It's turkey. It's football. It's Thursday. It's parades and having to deal with inlaws that you can't stand and would rather be stuck in a room with nuns than deal with. It's the NFL and the boys and girls at the league office has given us not one, not two but three (yep, three!) helpings of football Thursday. You might want to eat between games or better yet, eat during the games.
As you're chomping down on that last bit of egg nog cheesecake from your Aunt Cathy and as your uncle Jim belches the Swedish National Anthem after one too many servings of dressing and your sister's three bratty kids are cringing because there's Brussels sprouts on their plates, kick back and watch some football. Just be sure to wear your stretchy pants, no picking your teeth at the table and clean those plates.
Green Bay (10-0) at Detroit (7-3), 12:30 p.m. (FOX) It's a Thanksgiving tradition as the Detroit Lions take on the first-place defending champions Green Bay Packers. It's an old-fashioned NFC North battle between two teams that aren't crazy about each other. It's sort of like sitting at the kids' table with your fat cousin and she has a crush on you (EWWWWWWWWWWWWW!) The Packers played their first Turkey Day game in 1923 when they beat Hammond 19-0 (Wonder what the over/under on that game was) while Detroit's first game on Thanksgiving was in 1925 but they weren't called the Lions back then. They were known as the Detroit Panthers, who lost to Rock Island 9-6.
The Lions made their debut on the Thanksgiving stage in 1934, when they lost to the Chicago Bears. Their first win as the Lions came in 1935, when they took down the Bears 14-2. The Lions would play three more times from 1936-39 and then didn't see the football field again on Thanksgiving until 1945, losing to the Cleveland Rams (yes, they were in Cleveland before they went west and then came back to the Midwest) and they've been playing on Turkey Day ever since.
The last time Green Bay and Detroit played on Thanksgiving Day was in 2009, when the Packers took Detroit to the woodshed 34-12. The Green Bay-Detroit game will mark the 20th Thanksgiving Day meeting between these two clubs – the most matchups in NFL history between any two teams on the holiday and the defending Super Bowl champs will also be the first undefeated team to play on Thanksgiving since the 1962 Packers. Green Bay’s lone loss that season was to (ironically) the Lions on Thanksgiving Day as the Packers went on to finish 13-1 and win the NFL Championship.
“I love playing on Thanksgiving,” says Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy. “I think the players really like it too. It’s an honor to play on the holiday.”As far as the series between the two teams goes, the Packers hold a Packers 89-65-7 lead and have outscored the Cats in Honolulu Blue 3,386-2,889. The two teams split last year's meetings with each winning in their home parks. Prior to the 2010 split, Green Bay had won ten in a row over Detroit. Both teams had short weeks last week and both teams are coming off huge wins at home. Green Bay held off a late Tampa Bay rally at Lambeau and managed to fend off the Bucs 35-26. Aaron Rodgers had a decent day against Tampa Bay, going 23 for 34 with three touchdowns in the contest. The Lions, who have been surging of late, rallied to take down Cam Newton and Carolina, outscoring the Panthers 35-8 in the final 30 minutes of play.
The Packers are a 6 point favorite and the over/under for game one of Turkey Day is 55 1/2. Personally, I think that given how good these teams are, one being the defending Super Bowl champs and the other being pretty good after so many years of being so lousy they'll easily pass that number by halftime... then again, that's why they play the game, as Chris Berman says. The Packers control their own destiny and play three of their next five games at home, while the Lions, who could make the playoffs for the first time since the Clinton administration play two of their next five at home and three of the next five indoors.
It'll be close and since you have all that food to eat during the day, there's really no need to head to the deli (unless you just want some Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Moose Tracks Ice Cream for dessert instead of your Aunt Grace's fruitcake, that's been around since Jesus raised Lazarus... no wonder Uncle Larry left her for that Vegas showgirl!). Lions make it entertaining but Packers remain unbeaten and cover the six.
Miami (3-7) at Dallas (6-4), 4:30 p.m. (CBS) Game two of the Turkey Day offering features the Miami Dolphins, who were all but given up for dead and the Dallas Cowboys. While the Cowboys' Thanksgiving history isn't nearly as big as Detroit's, it is by no means boring. Think of Detroit as the dark meat and Dallas as the white meat. Dallas' first game was not as the Cowboys and there was no Roger Staubach then.
