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Bills vs. Lions prediction: Bet on Detroit to cover as big home underdog

The Lions may not halt their long Thanksgiving losing skid, but they should turn in another competitive effort at home

Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown runs after a making a catch against the New York Giants on Sunday. The Lions, who are on a three-game winning streak, are a big home underdog for Thursday’s Thanksgiving matchup against the Buffalo Bills. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown runs after a making a catch against the New York Giants on Sunday. The Lions, who are on a three-game winning streak, are a big home underdog for Thursday’s Thanksgiving matchup against the Buffalo Bills. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)Read moreJamie Squire / Getty Images

The Detroit Lions are riding their first three-game winning streak since 2017. They’re also riding a five-game Thanksgiving Day losing skid that dates to 2017.

None of those five Turkey Day defeats came against an opponent that walked into Ford Field favored to win the Super Bowl. Or an opponent that had a top-five NFL ranking in both points scored and points allowed. Or an opponent that won and covered at Ford Field just four days prior.

Yet that’s the exact scenario Detroit (4-6 SU, 6-3 ATS) will encounter Thursday when it entertains the heavily favored Buffalo Bills (7-3 SU, 5-4-1 ATS).

Can the Lions buck the odds, snap their Thanksgiving Day losing skid and win a fourth consecutive game for the first time in nearly six years? Seems unlikely.

What about covering a near-double digit point spread? Now that seems reasonable.

Here’s how we’re betting Bills vs. Lions in the traditional opener of the NFL’s Thanksgiving trifecta.

Note: All odds updated as of 11:45 a.m. ET on Nov. 23.

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Bills vs. Lions Prediction

  1. Lions +9.5 (at FanDuel)

Bills vs. Lions Prediction: Analysis

The Bills bounced back from a pair of upset losses to the Vikings (33-30 at home in overtime) and Jets (20-17 on the road) with Sunday’s 31-23 thumping of Cleveland. It was a game that was relocated to Detroit because of a dangerous snowstorm that pummeled Buffalo last weekend.

Obviously, there were some unique logistical issues the Bills had to overcome. And a win is a win (especially in the NFL). Still, it’s not like Josh Allen and Co. thoroughly dominated the Browns in the way the final score indicates.

Buffalo needed a late second-quarter touchdown to take a 13-10 halftime lead. And while they ended up covering the closing 7.5-point spread, the Bills still got outgained 396-357. They also let Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett complete 28 of 41 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns.

Granted, some of Brissett’s numbers were accumulated in garbage time. But it was the second straight game in which Buffalo got torched by a mediocre quarterback (Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins threw for 357 yards the previous week).

Other stats suggest the Bills’ once-stout defense is slipping. Prior to facing the Browns and Vikings, Buffalo hadn’t given up more than 21 points all season. And after allowing 12.2 points per contest in the first five games, it has surrendered an average of 22.6 in the last five.

That’s a concern heading into Thursday, because the Lions put up 31 points each of the past two weeks, both on the road against the Bears and Giants. They also have scored at least 27 points in four of five home games.

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Even though it only won two of those five contests, Detroit has been competitive at Ford Field all season (three losses by 3, 3 and 4 points). In fact, the Lions have only no-showed twice this year — back-to-back blowout losses at New England (29-0) and, following a bye, at Dallas (24-6).

On the flip side, since opening with two lopsided wins over the Rams and Titans by a combined score of 72-17, the Bills have recorded just one blowout victory (38-3 over the Steelers at home in Week 5).

Beyond those three contests, here are the final scores in Buffalo’s games: 21-19 (loss), 23-20, 24-20, 27-17, 20-17 (loss), 33-30 (loss), 31-23. The Bills’ point spread record in those seven contests: 2-5-1, including 1-3 ATS when favored by more than four points.

Finally, while Detroit has gone half a decade since a Thanksgiving victory, it only got clobbered once (41-25 loss to Houston in 2020 — when no fans were in the stands). The other four defeats were by margins of seven, seven, four and two points.

Did the Lions face a team as good or as lethal as the Bills in any of those five Thanksgiving losses? Not at all. But this Detroit outfit is better (and more competitive) than any the franchise has fielded since consecutive 9-7 seasons in 2016 and 2017.

Barring further damage to his sprained throwing elbow, Allen almost certainly will put up points at Ford Field for a second straight week. Because most teams have shredded Detroit’s putrid defense.

But we expect the Lions’ offense to do its part to keep this game within reach. After all, take away the Patriots and Cowboys’ debacles — again, both on the road — and Detroit has averaged 30.5 points per game.

Grab the generous points at FanDuel and look for the Lions to get inside the number one way or another — and maybe even be within striking distance of an outright upset.

Bills vs. Lions Odds (via FanDuel)

  1. Point spread: Bills (-9.5, -118) @ Lions (+9.5, -104)

  2. Moneyline: Bills (-460) @ Lions (+360)

  3. Total: 54.5

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