Thanksgiving football thoughts: Lions, don’t be a turkey

I have started writing about sports on the regular, and while I enjoy doing it I also realize that I suck at it and would never make bets based on any of my opinions. After all, I thought the New York Mets were going to win 162 games this season and bring a World Series back to Queens. What a fool am I. What a charlatan. Regardless, let’s go Mets baby, love da Mets.

Still, I like looking at sports and sports-related data, so that’s why I’ve decided to take a look at the three football matchups happening this Thanksgiving and give some input about them. Maybe your uncle will have the same thoughts. Maybe he wants to join my Goofy Uncles club. (I don’t have a Goofy Uncles club, and for good reason: That sounds like a red flag for a lot of reasons. If your uncle would be interested in joining a Goofy Uncles club, run away!)

Bears vs. Lions

Lord in heaven, whatever mercy you may bestow upon your children, bestow it heartily upon the Detroit Lions. The team’s seven games away from notching their second winless season in franchise history, and in less than fifteen years to boot. Jared Goff is still listed as questionable. Team morale looks low. But they may find some hope in their 12:30 game against the Chicago Bears, who have run into their own divine misfortune as of late. They’ve lost their last five games, Justin Fields is injured leaving rookie Andy Dalton to take up the charge, and they let Detroit win the last time the two teams faced off, which was back on December 6, 2020. Coincidentally, that was the last game the Lions won; they haven’t had a victory since, as you can tell from their current record and their December losing streak last year.

Plus, the future of Chicago coach Matt Nagy’s career doesn’t look good, although he says rumors that he’ll get axed after Thanksgiving due to the Bears’ string of losses is inaccurate. Can Nagy save his ass with a Bears win? Or will the Lions break their losing streak against the last team they defeated?

I’ll give the Lions credit; they’re giving Dan Campbell a lot of second chances to prove himself as a first-year coach. The Bears are ready to fire Nagy after five losses in a row, but it seems like it’ll take more than ten for Detroit to start reconsidering the Campbell experiment. Hell, the Giants fired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett after going 2-5 and winning solidly against the Raiders and Panthers. The Lions, like the city of Detroit, have the resolve of saints. (Speaking of Saints: We’ll get to them farther down in this post.)

Raiders vs. Cowboys

Cowboys don’t have much to lose in this 4:30 matchup against the Raiders, and the Raiders have little to gain. Dallas sits pretty right now with the only winning record in the NFC East at 7-3, and Las Vegas has to overcome their 5-5 stalemate in the AFC West. The latter can hope to tie the Chargers, but it’s still a long road to the Wild Card berth from there.

The Cowboys do outperform the Raiders in almost every category except total passing yards, but even that’s just by a hair. The Raiders might have Amari Cooper’s positive COVID result working in their favor, but right now Dak Prescott has been dealing for the Cowboys, so he may be able to lead a strong campaign against Las Vegas despite the team’s current injuries.

Despite the Cowboys’ strengths though, they’ve gone 1-3 in November, losing to the Chiefs and Broncos and only being able to dominate against the struggling Falcons. But the Raiders have lost all of their games so far this month, taking Ls to the Chiefs but also teams with no chance in hell of making the playoffs like the Bengals and Giants.

So basically, you’re looking at either the Cowboys extending their dominance over the division and the Raiders’ hopes of February football slipping further, or the Raiders acting as a spoiler for the playoff-bound Cowboys. I doubt the latter will happen, but watch this be the week that Derek Carr decides to go off.

Bills vs. Saints

Last week the Bills lost to the Colts and let the Mac Jones Truck run wild as the New England Patriots took control of the AFC East. But even though the Tennessee Titans took a surprise loss to the Houston Texans (giving the Texans their second win of the season), they look poised enough to pose a challenge against the Patriots. Therefore the Bills have to win this one in order to have any hope of reclaiming their divisional throne.

But the Bills can’t seem to win games that matter lately. They took losses to the Titans and the Colts in their last five games, but claimed victories against the dead-in-the-water Jets and Dolphins. Their most egregious defeat came at the slippery paws of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who eked out a 6-9 win in a comedy of a football game that will go down as one of the worst-played duels this season.

On the other hand, the Saints have had their own struggles this month, losing three straight to the Falcons, Titans, and Eagles in that order. But before that skid, New Orleans won against the Seahawks and Buccaneers, and the latter team has a strong hold over the NFC South and the league as a whole. Most of the Saints’ issues stem from their many men on the injured list: Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram III are both questionable for Thursday’s 8:20 game against the Bills, and a few other players have hit the injured reserve list including tight end Adam Trautman.

This Saints team is sitting at 5-5 and could use a win, if only to get about .500 and keep the distance between them and the Bucs from growing wider. They’ve won their last five games against the Bills dating back to 2001, and those Saints varied between 3-13 duds and Super Bowl winners. So perhaps the Bills can use the Saints’ current weaknesses to their advantage, but the latter still has much more power historically over a Bills team that’s looking at a potential late-season slump. This seems like an even matchup to me; if you haven’t fallen asleep in a turkey haze yet, you might want to watch this one. (As a Pats fan by association I will be rooting for the Saints here. Come at me, Bills Nation. I’m from Syracuse which is a superior city in Upstate New York!)

Final thoughts

I enjoy few things about Thanksgiving, a holiday which I again repeat has its roots in colonialism and genocide. I like a sweet potato pie. I like the parade if only to rip jokes about it on Twitter. I love the dog show, because even though dog breeding is cruel and has led to health issues among certain breeds, who doesn’t love rooting for the borzoi with its long stupid little nose and its face that makes it look like a little Russian lady?

But I love the football. Sometimes you’re just so full of pie and hot toddies and sick of arguing with your cousin about why vaccines are good that all you want to do is plop down on the couch, throw on the game, and watch dudes slam into each other on a day traditionally observed as one of peace and kindness towards others. It’s because we know what this holiday is really about. Its traditions sit on a bedrock of war.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, everyone; I had a pastrami sandwich earlier this afternoon in observation of Sandwich Night. I still claim that my holiday whips more ass.

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