Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I am stuffed from Thanksgiving yesterday. The combination of turkey, beer and football addled my brain to the point where I had an epiphany, which I shared with fellow panellist Gur Samuel:
So, in a break from tradition, and while super-tired and hungover, here, for one time only, is ‘Three Things You Need To Know From Thanksgiving’ 1. In a thoroughly one-sided contest to kick us off on Thanksgiving, the Lions mauled the Eagles like a Lion mauls… well… an eagle, to a tune of 45-14. Matthew Stafford, who don’t forget, was benched for Dan Orlovsky earlier in the season during their loss to the Cardinals, threw for five touchdown passes, including three to Calvin Johnson. The Lions have been on a roll somewhat of late, and won three of their past four games, including an unbeaten run since owner Martha Firestone-Ford fired the front office. Considering one team had nothing to play for, and the other had everything to play for, you would be forgiven for thinking that the Lions were the team in with a shot of winning a division. Well it now looks like the Eagles will face another year out of the playoffs, unless Chip Kelly can spark a massive turnaround on both sides of the ball. In the past 11 quarters, the Eagles have been outscored 107 to 34, including back-to-back games of conceding 45 points. Playing man coverage on Johnson is a dumb idea, made worse when the person covering him is your third-string rookie corner. Even worse, was the offense’s ineptitude to move the ball. DeMarco Murray, who led the league in rushing yards last year by battering through defenders and exploiting big holes, is woefully misused on stretch plays, something that everyone but Kelly can see. Sanchez is not the answer at quarterback (neither is Sam Bradford, come to think of it), and seeing as this team has been shaped in Kelly’s vision, I expect Kelly to be baring the brunt of these failures. 2. This must be a parallel universe, because for some inexplicable reason, a 10-0 team went to a 3-7 team as an underdog. Well, in the correct universe, of course the 10-0 team came out on top. Yes, the Carolina Panthers marched into Dallas and pummelled the Texans with a staunch defensive effort to secure a 33-14 victory. In a game where he threw three interceptions in the first half, included two pick-sixes, Tony Romo left the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter clutching his previously injured left shoulder. Matt Cassel came in as relief, and you have got to assume that Romo, much the Dallas Cowboys’ playoff hopes, is now done for the season. The story of much of the game was Carolina’s ability to convert on third down, while both defenses came to play. As aforementioned, the Panthers defense had three interceptions of Romo, with Luke Kuechly nabbing two in consecutive Cowboys’ plays, after Kurt Coleman helped himself to one on the first drive of the game. Outside of the pick-sixes, the Panthers’ offense was frustrated when in the Cowboys half, limited to one touchdown on a Cam Newton run. The Cowboys offered little, rushing for just 22 yards and scoring just one touchdown in garbage time. Oh and please, if you still think this Panthers team isn’t a legitimate Super Bowl contender, go get yourself checked out at your local doctor. 3. On a night where Green Bay Packers legend Brett Favre (and similarly, Bart Starr) made a triumphant return to Lambeau Field, the Chicago Bears managed to leave their mark too. In driving wind and rain, or “Green Bay weather” as Favre described it, the Bears bested the Packers 17-13. The Packers struggled to get going all game. Despite coming off a turnaround performance against the Minnesota Vikings after three straight losses, the Packers failed to take advantage over a Bears secondary that up until last night had been one of the worst in the league. Eddy Lacy, though seemingly back to near full fitness, never topped his opening rush of the night where he rumbled his way to 33 yards when he should have been brought down near the line of scrimmage. In fact, he almost blew the Packers’ only touchdown when he arrogantly flipped the ball away as he crossed into the end zone, just getting enough of the ball across the line to make it a score. It still baffles me that players do such ridiculous things in an industry where literally your only job is to score. Do. Your. Job. Kudos to the Bears for hanging in late. Aaron Rodgers had the ball in his hands three times during the latter stages of the fourth quarter, and the Bears made two stops and had an interception to seal the deal. Where the offenses of both teams struggled, it was the Bears defense that outplayed the Packers defense in order to leave Lambeau with a win. The Thanksgiving game should have been about more than just the Brett Favre jersey retirement ceremony for Packers fans, but after a performance which saw them potentially lose their one game advantage over the Vikings in the NFC North, that’s all they have to cling to. The Bears, arguably considered the worst team in the NFL during the preseason, are 5-6 and are realistic playoff candidates on this form.