The Dallas Texans (who later moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs) played their first game in 1960, losing to the New York Titans (later the New York Jets) 41-35 in the old AFL. Dallas didn't see another Thanskgiving Day until 1966, when they beat Cleveland 26-14 in the Cotton Bowl. Dallas' last win on Thanksgiving came two years ago in 2009 when they beat Oakland 24-7. Everyone remembers the bad season that they had last year when they blew a lead against New Orleans and fell to the Saints 30-27.
These two teams have met before on Thanksgiving, in case you're wondering and Miami came away with a 40-21 decision in 2003. Miami leads the overall series 7-4 but Dallas leads in points by a slim margin of 221-215. Six points. A touchdown without the PAT, two field goals, three safties. Again, two more teams with short weeks, coming off wins. The Dolphins took a 28-6 lead at home against a slumping Buffalo team and never let their foot (or fins) off the gas in South Beach last weekend. In that contest, Miami held Buffalo to 41 yards on the ground and were 5 of 12 on third down conversions while shutting out the Bills in that catagory. Buffalo was 0 for 12 on third down conversions and 0 for 2 on fourth downs.
Dallas had a much harder time last week against their rivals Washington in Landover last Sunday as they needed some luck to take a three-point win in overtime. The Cowboys could have lost the game in the extra period had Graham Gano's 52-yard field try not hit the crossbar after they tied things up in regulation. Dallas, who was held to 89 yards rushing in the win, then kicked their game winner in overtime to sweep the season series. The Cowboys are favored by 7 with a 44 over/under. It's not the main course but it's a lot better than that fruitcake I talked about earlier. (That stuff'll kill Bin Laden!) Dallas plays two of their next five games at home while the 'Fins play three of their next five on South Beach. The Dolphins are getting better of late but the streak ends in the Lone Star State. Dallas wins and covers the seven.
San Francisco (9-1) at Baltimore (7-3), 8:20 p.m. (NFL Network) It's the battle of the Habaugh Brothers. No, they're not fighting over the last piece of apple pie. John vs. Jim. Wonder which one Mom likes best (apologies to the Smothers Brothers!). The 49ers, who lead the NFC West (or as some are calling it the Mild, Mild West) travel back to the Eastern time zone for the third and final time this season, looking for their third win in that time zone against a Ravens team that has been hot and cold at times but are still in contention for the AFC Central.
Believe it or not, this is the first time that either team has played on Thanksgiving and it's the first time that brothers have coached against each other, so this could be interesting. These two teams are coming off short weeks and wins at home. Baltimore needed some major luck against a pretty decent Cincinnati team last Sunday in Charm City as the Ravens played without Ray Lewis. Baltimore managed to pick off Andrew Dalton three times in the win over the Bengals and gave the rookie signal caller from Texas Christian his
lowest passer rating as a pro at 60.7. San Francisco, who could very well be the second seed in the postseason, held the Desert Angry Birds (Arizona) to a late fourth quarter touchdown and 80 yards rushing. Frank Gore rushed for 88 yards in the contest before exiting with an injury. This is only the fourth meeting between Baltimore and San Francisco and the Ravens lead the series 2-1 and have outscored the 49ers 73-51. San Francisco won the first meeting in 1996, 38-20 in San Francisco, with the Ravens taking wins in 2003 in Baltimore 44-6 and again in 2007 in San Francisco 9-7. The storyline alone makes this game intersting.
I know... the Texas A&M/Texas game will be on at the same time and so will that Lady Gaga special. Tape them. Trust me. You don't want to miss this one. The Ravens are favored by 3 with a 39 over/under. With all that leftover food, who needs to call out for pizza? I think that there'll be a feast at the Harbaugh's after the game and who knows... they might even serve roast beast (okay, I know it's a cheesy "Grinch" reference.) San Francisco's good but I think their luck will run out in the Eastern Time Zone after beating Philly and Washington this season. Baltimore wins and covers the three points.