Bills vs. Lions: 3 must-bet player props for NFL Week 12


For the third time in four years, the NFL has blessed us with a Thanksgiving Day Buffalo Bills game! This year, the Bills and Detroit Lions are the first game of the day, and that means a quick turnaround for the betting markets. Pretty much all of the props are already out (11/23 7:30 am) and you can move early.

Three Props and a Cloud of Dust kept moving forward last week with another 2-1 effort. Motor Singletary easily went over 48.5 rush yards, but the Bills held Nick Chubb – who had runs of more than 20 yards in around 18 of 20 games – to 19 yards total. Proud to lose to that defensive effort. We also saw Donovan Peoples-Jones go over his 44.5 receiving yards total in exactly the way we predicted and the stats supported – he is one of the best garbage-time WRs in the NFL.

Let’s get that analysis money.

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First Things First

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  1. Never bet more than you can afford to lose.
  2. Don’t chase a bet.
  3. Don’t bet on what you don’t understand
  4. Check the other sportsbooks’ lines
  5. See Rule #1.

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Lastly, these are recommendations, not guarantees. Act accordingly.

Game Script

Last week the Bills significantly changed their utilization of personnel groupings with more use of heavy sets, particularly with 21. The Bills adapted with various formations to take advantage of some of the Browns’ weaknesses in run defense. Buffalo ran 19 plays with 21 personnel (2 RB, 1 TE) out of a total of 61 snaps, good for 31%. Their average use of 21 during Weeks 1-10 was 17% (SIS). This week, the Lions don’t have that same statistical marker, They are much closer to the middle of the pack in most rush D stats against 21. Don’t be surprised if the Bills are much more back in line with their typical 11 personnel focus.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t advantages to exploit with this Lions’ D, and they fall into the Bills’ preferred formation.

Facing 11 personnel (SIS):

  • 6th most passing yards allowed (2068), 5th most Y/G against (206.8)
  • 6th most passing TDs allowed (13)
  • 2nd(T) in Y/ATT allowed (8.0)
  • 5th Worst QB Rating Against (98.7)
  • 5th most Y/Coverage Snap (6.9)
  • 3rd worst EPA/Play allowed (0.13)
  • 4th worst Boom % allowed (26.2)

Also, Detroit blitzes at the 6th highest rate (33%) in the NFL. Josh Allen has the 5th best TD % against 5 or more pass rushers (8.6%) and the highest average depth of throw (8.7 yds).

The Bills have a talent advantage at almost every position and especially so in the passing game. This is the Lions projected starting defensive backfield:

  • Slot: Chris Board
  • LCB: Will Harris
  • SS: Kerby Joseph
  • FS: DeShon Elliott
  • RCB: Jeff Okudah (Update: Okudah is out)

Okudah has had a reasonably successful run this year and probably shouldn’t be considered a bust, but even he’s doubtful for the game. Of those 5 names, only Harris has created negative EPA against the pass.

Detroit also uses man coverage at the 6th highest rate (35%). Allen has a passer rating of 139.2 when targeting Diggs in man (PFF).

The Bills should be able to pass as they wish against this secondary. There may be a handful of times where a player like Aiden Hutchinson on DET’s DL can disrupt a play, but there is little reason to suspect the Lions’ defensive backfield can compete with the Bills’ skill talent.

For a thorough breakdown, check out Uber Hansen’s Game Matchups Preview.

Injury Report

As always, remember to check the inactives before game time.


Last updated: 11/24 6:30am

Josh Allen Rush Yards

o u
BET US 42.5 -130 +100
CSR 41.5 -115 -119
DK 41.5 -115 -115
FD 43.5 -110 -110
MGM 41.5 -115 -115

Against the Browns, Allen slammed on the brakes of his running and had all of seven yards rushing. That result was partially due to how bad Cleveland is defending RBs, and Motor Singletary and James Cook went off. This week is a different story and last week’s rushing yardage by Allen is good news. Those seven yards have driven his rush yards prop down for this week. Allen’s rush yards props have been hovering around 48 or more for weeks. One week off from being the Bills leading rusher and the line plummets.

