Ezekiel Elliott
AP
Football Daily Dose

Thanksgiving Preview and Injury Updates

Updated On: November 28, 2019, 10:52 am ET

Happy Thanksgiving! Hayden Winks went in-depth on each today's three games, so I’ll only briefly give a betting angle on each contest before diving into the news and injuries.

 

Thanksgiving Games

The first game features the Chicago Bears hitting the road to face the Detroit Lions. The Bears opened as 1-point favorites and now sit at 3.5-point favorites with David Blough as the starter for Detroit. Blough was a multi-year starter at Purdue who completed 61.1 percent of his passes and signed with the Browns as an UDFA out of college. Blough getting the nod at QB explains the move on the total which has seen significant movement after opening at 41 and us now hovering around 38. The Lions have scored 13, 27, and 16 points in the Lions three games without Stafford with the first coming on the road against Chicago. With a team total likely to open right around 17/17.5, it’s tough to be an over-backer of the David Blough-led Lions. The Bears team total is projected to be at 20.5/21, a steep number for an offense that has scored more than 21 points just twice all season. Points might be tough to come by for both teams in this one. Bears WR Taylor Gabriel has already been declared out for Thursday’s game which likely gives more opportunities to Anthony Miller and Javon Wims. Lions TE T.J. Hockenson is questionable but is expected to play.

The second game on the slate should be a bit more interesting with the Buffalo Bills traveling to Jerry World to take on the Cowboys. The Cowboys opened as 8-point favorites but are sitting at seven in most spots with a few 6.5’s hanging around. The total has seen some movement towards the over, climbing up from 45 to 47. This means sportsbooks are projecting a 27-20 win in favor of the Cowboys. The Bills Offense has been really erratic this season but most of their success has been schedule-fueled. They have scored 20-or-more points just six times this season. All but last week’s game against the Broncos (20 points exactly) came against defenses that rank bottom-5 in defensive efficiency (Miami 2x, Washington, NY Giants, Cincinnati). Much of the same bodes true for Dallas’ offense which has scored over their projected team total of 27 six times this season. Five of the six times they exceeded this total was against defenses that rank 26th-or-worse in defensive efficiency (NY Giants 2X, Washington, Miami, Detroit). The Bills rank 14th.

The final game of turkey day is a rematch of the Week 10 matchup in Atlanta. In that game, the Saints were shellacked on the road 26-9 despite entering the game as double-digit favorites. Sportsbooks seem to think that game was an outlier as they list the Saints as 7-point favorites at home. The total also remains much higher than the last matchup's total output at 48.5. This means sportsbooks project team totals of 27.75 (Saints) and 20.75 (Falcons). With Matt Ryan as the starter the Falcons have scored 21-or-more points in 7-of-10 games this season. The Saints Defense is allowing teams to eclipse 21 at a similar rate with opponents reaching over the number in 7-of-11 outings. RB Devonta Freeman will play after missing the past two games but has a tough matchup against the Saints tough run defense. WR Julio Jones is questionable but participated in Wednesday’s walk-through which suggests he could wind up playing. Jones is expected to be guarded by Marshon Lattimore who’s listed as questionable and has a good shot at suiting up. If Jones sits, Calvin Ridley would draw Lattimore’s coverage.

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Injury News

JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) is still sporting a brace Wednesday. This is a bad start to the week for Smith-Schuster who is also recovering from a concussion. At the moment it seems unlikely he’ll play this week against the Browns as he recovers from both injuries.

Jordan Howard (shoulder) has yet to be cleared for contact. Howard is still considered “day-to-day” but needs to be cleared in order to play. If he's given the go-ahead he’d likely slide back into his old role as the primary early-down back. Miles Sanders has seen over 80 percent of the offensive snaps in Howard’s absence but has hardly produced. If Howard sits it’s worth going back to Sanders against the hapless Dolphins Defense.

Golden Tate (concussion) and Evan Engram didn’t practice on Wednesday. This is a bad start to the week for Tate who is still yet to clear concussion protocol. Right now it’s shaping up like Tate will miss the Giants’ Week 13 game against the Packers. Engram’s backup Rhett Ellison is also out which means Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepherd would soak up the majority of targets. Kaden Smith would be the Giants starting tight end if both Ellison and Engram sit.

Damien Williams (ribs) is not practicing Wednesday. Even with the bye week to rest, Williams isn’t healthy enough to practice. If he ends up missing their matchup against the Raiders, LeSean McCoy and Darrel Williams will share the backfield touches.

James Conner (shoulder) remained sidelined for Wednesday's practice. He’s likely to miss this week’s game against the Browns after personally saying “it’ll be a little longer.” Benny Snell is the backup and racked up 22 touches in last week’s game against Cincinnati. The Browns Defense is stronger than the Bengals but Snell should still see significant work. He’s a volume-based RB3 play in fantasy this week if Conner sits.

Matt Breida (ankle) returned to practice Wednesday. This is his first time playing since injuring his ankle in Week 10 against Seattle. Breida would likely slide back into his old role as the 1B to Tevin Coleman’s 1A if he suits up. This pushes Raheem Mostert back to the bench and makes him unusable for fantasy purposes.

Gerald Everett (knee) was sidelined for Wednesday's practice. He’s reportedly dealing with a hyperextended knee after only playing 31 percent of the snaps against the Ravens. His practice participation is something to monitor as he’s a viable streamer in the ultimate smash spot for tight ends against Arizona.

 

Quick Hits

Coach Doug Pederson said JJ Arcega-Whiteside will play an expanded role on offense with Jordan Matthews now out of the picture. Arcega-Whiteside is expected line up opposite of Alshon Jeffery on the outside. … Tyreek Hill (hamstring) is practicing in full Wednesday. It looks like Hill will be close to 100 percent for their Week 13 matchup against the Raiders. … Titans placed TE Delanie Walker (ankle) on injured reserve, ending his season. He has missed the last four games and was still a ways away from coming back. Jonnu Smith will continue to draw the majority of snaps and opportunities in his absence. … Speaking Wednesday, GM John Elway said Drew Lock and Brandon Allen will split the practice reps this week, and the Broncos will decide on a starter by Friday. This is about as uninteresting as a quarterback decision gets. Neither provides the Broncos with a very good chance of having success on offense. … Zach Ertz (hamstring) was sidelined for Wednesday's practice. This is likely nothing but is something to keep an eye on since he didn’t suffer an injury last week.


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