Favorites have come out on top in all five games of the 2021 TNF schedule thus far, but they’ve only managed to cover the spread twice. We’ll see what this week brings as the defending Super Bowl champs hit the road for an intriguing test as big favorites.
Below find all you need to know about how to bet on the NFL on Thursday Nights, including up-to-the-minute Thursday Night Football lines & odds direct from legal US online sportsbooks.
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The NFL regular season schedule has been expanded from 16 to 17 games. Each of the 32 clubs get one bye week over the course of an 18-week regular season (see how bye weeks affect betting here).
That bumps the total schedule up from 256 to 272 games. It’s great news for NFL bettors as there are more opportunities to get in the game, but also even more of a herculean task for the schedule makers who have to make it all work.
While computers and algorithms do a lot of the heavy lifting, special attention has to be paid to certain situations, such as how teams are scheduled for TNF. Overall, the goal is to make sure that no squad scheduled for this slot has to play on a short week more than once per season.
This year’s Thursday Night Football schedule offers many must-see matchups. Let’s take a closer look at the football games on tap. (All times Eastern)
The much-anticipated opening game of the regular season didn’t disappoint. The Cowboys put up a fight against the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, but a Ryan Succop 36-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining sealed the deal for the home squad. The ageless Tom Brady threw for 379 yards and three scores in the victory.
The Week 2 TNF affair also went down to the wire. After the Giants took a 29-27 lead with a late field goal, Taylor Heinicke led Washington down the field for an 11-play, 50-yard drive with two minutes left on the clock before Dustin Hopkins banged the game-winning field goal home. Heinicke threw for 336 yards and a pair of TDs in the win.
The Panthers travelled to Houston as big 8-point favorites and proved that the hype was more than warranted. Carolina held the Texans in check in a low-scoring affair, easily picking up the cover while pushing their straight-up record to a perfect 3-0. Sam Darnold threw for 304 yards and ran for a pair of TDs in the victory.
Anticipation was high for a meeting of the last two top picks in the NFL Draft. When all was said and done, it was Joe Burrow and the Bengals getting the best of Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars for an exciting home win. Jacksonville looked like it was headed towards its first win of the season, but Cincinnati roared back with 10 points to steal the victory.
The Rams stepped onto the field as 2.5-point road favorites. After playing to a scoreless tie in the first quarter. Los Angeles went into the locker room with a 7-3 halftime lead and held on for a 26-17 victory. The final score sailed well under the listed total of 54 points. Seattle QB Russell Wilson went down to injury in the loss and is expected to miss a few weeks.
The defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers (still among the betting favorites to win the Super Bowl), fresh off of a 28-point rout of the Dolphins, head to Philly for a showdown with the Eagles. Philadelphia picked up a surprising road win over the Panthers on Sunday and will look to keep the momentum going. Early lines have the Bucs as 7-point road favorites with the Over/Under set at 52 points.
Don’t look now, but the Browns just might be serious contenders in the AFC this season. The Broncos have some work to do to get to that level, so this TNF clash in front of the Dawg Pound will serve as a big chance to make a statement.
A pair of NFC contenders face off in the desert for the Week 8 TNF matchup. Green Bay came up short in last year’s NFC title game against the Buccaneers, while Arizona just missed out on qualifying for the postseason.
Is the Jets lengthy search for a franchise signal caller finally over? We’ll get some clues on the answer to that as Zach Wilson, the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, leads the team into battle against the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
2019 NFL MVP (and perennial NFL MVP odds favorite) Lamar Jackson and the Ravens take their talents to Miami to do battle with a Dolphins team that’s on the rise. The season is starting to get long in the tooth at this point, so this matchup could help to sort out the AFC playoff picture.
The Patriots missed the playoffs in 2020 for the first time since 2002, while the streak stands at three seasons with no postseason for the Falcons. This rematch of the Super Bowl LI thriller could be a pivotal one for both clubs.
The Bills and Saints were the two seeds in the AFC and NFC respectively last season, and both squads are legitimate postseason contenders once again. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome should be jumping for this Thanksgiving night affair.
A scheduling quirk has New Orleans hosting back-to-back Thursday night games. For this one, it’s an intriguing meeting of two clubs who could have a lot to say in the NFC this season when the Cowboys visit the Saints.
There’s just something about late-season NFL action in cold weather cities. There may be quite the chill in the air when the Steelers hit the road to take on the Vikings in this inter-conference battle of playoff contenders.
An old-school AFC West shootout could be in the cards when Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs head to La-La land to take on Justin Herbert and the Chargers. Kansas City has been in control of the division for some time now, but the hosts have potential to be a surprise playoff team.
The final TNF game of the season is an inter-conference matchup of two playoff contenders who have legitimate shots at division crowns. The 49ers are looking to bounce back after a disappointing 2020, while the Titans are looking to take an even bigger step forward.
Each game on the 2021 NFL Thursday Night Football slate is scheduled to kick off at 8:20 P.M. ET. The start time is the same regardless of broadcast outlet, but pregame festivities may vary by network. As always, dates, matchups, and times are subject to change, but the TNF schedule is set in stone barring any unforeseen circumstances.
Thursday Night Football kicks off the NFL viewing week, and it’s also a huge highlight at legal and regulated US online sportsbooks. You’ll have plenty of different bets to consider for the game, and there are typically some intriguing promos for TNF, too.
First, here are the basic bets you can place.
For props, many will revolve around specific statistical accomplishments of the players. This is also an area in which sportsbooks may throw out some odds boosts or other special promos, so be sure to watch out for them.
