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NFL Panic Index 2017, Week 12: Thanksgiving football worth talking about

It’s Thanksgiving, and your friends and family are going to be worked up over a lot of football things. Put their minds at ease with the Panic Index.

Baltimore Ravens v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Thanksgiving is finally here, and that means food and football, our two favorite things! It also means a day with the relatives, who will complain about all of these while you eat and watch the NFL triple header on tap for Thursday.

Fortunately, we are here to help. These eight things will come up again and again, not just Thursday either, but all weekend long. Inoculate yourself from inane football banter. When your friends and family start complaining about any of these topics, you can set them straight about what’s worth panicking about and what’s really not.

Good luck and happy eating!

Everyone’s favorite players are hurt

Some fans love to complain that football isn’t the same because of concerns with player safety, and changed rules.

Well, they’re kind of needed. Especially when you look at the list of players who have been injured and lost for the season:

  • David Johnson
  • Joe Thomas
  • Eric Berry
  • Andrew Luck
  • Ryan Tannehill
  • Jason Peters
  • Darren Sproles
  • Odell Beckham Jr.
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Julian Edelman
  • J.J. Watt
  • Whitney Mercilus
  • Dalvin Cook
  • Deshaun Watson

But there are other players out there to watch. Carson Wentz and the Eagles have been incredible to watch, Le’Veon Bell, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and the Steelers have been a joy. Of course, there’s always the Seahawks and Russell Wilson, and that No. 12 in New England to watch.

Panic index: Help lead your family members in other directions. Football is still good. Be thankful that there’s been other players in good health.

Some relatives will love the Color Rush uniforms, and some will hate

Color Rush is a mixed bag. Some uniforms are more appealing to some than others, but like anything, it’s all about personal preference.

Now, if your grumpy old uncle doesn’t like them because they aren’t traditional or claims they come off as players or the NFL wanting more attention — then he’s just being a Crusty Old. Color Rush uniforms are fine, but some are certainly better than others.

An example of good:

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

An example of bad:

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Not everyone can get things right, and that’s OK.

Panic index: Good thing the uniforms have no bearing on the game’s result, right?

The QB who is Actually Fine

It’s inevitable that quarterback play among family members’ favorite teams are going to be discussed. Unless your team has an MVP-candidate quarterback, it’s almost a guarantee that talk is negative in some sense.

There are plenty of reasons for quarterback play that’s less than ideal. It could be a bad offensive line, lack of weapons, or a combination of the two. It could also be that a team’s quarterback just stinks — see: Brock Osweiler, Blake Bortles, etc.

A lot of casual fans don’t understand that football is more complex than a quarterback snapping a ball, and delivering a pass like he’s in a backyard with a parent. Those guys are out there moving fast, and there’s 10 other players with him that also have to be even just *decent*.

Panic index: Just nod your head, and pivot to the next conversation as swiftly as possible.

We have to watch the Lions again, who haven’t had a good running back since Barry Sanders

Thanksgiving used to be a day where you could escape the mountains of food and forced family banter, spill into a vaguely human-shaped puddle near a big television, and let Barry Sanders move like a caffeinated water bug en route to carving up opposing defenses like so much turkey.

And then, 19 years ago, he was gone, leaving a 5’8 hole in our hearts in late November, forcing us to watch the Lions struggle through meaningless season after meaningless season. Sanders’ retirement after the 1998 season took the only sail from a rudderless Detroit team. In the Thanksgivings since, we’ve been forced to watch tailbacks like Shawn Bryson, Mikel Leshoure, Greg Hill, and Joique Bell run two yards into the backs of their own blockers before falling to the turf. It’s a frustration that permeates through the FOX broadcast and into homes across the nation. Since Sanders’ retirement, Thanksgiving arguments have increased by 113%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.*

2017 is no better. Ameer Abdullah’s greatest NFL accomplishment is sinking fantasy teams across the globe. Theo Riddick has run for just 3.5 yards per carry. For players with at least 10 carries this fall, quarterback Matthew Stafford has the team’s highest per-carry average. Never before has the Detroit offense been so reliant on its highly-paid passer.