Prowl is way too aggressive a word for the Lions when facing QBs who can run. On QB runs, without kneel downs or sneaks, Detroit gives up (SIS)

  • most rush yards/gm (47.4)
  • 3rd most Y/A (8.9)
  • 2nd highest TD% (10.4)
  • 4th most Broken or Missed Tackles (24.6%)
  • 2nd most EPA/A (0.74)

The game script talked about the Lions’ man and blitz rates. Those defensive play calls increase the number of quarterback runs. Blitzing encourages scrambling. Man-to-man coverage, where DBs often have their backs turned to the QB and can’t see the late scramble, is easier for QBs to run against if the pass is not available.

On those same types of runs as above, Allen has these stats:

  • 3rd in Y/G (47.2)
  • 2nd in Y/A (more than 5 att) (9.3)
  • 2nd in Broken Tackle Rate (more than 5 att) (43.1%)
  • 3rd in EPA/A (more than 5 att) (0.72). First and second in this metric are Rodgers and Carr, who have 8 and 7 attempts, respectively, to Allen’s 51.

Allen has not stopped running because of the elbow – the Vikings’ game told us that. He didn’t run against Cleveland because the opponent’s weakness led another way.

Recommendation: o42.5 anywhere with -115, 0.5

Diggs Receptions Total

o u
BET US 6.5 -155 +125
CSR 7.5 +106 -145
DK 7.5 +105 -140
FD 6.5 -146 +114
MGM 7.5 +110 -145

All of those passing stats versus 11 personnel from the game script come home to rest right here. Plus, Allen knows Diggs was frustrated last week, and Josh takes care of his BFF. That’s it. Do you really need more?

OK. One more. That 6th highest 33% blitz rate from the Lions? Diggs has 28 targets when the Bills face 5 or more rushers. The next highest on the team is Gabe Davis with 15.

Recommendation: o6.5 at FD, 0.5u.

Update 11/24 6:30 am: The line was 6.5 everywhere yesterday. The plus money on 7.5 makes me want to change the rec, but Vegas doesn’t move lines in our favor. Diggs has 5 games this year with 8+ catches. I’m sticking with 6.5 as the rec, but I’ll take 7.5 at MGM with 0.25u to grab the plus. If he hits 8, we’re rolling. If he gets 7 but not 8, we’re even. If doesn’t reach 7, we were sunk anyhow.

(Just FYI, BetUS has Diggs’ Anytime TD at -125 compared to DK, which is at -165. If you’re so inclined, plus the whole 125% deposit bonus thing is wicked cool.)

Gabe Davis Longest Reception

o u
BET US 23.5 -120 -110
CSR 23.5 -117 -117
DK 23.5 -115 -115
FD 22.5 -114 -114
MGM 23.5 -120 -110

Davis averages 21.1 Y/C. The Detroit secondary is injured and not very good. The boys from the Motor City also blitz a bunch. When there are 5+ pass rushers, Davis averages 22.6 Y/C.

Recommendation: o22.5 at FD, 0.5u


The Bills should win, but the Lions are a feisty bunch. Dan Campbell is not a good in-game manager, but he does get his players fired up, I’ll give him that. Six of their games have been within one score, so don’t get overly concerned if it feels like the Bills can’t shake a team they dwarf talent-wise, especially on a weird, short week in a game situation where the Lions as an organization have significant experience. I’d take the over 54.5 and DET +9.5 – even if it’s backdoor, a cover is a cover. Those who were listening when I said to take CLE +9.5 know. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Tail ’em or fade ’em, let me see those winnings on Twitter @LowBuffa

Record: 20-10, +5u

You can find Chris on Twitter (@lowbuffa), getting dirty in #MafiaGardens, or watching football. Go Bills!