You still don't like football? Or maybe you kind of like the idea of liking football, but there aren't enough hours in the day and it's low on your priority list? That's cool. But this Thanksgiving in households around America, football WILL be on. Wouldn't you like to know enough to participate in family conversations? I mean, otherwise, they'll probably start prying into your personal life - wouldn't it be MORE fun to redirect the conversation toward the personal lives of Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers?
Well, you've come to the right place! Here is the DEFINITIVE 2011 NFL THANKSGIVING CHEATSHEET, your one-stop source for easy talking points so you can spend your Thanksgiving holiday in peace... and maybe even accidentally enjoy yourself in the process.
GAME ONE - NOV 24 12:30EST - FOX
GREEN BAY PACKERS v. DETROIT LIONS
Topic of Discussion: The defending Super Bowl Champion Packers look even better than they did last year; they are the only undefeated team left in the league.
Correct Response: If you were at MY family's Thanksgiving, you'd make some remark laced with dark humor about how the Indianapolis Colts are the only team in the league who has not yet WON a game this season. Then we'd all exchange knowing glances because it's all part of the plan.
Topic of Discussion: Is Aaron Rodgers the best quarterback in the league?
Correct Answer: He must be, if he can get away with the Championship Belt Touchdown Celebration. When he first did it, we all feared it would be his undoing because QBs are supposed to be infinitely cool, you know? But now, if he stopped, we'd all be sad. The goofiness is part of dear Aaron's charm. Never change, Aaron. Hang on to your inner goof.
Topic of Discussion: Detroit Lions play every Thanksgiving - isn't it nice that they're actually kind of good this year?
Correct Answer 1: Yeah, maybe they'd be kinda good every year If-Matthew-Stafford-Stays-Healthy.
Correct Answer 2: Yeah, they should have started playing dirty a long time ago. Did you see when Matthew Stafford almost ripped that guy's head off? Or when the Lions' Coach tried to fight the 49ers' Coach after the game (sorry, can't find video)?
Correct Answer 3: Just shout "MEGATRON!" every time Calvin Johnson catches a pass. I don't care how good Green Bay's defense is, CJ will catch something.
GAME 2 - NOV 24 4:15EST - CBS
MIAMI DOLPHINS v. DALLAS COWBOYS
Topic of Discussion: Yikes... the early game should be a lot more entertaining than this one.
Correct Response 1: Miami may be friskier than their record shows. I mean, I don't think so, but Sports Guy does (Quoth the SportsGuy: "I’d take the Jags and Dolphins right now over every other mediocre-or-worse team. Vegas isn’t totally believing in their overpowering notsobadness yet. I believe."). They had the chance to Suck for Luck and didn't take it. So...
Correct Response 2: The Cowboys are awesome at collapsing when they shouldn't. ANYTHING could happen!
Correct Response 3: Did you know that Tony Romo just married into the GOSSIP GIRL family? And that earlier this season he played with a PUNCTURED LUNG!? That's almost as good as Chris Simms' ruptured spleen! (Note: Wait until after eating for this discussion.)
Topic of Discussion: Miami needs a new coach and a new quarterback.
Correct Response 1: Why aren't they Sucking for Luck? WHY!?!?
Correct Response 2: Sports Guy muses that there may be a "Curse of Dan Marino" brewing. This is the only logical conclusion. In other news, I'm growing increasingly curious about this Case Keenum person. I haven't paid this much attention to college football probably ever.
GAME 3 - NOV 24 8:20EST - NFL NETWORK
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers v. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Response 1: Awww, the coaches of those two teams are brothers! Thanksgiving is a holiday for family togetherness!
Response 2: Awww, the brother who's in his first year of coaching has a better record than the brother who has been coaching for a long time! Awww!
Response 3: You know, this could be the best game of the day. I'm sure the 17 people who get the NFL Network will really enjoy it!
OTHER SUGGESTED TOPICS OF CONVERSATION IN CASE YOU GET DESPERATE
(Note: The following is a list of topics you can throw out and then watch everyone else debate/discuss whilst you enjoy a cocktail or hot cup of java. It is my gift to you this holiday season, and you're welcome.)
Topic 1: What do you make of this Tebow thing?
Note: This may take the rest of the day. That's why I suggest using it first.
