Before we get started, I just wanted to remind everyone to check out Saturday Night's announcer-less football game on NFL Network. If enough of us watch, this dream scenario could happen again, and one day, we might even live in a world without Cris Collinsworth. Do you believe in miracles? Okay, back to the column.
You know what's even better than Thanksgiving? LEFTOVERS.
That's the magic of the holiday. You celebrate once on Thursday, and then spend the rest of the weekend reliving said celebration by stuffing your face with everything that enjoyed the first time around. So in the spirit of picking through all the leftovers fit for consumption, let's go through this week's Absolut NFL buffet with a special Thanksgiving theme. Are the Packers or Falcons the favorites in the NFC? ... Who wants sweet potatoes?!
A TURKEY, STUFFING AND CRANBERRY SANDWICH
It's usually not appropriate to build these sandwiches at Thanksgiving dinner—although maybe your family's cooler than mine—but the day after thanksgiving, there's nothing better than getting a few big rolls, and piecing together the best sandwich EVER with stuffing, turkey, and cranberry sauce. Add a little mayo, heat it up in the microwave, and BOOM. You're in heaven.
Packers at Falcons
Line: Falcons by 1.5
Announcers (FOX): Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick
Deciding Factor: Ryan or Rodgers: Who's the best young quarterback in the league?
Hard-Hitting Analysis: This is one of those games where we really have no idea what to expect. It's not like the Patriots and Colts last week. Both of these teams are young enough and unproven enough so that we don't quite know how they respond in big games. But we do know, whether it's a fluke or not, the Packers are 7-3 and the Falcons are 8-2, and they've been two of the best teams in the league so far. Whether they can remove "so far" from that tag remains to be seen. So I guess what I'm saying is... Just watch the game. It will go a long way toward revealing the true colors of these two.
Dolphins at Raiders
Announcers (CBS): Gus Johnson, Steve Tasker
Deciding Factor: GUS JOHNSON!!!!!!
Hard-Hitting Analysis: Did you see last week's Bills-Bengals game? I mean, good GOD. The Gus Johnson Effect is getting a little ridiculous. The Bengals were up 28-7, and then... Gus Johnson happened. It wasn't the Bills. It was Gus Johnson, the human Buffalo Wild Wings commercial, with the capacity to will any game to become interesting. Even a matchup between Jason Campbell and Tyler Thigpen? Even a matchup between Jason Campbell and Tyler Thigpen.
Eagles at Bears
Line: Eagles by 3.5
Announcers (FOX): Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
Deciding Factor: Every game Michael Vick plays is must-see TV.
Hard-Hitting Analysis: We're really testing that theory this week, though. Because watching the Bears play offense is about as excruciating as it gets. I really wish they'd just put Hester at QB and see what happens. Anything's better than Jay Cutler.
Chargers at Colts
Line: Colts by 3
Announcers (NBC): Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth
Deciding Factor: I really wish Cris Collinsworth would just go away.
Hard-Hitting Analysis: Just... Why don't we just lock him in a room somewhere? Give him a VCR and some old game tapes, and let him entertain himself with his brilliant insight for the rest of eternity. Pretty sure that's what Sunday Night Football has become, so we're halfway there.
LATE-NIGHT SWEET POTATOES
Really never a bad time for sweet potatoes, but after Thanksgiving, when they're just sitting there in the fridge, going to grab some 1 a.m. is pretty amazing. No need for some recipe to whip them into a new dish, no need to even heat them up. Just grab them cold, eat them out of the serving dish, and it's pretty much perfect. And really, really easy, which is always a plus.
Titans at Texans
Line: Houston by 6.5
Announcers (CBS): Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Deciding Factor: "Rusty Smith" just sounds like a terrible quarterback, right?
Hard-Hitting Analysis: But then, "Matt Schaub" doesn't sound that much better. And in any case, this game ranks high because I'm not ready to give up on the Titans or Jeff Fisher in Tennessee, and if there's any team that's available to choke away a winnable game, it's the Texans. Then again, you could have said the same thing about the Redskins last week, so... This is pretty much the last straw if the Titans lose this week.
Bucs at Ravens
Line: Ravens by 7.5
Announcers (FOX): Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan
Deciding Factor: Josh Freeman isn't more valuable than Joe Flacco... Is he?
Hard-Hitting Analysis: The Bucs keep winning, and it's almost December, and... Well, at some point, we're going to have to start watching this team to see whether they're any good. This week against Baltimore seems like as good a time as any.
PIE—PUMPKIN, PECAN, APPLE... SO MUCH PIE!
When else will you just have gratuitous amounts of pie sitting around the house, waiting to be devoured? Sure, after a few days of eating pie, it loses a little of its appeal, but it's still pretty much the best snack ever, and if you're eating Pumpkin or Apple pie, you can even fool yourself into thinking it's moderately healthy.
Steelers at Bills
Line: Pittsburgh by 6.5
Announcers (CBS): Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcotts
Deciding Factor: Would you rather have Steve Johnson or Mike Wallace at this point?
Hard-Hitting Analysis: Trick question: Santonio Holmes is so much better than either one of them.
Chiefs at Seahawks
Line: Chiefs by 2
Announcers (CBS): Bill Macatee, Rich Gannon
Deciding Factor: The AFC and NFC West are sooooooo bad.
Hard-Hitting Analysis: But, both these teams will probably make the playoffs, so we got that goin' for us!
Jaguars at Giants
Line: Giants by 7
Announcers (CBS): Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
Deciding Factor: So when will Tom Coughlin and Jack Del Rio get fired?
Hard-Hitting Analysis: It's not that they're doing a terrible job, but isn't it time for some fresh blood?
TURKEY AND MASHED POTATOES
Note: Super basic, but remember: You don't typically have mashed potatoes and turkey just sitting around the house. After Thanksgiving, you do. It's unspectacular, but it's also a pretty solid afternoon snack.
Vikings at Redskins
Line: Redskins by 1
Announcers (FOX): Dick Stockton, Charles Davis, Jim Mora, Jr.
Deciding Factor: Donovan McNabb gets an up-close look at his next teammates!
Hard-Hitting Analysis: And Leslie Frazier finally gets the chance he's always deserved. Err.. Sort of. He's coaching a team that's completely given up, has no chance at meaningful success, and almost certainly hates their quarterback, but... Hey! Leslie Frazier!
Rams at Broncos
Line: Broncos by 4
Announcers (FOX): Ron Pitts, John Lynch
Deciding Factor: Meh. The Broncos are better at home?
Hard-Hitting Analysis: Knowshon Moreno has looked great this year, in case you're wondering.
You weren't, though.
Okay, so not everything works quite as well as a leftover. And I know you can heat up gravy and re-use it, but there's something about when it's cold and congealed that makes gravy lose its appeal a little bit. Yes, something... Oh, I know! It loses its appeal because you realize that gravy is almost literally like injecting fat into your body. When it's hot, we overlook this. When it's cold and turned to gelatin, we can't help but notice.
49ers at Cardinals
Line: 49ers by 1
Announcers (ESPN): How is this game on Monday Night Football?
Deciding Factor: Actually, it's kind of perfect that this game's on Monday Night Football.
Hard-Hitting Analysis: Ever since Monday Night Football's move to ESPN, it's been a little less special. A lot of Mondays, I don't even remember there's football on. This will be one of those Mondays.