I’ll admit it. This part of the Thanksgiving is as if someone has put on a symphony played entirely on dog whistles. I don’t get football. I don’t think there’s much to get. So I stay out of it.

Luckily, football gets even more boring when you don’t watch. There’s endless hours of SportsCenter, plus the entire fantasy football thing. My fantasy football team is one in which they all become respected coaches, no one develops a concussion or ever commits domestic abuse.

However, if I want to see my male relatives on Thanksgiving, I have to play the game. The game of pretending to care about football.  So if you find yourself stationed with the men of the family and men in tight pants are giving each other brain damage: here is what to know.

For balance, I asked my two biggest football fans. For simplicity, we’ll call them Waldorf and Statler. Waldorf only likes one team, and he gets upset for days when they fumble. (One time while were doing a story on cockfighting in Puerto Rico with Waldorf, we had to stop production for the day on Sunday so he could watch his games. He was inconsolable for the rest of the trip.)

Me: What do I need to know about the games on Thanksgiving 2014?
Statler: It’s hard to dumb it down sometimes. No offense. I liken it to listening to the Greatest Hits or knowing the Deep Cuts. Once you know the Deep Cuts: it’s hard to tell what the Greatest Hits are.
Waldorf: I wouldn’t even know where to begin.
Statler: Thanksgiving games are as old as the NFL itself. The two teams that have always play every Thanksgiving are the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys.


Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears
12:30 on CBS at Ford Field, Detroit

Waldorf: The 1pm game is total garbage. It’s all NFC teams playing on Thanksgiving.
Me: [Googles furiously] The NFL is 32 teams divided evenly among the NFC and AFC. Winners of each conference will go against each other in the Super Bowl. Today is only NFC. Wait, seriously?
Statler: This year, it’s all divisional rivalries. My CHI Bears will play in Detroit. Detroit is in first place and has a few late game lucky plays that has helped them stay on top of the division. Don’t get me wrong, they’re really good, but they have also been pretty lucky. The Bears are well underperforming. They were supposed to be favorite to go to the Super Bowl this year, instead there is talk of firing everyone and starting over. Statistically they are not out of it, but I don’t expect them to win on Thursday.
Waldorf: The only people that thought they were Super Bowl favorites live in Chicago. The Dolphins beat them by 20 points and they have been even worse sense then.


Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys
4:30pm at AT&T Stadium at Arlington, Texas on Fox

Waldorf: The 4pm game is an important game for teams two teams battling for one of the worst divisions in football.
Statler: These two teams are fighting for first place in the NFC East division, depending on how the games go the Sunday before. Dallas is awesome this year despite the fact that they are a little dinged up and really have underperformed the last couple years. Something is clicking with them.
Me: [Looks up from laptop] Oh hey!  One of the NY Jets is back in the game and playing for Philadelphia.
Waldorf: Meh.
Statler: [Philadelphia]’s QB got hurt and a guy who hasn’t played in two years took over (former New York Jets QB and first round draft pick Mark Sanchez) and has been pretty good for them even though they lost horribly last week.  Should be a great game.
Waldorf: Nobody wants to watch Mark Sanchez play football. Google “butt fumble“.
Me: (Looks up from laptop) That happened on Thanksgiving Day 2012!  These games are starting to sound great!


Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers
8:30pm at Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA on NBC

Waldorf: The 8pm game is a rematch of the NFC Championship from last year which was the real super bowl since the Seahawks destroyed the Broncos in the actual Super Bowl.

Statler: A few years back they added a third game on Thanksgiving to be played at night That is not predetermined years in advance or anything, but usually scheduled at the beginning of the year for ratings (I’m speculating).
Me: Historically, a ’49er was a participant in the San Francisco Gold Rush of 1849. Here’s the rudest thing I’ve heard in a while: Brogrammers in Silicon Valley refer to women who move out there as “49ers.” Not because they’re gold diggers (although that is implied). But because they’re 4’s who think they’re 9’s. Gross, fellas.
Statler: Each team has gone to a Super Bowl in the last two years. SF in 2013 and SEA in 2014. Both were really close to going the year they didn’t.
Me: Also, Chris Pratt is a pretty great person in our cultural landscape and he really likes the Seahawks. But not the 49ers.

Statler: In the past few years the third game has been played by divisional rivalries, this year included. Before that it was usually a good matchup, like Baltimore v SF which featured the Harbaugh brothers: two head coaches on rival teams.  This was deemed the Harbowl ( … get it?).
Waldorf: Unfortunately both of those teams have had mediocre seasons this year but it’s probably the best game of the day.

Me: Did the games last weekend change anything?
Statler: Nope, both the PHI and DAL teams won so they will be playing for first place. SEA and SF have the same record, so that game is very important to those teams. Bears won and DET lost, so if the Bears can pull out a win that makes that division more exciting. But speaking as a Bears fan, I can say that it probably won’t happen. The Bears won yesterday, but they look terrible.

Hope this keeps you from making any butt-fumbles. Although if you’re with sweetie’s family for the first time and you really, really want to get in good with the family: this might be a good time to help with the dishes.


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