failed to cover the spread in all three games, being outscored 96-43 over that period.
Dallas has been a machine against the spread this season, despite the fact they failed to cover last week against Dallas. The Cowboys are 8-2 against the spread this season, giving them the second best record of all teams against the number this season.
As always, you can find a trend or statistic to fit almost any narrative. However, there's no denying that the Cowboys are usually laying a few extra points on Turkey Day.