I was looking ahead to Thursday’s Thanksgiving football games today when I had a few spare minutes, and something really jumped out at me – this could be a really, really bad day for sportsbooks . The public pays more attention to football on Thanksgiving day than on most days, and the fact that there are three games means that people will be drawn to parlays and teasers even more than usual. The public also has a blind, undying love for the favorites, so it’s bad news for books that there are three very obvious favorites on Thursday. The Packers will be a popular pick over the Lions. The Cowboys are a public favorite at any time, never mind when they are at home against the Raiders. The Giants are popular all the time and will be very popular this week against a freefalling Denver team. Books will be desperately hoping for an upset of some sort or this could be ugly. The worse news from my point of view is that none of those games is particularly riveting. Matthew Stafford showed he had some game yesterday, but the Packers are a significantly better opponent, and it’s not clear how healthy he is. Bruce Gradkowski gave the Raiders a nice boost, but they aren’t at home this time, and they aren’t a good road team. The Giants aren’t playing great football right now, but compared to the Broncos they look like world-beaters. The chances are high that this won’t be a stunning display of football. Last year’s games weren’t any good, so I was hoping for more this year. Maybe next year.
If the football doesn’t get you excited on Thursday then maybe the college basketball will. Two nice tournaments get going that day – the 76 Classic and the Old Spice Classic. The best gamein the 76 Classic, which is in Anaheim, is a top 20 battle between Minnesota and Butler. Butler has a good shot at being the best mid-major in the country, and people are even talking about them as being a potential Final Four team. Minnesota is no slouch, either – Tubby Smith has made his mark on this team already, and they are going to be very competitive in an incredibly tough Big Ten. A Bug Ten squad is also the highlight of the Old Spice Classic, which takes place at Disney World. Michigan takes on Creighton in a big test of the Wolverines team – if they want to be a serious contender this year then this is the kind of game they need to win easily. There are a bunch of other good teams in action as well – West Virginia, Clemson, Xavier, and UCLA chief among them. At the very least, it will all be something to turn to if the football starts to drag. Games start at noon eastern and roll on right through midnight.