While you can’t do a typical parlay bet on TNF, you can combine bets – such as a moneyline and total or spread plus total – for a shot at enhanced returns. Many of these combos will pay out at positive odds, so keep them in mind when you have a good feel for the game.
When an NFL primetime game is on the docket, live betting opens the door to even more betting opportunities. For a busy Sunday afternoon slate, you have plenty of games to pick from, whereas the night games are standalone affairs.
You can bet right along with Thursday Night Football as the game plays out on your screen. Offerings will vary based on what’s going on, but here’s a peek at what you might see.
There will also be updated odds for sides and totals as the contest plays out. You’ll even be able to drill down on bets for specific segments of the game, such as the first quarter or second half.
Live betting markets move really fast, but sportsbook apps let you handle business quickly and efficiently. You’ll find current live betting opportunities featured prominently on the betting menu as well.
Once upon a time, bookmakers out in Las Vegas served as the first and last word on sports betting odds. While those talented folks remain at the top of their game, the market isn’t cornered any longer.
Sports betting has been legalized in a number of states now, and there will be more to come. Online sportsbooks in legalized sports betting states now provide lines that are right on point with Vegas NFL odds. The latest odds for every Thursday Night Football game can be found in the odds feed above.
For a game on a short week, the home side has a built in advantage. That has held up pretty well since TNF became a regular thing, but it’s important to remember that trends are no guarantee of what the future may hold.
However, home field makes for a great tiebreaker on Thursday nights. Here are some specific strategy tips you can use for the first NFL game of the week.
Rest or travel advantage: Does either side have one? Be sure to keep an eye on what has been going on with both teams of late. For example, a team that has had a recent bye may have a slight edge over a team that’s still waiting for theirs.
Splits: This goes beyond the basic home/away advantages. See how the teams are performing on all of the big betting metrics: moneyline, spread, and totals. Also, many TNF games are divisional affairs, so take records in those games in consideration.
Team/player primetime history: Some squads and athletes excel under the bright lights, while others shine brighter during the day. As part of your research, see what’s the case with both teams and their key players when it comes to night games.
Researching trends can be a useful part of any NFL betting strategy. However, it’s important to remember that historical trends are just one piece of the puzzle. What happened in the past is no guarantee of what’s to come in the future, but it can help you to build out a case.
Thursday Night Football can be one of the tougher games to break down successfully, mainly due to the short week of preparation that both sides have to deal with. If we look back at the scoreboards for the last three years, here’s what has happened with the Over/Under.
For 2019 and 2020, it was nearly split down the middle for totals results. However, when we look back at 2018, there was a clear advantage for the Over. Thanks to that, the Over side has a slight edge for the whole time period.
If you went solely with the Over for the last three seasons, you would have had a nice 2018, but you’d basically be treading water on an overall basis. For NFL bettors, that’s another strong argument for the importance of tracking results and adapting as needed.
Thursday Night Football games have been a thing for some time, but they became a regular part of the later season schedule in 2006. Fast forward to 2012, and TNF was expanded to run throughout the season.
From 2006 to the present day, some clubs have been up to the task when a TNF game pops up, while others have fallen quite short. Here’s a look at some of the notable facts and figures on TNF since 2006.
Since 2006, a handful of clubs have made regular appearances on TNF, while others haven’t been on all that much. Here’s a look at the total number of appearances and records on Thursday nights for all 32 teams over that span.
|San Francisco 49ers||16||9-7|
|Las Vegas Raiders||13||6-7|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||12||3-9|
|Kansas City Chiefs||11||8-3|
|Los Angeles Chargers||11||7-4|
|Los Angeles Rams||11||4-7|
|New England Patriots||10||8-2|
|New York Jets||10||4-6|
|Green Bay Packers||9||7-2|
|Washington Football Team||9||4-5|
|New York Giants||9||4-5|
|New Orleans Saints||9||4-5|
Unlike the other two NFL primetime games – Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football – TNF can be found in a couple of different spots during the course of the season. Here are the networks you can find the games on a week-by-week basis.
In short, NBC handles the opening game of the season and Thanksgiving night. NFL Network handles the rest of the games with FOX along for the ride after the first few weeks are in the books.
NBC and FOX can be found on a number of cable, satellite, and streaming packages. Local affiliates also carry the feed, so an antenna will do the trick in many areas. Availability of NFL Network can vary, so make sure it’s a part of any packages you’re looking at before signing up.
Amazon Prime is back on board as the streaming home for a good part of the TNF schedule in 2021. For games in which FOX is handling broadcast duties – Week 5-11 and Week 13-15 – you’ll also be able to pick up the feed on Amazon, as well as some alternative coverage.
NBC is the home for TNF in Week 1 and 12, so streaming options can be found at NBCSports.com and via the NBC Sports App. For Weeks 2-4 and the last TNF game of the season in Week 16, NFL Network is the exclusive home. You can access via NFL.com online and mobile, but you’ll need valid login credentials from your provider to watch. Also, the Yahoo Sports app provides coverage of primetime NFL games.
When NBC covers the games in Week 1 and 12, it’ll be Al Michaels or Mike Tirico on play-by-play and Cris Collinsworth with analyst duties. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman handle business for the NFL and FOX portions of the schedule.
The network that’s handling the game will also take care of the pregame with NFL Network providing extensive coverage right up until kickoff. Amazon Prime has a pregame option when on board for TNF streaming, and also provides alternate feeds with various commentators and analysts.