Thanksgiving News and Notes

I’m taking a brief hiatus for the rest of this week to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. But not to worry; I won’t leave you high and dry! Here are a few helpful things to know during this year’s family, food, and football fest.

Thanksgiving Games

Game 1: Packers at Lions, 12:30pm

What you need to know:

The Packers are playing without their starting quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, for the fourth (practically fifth, considering he was injured early in the Bears game) game in a row. The franchise that had started three quarterbacks in the past two decades (Favre, Rodgers, and Flynn) has now started four quarterbacks in the past five games (Rodgers, Wallace, Tolzien, and Flynn). Luckily, Packers offensive guard Josh Sitton has seen fit to add fuel to the fire for a Detroit team that has plenty of angst as it is. So that’s good.

I foresee my turkey coming with a side of tears tomorrow.

In all seriousness, this is a huge NFC North matchup. The Lions were unexpectedly dismantled by the Bucs last Sunday and beaten by Pittsburgh the Sunday before. They are tied with the similarly sliding Bears for the lead in the NFC North and need this division win to gain control of the NFC North. Green Bay, despite the loss of Aaron Rodgers and the 3-game losing streak, is only one game behind in the standings, so this win is critical (critical!) to their playoff hopes.

Game 2: Raiders at Cowboys, 4:30pm

What you need to know:

Oakland will also be playing without their starting quarterback, although in this case the backup, Matt McGloin, is playing well enough to usurp the starter and keep this position for the rest of the season.

It will be a tall order for him and the rest of the Raiders to upset the Cowboys, however, who are coming off of a big divisional win against the Giants and are used to playing these Thanksgiving Day games. But on the flip side, this is by no means a sure win for Dallas. Their defense has been less-than-stellar lately. If the Raiders offense can take advantage, we just might have a game on our hands.

Game 3: Steelers at Ravens, 8:30pm

What you need to know:

This AFC North matchup looked a whole lot prettier when the schedule was originally released before the season started. Now we know that the defending Super Bowl Champion Ravens are 5-6 and third in the division…as are the Steelers, who, after a woeful start, are on a 3-game win streak and have moved up to second in the division by merit of their in-division record.

Which means that this game has huge playoff implications in the AFC North – and, really, in the AFC in general, since a good percentage of the conference has decided that it’s cool to be 5-6. They are all in a massive fight for the last wildcard spot. In the AFC North in particular, the division leading Bengals aren’t that far ahead at 7-4. Should they falter and the Steelers keep winning or the Ravens rebound, this game could go a long way in deciding who takes first place in the division.

Helpful Hints

Need to brush up on your football knowledge before kickoff on Thursday? Read these posts in between turkey basting and pie baking:

The Basics of Offense

The Basics of Defense

The Basics of Special Teams

And then test yourself with this quiz to seal the deal.

Good on the football front but wondering how these Thanksgiving Day games came about in the first place? Check out this History Lesson post.

Need a quick point of reference to go to during game day? Keep the Glossary page open on your phone or laptop!

Most of all, have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family! I hope it’s your best one yet!

History Lesson : Thanksgiving (in Detroit, not Plymouth)

photo source


You’re thinking turkey, of course. Probably family and pie, too. But you’re also thinking football, right? Aside from the Super Bowl itself, I doubt there’s a day of the year more synonymous with football than Thanksgiving.

So…why? How did that get started?

It began with the Lions. Hence the annual Lions game on Thanksgiving, for better or for worse (and, sorry, Detroit – it’s usually for worse). In 1934 the Portsmouth Spartans moved to Detroit and became the Detroit Lions.

(Although, aren’t we all just a little surprised that there isn’t an NFL team named the Spartans? Especially in the company of Cardinals and Ravens and Dolphins and Colts…a veritable zoo of animals that will leave the terror right out of your heart?)

(I realize I’m a fan of the Packers, which doesn’t necessarily strike fear into the heart of an opponent by name alone. But it’s such a rich history! Maybe that will be a history series in the future: team name origins.)

(Have I digressed?)

So, in 1934, the Spartans catch the midnight train to Detroit and become the Lions. Local radio executive George A. Richards purchased the team and was looking for a way to get a little of the limelight off of baseball and onto football. So he opted for a holiday game in an attempt to lure fans in during the team’s first year in the city.

And lure he did! The 26,000 tickets for the game sold out 2 weeks in advance, and it was estimated that nearly double would have been sold had they been available.

Not too shabby for their first year in town!

This was no homecoming game, no easy victory set up so that the home team comes out on top. This was a clash of the titans: the hometown Lions, who had lasted 8 straight games without allowing a touchdown (um, wow) and had a 10-1 record, and the rival Chicago Bears, who were one game better at 11-0 coming into the game.

They left 12-0.

The Bears took the division title that year, but roles would be reversed in the following year, when Detroit went on to win the Thanksgiving game (again against the Bears) and the 1935 Championship as well.

And, save for a small streak in the late 30’s and early 40’s, the Lions have played every Thanksgiving game since in one of the best Thanksgiving traditions since turkey. The Cowboys became a perennial Thanksgiving staple during the 60’s, and teams have rotated in and out of the Turkey Day schedule ever since it began, but it all started with the Lions.

Good job, Detroit. We’re thankful for you.