Ah, Thanksgiving. That time where friends and family all get together and act like the whole situation isn’t a delicately balanced powder keg sitting three stories above a tire fire. To stave off insanity, we plop in front of the television and mindlessly watch the NFL Thanksgiving Day games. You might find yourself desperately trying to steer the conversation back to the game when they mention something on the broadcast that sets off your relatives. If you’re wondering how to sound smart at football, here’s a breakdown of the 09:30 AM Pacific game. With all luck, people will be too busy stuffing their maws to worry about the second game. Then, hopefully, everyone will be drunk or asleep by the time the third game rolls around. If that’s not the case, you can check out our Bills-Cowboys and Saints-Falcons primers.
NFL Thanksgiving Day 09:30 AM (PST):
Chicago Bears (5-6) at Detroit Lions (3-7-1)
- The rivalry started in 1930, when the Lions were the Portsmouth Spartans
- The Bears lead the series 100-74-5
- The Lions are the only franchise to lose 100 games to 2 other franchises (the Bears & Packers).
- The Lions are usually hot garbage, and the Bears are sometimes good. Both have been relegated to little brothers of the Packers, who have ground them both under their boot for like five decades.
Rivalry-defining moment: Lions Wide Receiver Chuck Hughes had a heart attack and died on the field in 1971.
THE CHICAGO BEARS
This season was supposed to be a breakout offensive campaign for the Bears, but instead, it’s been a lesson in offensive futility. Head Coach Matt Nagy is supposed to be an offensive guru, but third-year QB Mitchell Trubisky has not taken the steps forward that many have hoped. Khalil Mack leads a strong defense that keeps the Bears competitive.
Who to Know:
Mitchell Trubisky, Quarterback:
The Bears traded the 49ers multiple picks to move up to the #2 pick from the #3 pick in the 2017 draft to take “Troobs.” They did this with two of the best young QBs in the NFL (Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson) still on the board. He’s not come close to living up to expectations and is a big reason why the Bears are underperforming this year.
What to Say: “Trubisky can’t even throw left and you think the Bears can build an offense around him?!”
Khalil Mack, Outside Linebacker:
Easily the best player on the Bears. The Bears traded the Raiders two first-round draft picks, a 2019 sixth-round pick, and a 2020 third-round pick for the rights to make Mack the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history.
What to Say: “Highest-paid defensive player in history and he’s not even top-ten in sacks since joining the Bears?”
David Montgomery, Running Back:
Considered by some to be the best running back in the 2019 rookie class, David Montgomery has been criminally underused in his first year in Chicago. A few weeks ago, the Bears head coach (Matt Nagy) had to declare that he was “not an idiot” and finally decided to give Montgomery the dang ball. Not that it’s mattered, as the Bears have gone full run mode with no success. Since they committed to giving Montgomery the ball, they’ve gone 2-3 and Montgomery has a 3.39 yard per carry average (4.0 is above-average).
What to Say: “Matt Nagy says he is not an idiot… But… ya know…”
THE DETROIT LIONS
The Lions are an enigma under former Patriots defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia. They want to establish the run and play great defense, but they’re not really great at either. The Lions are a testament to the power of injuries. Their starting quarterback, Matthew Stafford, has a back fracture and is unlikely to play on Thanksgiving. Their best running back, Kerryon Johnson, is on injured reserve with a knee injury. The Lions are circling the drain, having lost four in a row and seven-of-eight.
Who to Know:
Jeff Driskel, (backup) Quarterback
Jeff Driskel is one of multiple quarterbacks to literally back up Colin Kaepernick to have jobs while Kap sits at home. Go ahead, bring that up with your staunchly conservative uncles. At least you won’t have to talk to them anymore. He’s not very good, but he’s keeping the Lions (somewhat) competitive in Matt Stafford’s absence. He can run around a bit, which Stafford can’t really do. He can’t do much of the rest of what a QB can do, unfortunately.
[UPDATE: Something called a David Blough is starting because Jeff Driskel literally can’t play. Unfortunately, David Blough metaphorically can’t play, either.]
What to Say: “Did you know that Jeff Driskel was a third-string quarterback with the Niners when Colin Kaepernick played?” Actually… probably don’t do that.
Damon “Snacks” Harrison, Defensive Tackle
“Snacks” has the best nickname in the NFL, and given that the Bears are not idiots, you’ll likely hear his name a lot. He’s one of the league’s best run stoppers. There’s not much to add here, but he has a sweet nickname, so he needed to be included.
What to Say: “You know, Nagy should probably be running it outside with Montgomery to neutralize Snacks in the run game.”
Kenny Golladay & Marvin Jones Jr., Wide Receivers
Golladay and Jones are the only players really keeping the Lions offense functional. They’re two of the best deep shot duos in the league. That works great when your QB is strong-armed like Matthew Stafford. When it’s Jeff Driskel, not so much. Golladay is a third-year wide receiver who is breaking out, and Marvin Jones has been around the block. Both these guys are likely to make huge catches for the Lions. If you see a blue jersey make a big catch from across the room, ask, “was that Golladay or Jones?” If they say it was Danny Amendola, know that your family is lying to you.
What to Say: “Golladay gets the flashy catches, but for my money, give me Marvin Jones in the red zone, any day.”
If all this fails, just remember the old NFL Thanksgiving Day game standbys:
“Man, they just have to let them play out there!”
“How is that not holding?”
“That hasn’t been pass interference all game, why are they calling it now?”
“Establish that run, baby! (include loud obnoxious clapping)”
“You know, this is four-down territory. You need to go for it here!”
Or read off some of our Thanksgiving-themed fantasy football team names…
Or the most time-honored NFL Thanksgiving Day game tradition: just going to sleep instead of engaging with your relatives.
(Header Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/03/Trubisky_detroit_camrongood_2017.jpg)