As for me, I still love me some Kyle Orton. But, I watched the end of the Broncos/Jets game last Thursday. There's only one way to describe what happened: Everyone knew what was going to happen, and they simultaneously knew that it was impossible. It takes awhile for those two things to reconcile in a feeble human mind. Accept the power of the Tebow can't be explained and just enjoy the ride. Oh, and only watch the end, it's more fun that way.
Topic 2: The so-called "Dream Team" Eagles have only won about one-third of their games.
Note: This may be a touchy subject. Michael Vick's time in prison on charges related to dog fighting will probably light at least one fire in any household. But, by Thanksgiving weekend, he may be benched due to injury in favor of Vince Young... and that's an entirely different train wreck.
Topic 3: Did you guys see how Manchester City destroyed Manchester United a few weeks ago? That was hilarious, NO ONE saw it coming, right!?
Note: Enjoy the blank stares and silence as people try to figure out what language you're speaking.
TEAMS SURPASSING EXPECTATIONS NFC:
* 49ers, 49ers, 49ers. Yay Coach Harbaugh, my beloved Captain Comeback!
* Bears. I'm dreaming of another Bears/Packers playoff game. I'll include that in my letter to Santa next week.
* Giants. Someone's gotta carry on the Manning name, and I'm solidly in Eli's corner.
* Lions. They've been backsliding and got exploded by the Bears last week, but that doesn't change the fact that they're in playoff contention on Thanksgiving weekend for the first time since Lewis and Clark went in search of the North-West passage. And by the way, for those of you who like curses and conspiracies - read this and then wonder if the Lions may be in the process of finally exorcising their demons. We could be witnessing history, like the 2004 Red Sox.
* Carolina may not be surpassing expectations, but rookie quarterback Cam Newton is. I apologize for that cookie remark I made in my preseason cheatsheet. My husband has started Cam in every fantasy game this season and has only lost once. Testify.
TEAMS SURPASSING EXPECTATIONS AFC:
* I was going to say Buffalo, but they seem to be saying, "Move along, nothing more to see here." Too bad, I like being reminded that their quarterback has a degree in economics from Harvard.
* I was going to say the Houston Texans because they were simultaneously expected to thrive and self-destruct (per usual). Now their quarterback is out for the season with a broken foot, but they're in a quagmire of a division (with Colts, Tennessee, and Jacksonville), and anything could happen. Mostly, there is evidence of yet another curse. In case you couldn't tell, I've been researching these things lately.
* Bengals. Bengals Bengals Bengals. Andy Dalton, rookie QB who has hair the same color orange as his helmet. Congrats, Cincy, the Bengals are suckering people in with a young and likable team. Whenever anyone calls Dalton the 'Red Rifle' I think of Ralphie from A Christmas Story.
* Denver Broncos and the Tebow experiment. With Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers once again underachieving, there is a playoff spot up for grabs. I'm going to include a Tebow playoff game in my wish-list to Santa, too.
May I remind you once again that the Superbowl is Feb 5, 2012 in my beloved Indianapolis? I'm asking haters to keep an open mind about this. I wanna go.
Most likely Superbowl Contenders NFC:
* Packers (Again.)
* Saints (Looking a bit weak, but I love the idea of Drew Brees coming back to Purdue territory.)
* Giants (Eli Manning = The Official Little Brother of the Indianapolis Colts.)
* Bears (Jay Cutler is from Indiana, Chicago is an easy drive away, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels would enjoy taking in more Illinois $$.)
* 49ers (Wildcard, would be an amazing Cinderella story, and would bring Coach Harbaugh back. Many a fan in Indianapolis would turn out in support because he was our guy, just prior to Peyton Manning.)
Most likely Superbowl Contenders AFC:
* Patriots (Ugh, seeing Tom Brady hoist the trophy amidst the confetti on Indianapolis turf would probably stop me from eating for at least 10 days. Even if there's fudge.)
* Steelers (Meh.)
* Ravens (This would be kind of interesting because Indianapolis "stole" the Colts from Baltimore, at least in the eyes of Baltimore fans. I was three years old, so I reserve judgement and embrace the blue. Either way, those Baltimore fans with long memories would probably get a deep sense of satisfaction from winning in Indy. And maybe then everyone could let it go? No? Okay.)
Long story short... looks like I'm rooting for the NFC this year.