Panic index: There’s a non-insignificant chance the Lions’ longest run of any given game will come from Stafford, and that’s not depressing at all.

*no they haven’t.

Your brother insists Bama can beat the Browns

The Browns are bad. We’re not going to dispute that. But could they beat Bama? Yes. That’s not going to stop your brother from piping up at Thanksgiving with an opinion to the contrary. He is wrong.

Here’s the thing: Alabama has a very good college football team. They’re well-coached, and they’re stacked with talent. They tend to dominate their competition, which is also a bunch of guys who are in college. They’re not professional athletes.

About 1.5 percent of college players make it to the NFL, according to data from the NCAA. That means that 98.5 percent of the guys Bama’s beating right now are going pro in something other than football. The Browns can’t seem to get a win against any other team in the NFL, but that roster is still made up of the best of the best from the college level.

Panic index: Tell your brother to have a seat. The Browns can definitely beat Bama.

The guy who goes on and on about how there’s too much offense

Defense wins championships. That’s the old school refrain. And somebody at your gathering is going to lament the fact that there’s too dang much offense in today’s NFL.

Every rule is geared toward making life easy for the offense. Defensive players can’t even glance in the quarterback’s direction without getting flagged. Wide receivers can interfere as much as they want, but if a cornerback does a little hand checking, here comes a penalty.

They’re not wrong. The rules are kind of slanted toward the offense. But here’s the thing: Offense is fun.

Panic index: We love sacks and interceptions as much as the next fan. But we also love the one-handed Julio Jones catches and watching Jay Ajayi bust through the entire Dallas defense for a 71-yard gain. Just let us have this.

The fan of the surprise team that won’t talk about anything else

It’s exciting when your team goes from perennially missing out on the postseason to a virtual lock. And teams like the Rams, Vikings, Eagles, and Jaguars are all riding high right now. Sure, that’s fun for fans of those teams.

We get it. You’ve lived through season after season of futility, and you can’t believe the Rams or the Jaguars or the Eagles are actually good. Now all you want to do is flex on people who doubted your team. But at some point you’ve got to give it a rest.

There are so many other things to discuss with your loved ones at Thanksgiving. Talk about the wonderful spread, and compliment the chef. Ask your cousin about his new job. Ask your family what they think about whatever off-the-wall thing President Trump tweeted this morning.

Actually, on second thought, don’t do that last one.

Panic index: Your team is rolling, and you’re right to be happy about it. But think of the Browns fans at the table. Just give everyone a break here and there about your team’s winning ways this season.

The person who makes a big show about not watching football

We love football, but not everyone does. AND THAT’S FINE. You know what’s insufferable, though? The people who acts morally superior to everyone else because “hmmpf, I, better person than YOU, have stopped watching the NFL.”

And yes, some reasons for tuning out are more understandable. Concussions, for one, are not something to be taken lightly, in any sport.

But the majority of those who pat themselves on the back for quitting the NFL belong on the scale of eye rolls:

  • The “Take a Knee My Ass” crowd. Educate yourself.
  • The “NBA/college/hockey/cricket is better” folks. We here at SB Nation are of the opinion that all sports are good and you should like whatever you want to like. But just because YOU prefer one doesn’t mean any other opinion is wrong. It’s just different. There’s no need to crap on one sport to pump up your favorite.
  • ”The games suck!” Oh, some of them do, for sure. No one wants to watch the Dolphins or Ravens, let alone Dolphins vs. Ravens. But there are legitimately good games each week. First game of the season? Patriots vs. Chiefs, a banger. The most recent game? Seahawks vs. Falcons, a thriller. Heck, even the “bad” games can be fun — if you just sit back and let yourself enjoy them.
  • ”It’s all about money now.” As opposed to when exactly?

Panic index: You will probably have to deal with at least one of these people on Thanksgiving, but if you want watch football, then watch football. Don’t let anyone else take the joy out of that for you.

The worst Thanksgiving NFL game