Thanksgiving might just be the best day of the year. It's filled with food, drinks, family and most importantly, a full day of football. Explaining to your family why you're sweating a random Detroit Lions game is a fun yearly tradition. Since 1966, the Dallas Cowboys playing on Thanksgiving has become an annual tradition. In recent years, Thanksgiving hasn't been kind to Dallas, especially at the betting window. This year, the Cowboys are a 9.5-point favorite over the New York Giants.
Dallas has struggled on Thanksgiving
Since 2011, the Dallas Cowboys have played eleven games on Thanksgiving. Over that time period, they've been favored in every Thanksgiving game but one. The lone time they were an underdog was 2017, when they were a 1-point underdog against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Despite consistently being favored, the Cowboys are just 4-7 straight up on Thanksgiving over that time frame. More importantly, they are a putrid 1-10 against the spread in those eleven games. Here's a list of games the Cowboys have played on Thanksgiving since 2011:
2021 Dallas (-7) vs. Las Vegas: Las Vegas 36, Dallas 33
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
On average, the Cowboys have been favored by 4.7 points per game on Thanksgiving. Instead, their average margin of defeat has been 8.1 points in those games. That means on average, they're underperforming the spread by 12.8 points on Thanksgiving since 2011.
Thanksgiving is obviously a day where a lot of casual fans are watching and betting games. No team is more popular across the country than Dallas. Does this combination lead to inflated spreads on America's team? It surely seems that way. Dallas is a 9.5-point favorite against the Giants on Thursday this year.
Lions also struggle on Thanksgiving
The Dallas Cowboys are a fixture on Thanksgiving, but so are the Detroit Lions. And like the Cowboys, the results for Detroit haven't been great.
Detroit covered as a 3.5-point underdog against the Chicago Bears last season, but ended up losing the game by a score of 16-14. The Lions are 3-18 straight up and just 7-14 against the spread as an underdog on Thanksgiving since 1990.
The Buffalo Bills are 9.5-point favorites against the Lions on Thursday. Road favorites in Detroit on Thanksgiving are 13-0 straight up and 10-3 against the spread, covering by an average of nearly 9 points per game. Since 2005, favorites not named the Dallas Cowboys are 28-8 against the spread on Thanksgiving.
Additionally, points have been scored in Lions games on Thanksgiving. In the last 10 years, the over is 7-3 in Lions' Thanksgiving games.