There are Thanksgiving traditions out there that for everyone that observe it are indelible images of the holiday. Of course, the Turkey feast is easily the most iconic. You and several friends or family members gathered around a table with a bountiful spread taking time to give thanks for all that you achieved and survived during the year in a scene that, if all goes well, looks like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. No seriously. . . it’s RIGHT out of a painting.
Though I will grant it doesn’t really capture the alcohol consumption and family bickering, but some details are best left out like a number of horrible NFL teams currently vying for playoff relevance.
But once the meal is over, the rest of the day’s tradition continues. The post-feast comatose viewing of football. So as we dive into Week Twelve, here’s a Happy Thanksgiving wish to all of you reading The Student of the Game’s Match-Up Mania. May your celebration look more like a Rockwell painting and less like the 49ers season.
Vikings v. Falcons
With the Vikings having played the Packers, they’ve faced pressure of the “hype game”. While they felt short of taking command of the NFC North losing to Green Bay, they now face an anomaly as an up and coming team that no one’s associated with the Minnesota franchise since Brett Favre was the QB back in 2009. . . the trap game.
The Atlanta Falcons are now a three-point squeaker over the Tennessee Titans away from dropping five straight games. And it ain’t from falling in heartbreakers to powerhouses, either. The undistinguished list of victors over the “Dirty Birds” are the Niners, Colts, Bucs, and Saints. All teams at or below .500. Which means from the purple team’s perspective:
That’s why I queue up the Star Wars movies’ immortal icon of surviving traps, Admiral Akbar for a second time. The Vikings represent one of two teams remaining on Atlanta’s schedule that currently have a winning record. (The other being the Carolina Panthers who they still have left on the schedule twice.) In short, if I have the choice between an amped up Julio Jones catching passes from Matt Ryan setting up Davonta Freeman on the ground in an effort to make a statement that the Falcons aren’t fraudulent or Mike Wallace running another go route decoy where he likely won’t get the ball from Teddy Bridgewater as he hands the rock to Adrian Peterson attempting to hit another “home run” 60+-yard touchdown run, I’m forced to say there’s room for error in the later option.
That being said, at some point, Atlanta will have to play defense. I have no reason to believe they’ll do enough to silence AP, Kyle Rudolph, or Stefon Diggs for 60 minutes of football.
Giants v. Redskins
We’re doing this again. . .? The unpredictable vs. the inconsistent. And I honestly don’t know which team is which. . . that is the boggle in question here. I believe the team that wins this game will earn this very extra special jacket to signify they are the enigma that will likely win the division.
If the Giants hope to win, they need to act less like the Riddler and more like Batman. Able to swing in and be the hero of Gotham. I’ll grant, not exactly the metaphor that pops into mind for Eli Manning, but I think the point still valid. As for Kirk Cousins, he’s won some games and even been given to opportunity to shout “You Like That!” into a camera in a moment of unjustified trash talk not realized since former Eagles backup quarterback, Vince Young proclaimed the Eagles a dream team in 2011.
In short, this game will help determine who the top of the mountain is in the NFC East should the Cowboys fail to go from 2-7 to division champion. If you want a prediction, I flipped a coin and shouted Eli while it was in the air, so I’m picking the Giants. It worked for Two-Face in deciding to team up with the Riddler in the Batman Forever movie, right?
Bear v. Packers
So I know I’ve said publicly that the Turkey Day games aren’t ones that thoroughly move me as a football fan. But then I started to think about this pairing. For one, it is the NFL’s oldest rivalry. This is stuff that goes back to the Chicago Bears were the Decatur Staleys. This Thanksgiving match-up is on the eve of the 94th anniversary of these franchises’ first football fray.
While I don’t necessarily see the Staleys/Bears pulling out a 21-0 domination of the Packers as in that inaugural contest, their winning isn’t as a great of a long shot as one might think. Sure, quarterback Jay Cutler and the Bears don’t exactly inspire confidence. They just found themselves between a “Brock” and a hard place loosing the Broncos who benched Peyton Manning and started Brock Osweiler for the first time in his four year career.
But the Pack did suffer a three game losing skid that included that Lions . . . one of 3 teams in the conference with a worse record than the Bears 4-6. And Green Bay just played a tough game against the Minnesota Vikings and now they play the Bears in a short week.
But then I remember both Matt Forte’ and Alshon Jeffery are both out and that as long as Eddie Lacy is healthy, the Bears will be helpless against a balanced offense. However, should Chicago win the day, they would have completed their “feat of strength” a month early for the Festivus holiday made famous by the Costanza family.
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