For normal people, Thanksgiving is a special time of year to give thanks and get together with family, friends, and loved ones. Thankfully, if you are reading this column there is a 90% chance you are a football addict like me. This Thursday is a day to enjoy family, but more importantly, spend all day following football games. You need to check your fantasy lineup and 3 team parlays that will set you up to ensure a big money Christmas right around the corner. I don’t want to live in a world where I have to endure a long Thanksgiving Day marathon without non-stop football action, Turducken, and just a little bit of CTE sprinkled in.
Over the past 15-20 years the NFL/NCAA and television executives have transformed our national holiday into a day to escape your loved ones by watching football all day. In 2006 the NFL added a third Thanksgiving game for those with wives/husbands that haven’t left them over football addiction yet. Although most would point toward the NFL and the Lions and Cowboys as NFL Thanksgiving day game traditions, the idea predates the NFL’s first turkey day game in 1920. Many reports show that other football leagues played games on Thanksgiving going back to as early as the 1890’s, with college football actually starting the trend with the 1876 matchup between Yale and Princeton (I like the UNDER!). The reason for playing games on Thanksgiving was because, like today, many have the day off of work and are able to attend games. Flash forward to 2016, modern technology has changed the game for those poor souls who don’t control their own Thanksgiving destiny and have annoying dinner obligations ruining your football vibe. Now, you are able to sneak an iPad or phone on your lap at the dinner table to see if the Cowboys can cover as favorites, while checking your online sports book balance plotting your play on the Steelers/Colts late night game. It’s just like the pilgrims and natives envisioned all those years ago.
There are four big football matchups this year on Thanksgiving, and I will give you a brief preview of each game, as well as let you know what times of the day to try and disappear from sight. All times will be Pacific Time for our Vegas and west coast readers. I assume all of you Midwestern folks and our loyal readers worldwide can do the time conversion.
9:00 AM PST CBS – Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
We have an early morning kickoff here on the west coast that is worth waking up for. These two teams are tied at 6-4 battling for one playoff spot, with the NFC wild card looking likely out of the NFC East division. The Vikings have been struggling losing 4 out of their last 5; with the Lions quietly winning and making people forget that Jim Caldwell is still the head coach. The Lions are the sort of team that, with their reputation, leaves fans and the betting public skeptical of their ability to finish the year strong. I like the home favorite if you can get them under -3. Pick: Lions -2.5
1:30 PM PST FOX – Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys
After Sunday night’s humbling experience of Washington taking out Green Bay in dominate fashion, I am truly convinced we nearing the end of days on earth. Dan Fucking Snyder was dancing the owner’s box while Kirk Cousins looked like Dan Marino torching the Packers defense all game long. What reality am I living in? If you don’t believe it by now, some sort of world/existence apocalypse is going on, with the first obvious first sign being the Cubs winning the World Series. The second sign was Donald Trump being “elected” president. You can also throw in 2016 being a year where we lost Prince and David Bowie, amongst many others. I’m very tempted to put down some major future $ on the Skins and Snyder shocking the world and winning Super Bowl 51. This would be the third and final straw for me. All bets are off, plan accordingly for the end! Also, the Cowboys are good at football. Pick: Redskins +7
4:30 PM PST ESPN – LSU Tigers at Texas A&M Aggies
Not fond of the NFL? We have some later afternoon/early evening college football for those who prefer some SEC action. This isn’t your father’s/uncle’s/brother’s SEC, they are just an average conference with one really great team in Alabama. LSU is in the middle of a coaching search, so it’s hard to gauge how they will play on the road in a season that hasn’t worked out like players envisioned. I heard rumblings that A&M is unhappy with Kevin Sumlin and a loss here to LSU would give them an excuse to get rid of him and jump in the Tom Herman sweepstakes with Texas, LSU, Oregon, and others. This is insanity, and another reason why SEC boosters and fans are the worst. It’s no longer “what you did for me lately?”, but literally “what did you do for me last week?” at this point for certain fan bases and administration. If Leonard Fournette was fully healthy I would give the nod to the Tigers, but I expect the Aggies to play tough at home. Pick: Texas A&M +6.5
5:30 PM PST NBC – Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts
This will be the late night affair that puts many to sleep, or possibly awaken to as you emerge from your food coma. Depending on who is playing quarterback for the Colts, you may want to hope that you miss it. Andrew Luck is questionable with a concussion, and the quick Thursday night game turnaround doesn’t bode well for him starting. Fear not, Scott Tolzien is on it! Who??? Scott Tolzien seems like a nice guy and serviceable 3rd string QB in the NFL, yet you don’t want him anywhere near a starting role. I estimate that I have seen 95% of the snaps Tolzien took as a starter for one year in college at Wisconsin, as well as any PT he got in Green Bay backing up Aaron Rodgers the past few years. He is the same basic generic Badgers QB you have seen ever, sans Russell Wilson. If the turkey doesn’t put you to sleep, Tolzien and Pagano will for the Colts. There is no line on this game, because if Luck is out the Colts are pretty much fucked. Pick: Steelers (line pending with Luck injury)
THANKSGIVING COLLEGE WEEK PICKS
We are coming to the end of the road of the college football season, and I will continue to make my weekly three plays against the spread. Last week my plays were posted exclusively on Twitter @LvSportsPress, where I went 2-1. This brings my season record through 12 weeks to 22-14. Grab some free $ while you can.
TEXAS (-3) over Tcu- Sorry Texas boosters and fans, I didn’t mean to slight you earlier when I called SEC fans delusional, I consider you part of the same group. Charlie Strong has struggled at Texas, but has done a great job recruiting. Reports are that he is as good as fired after this week, no matter what happens in this game. This quick trigger to fire coaches will only hurt programs in the long run, and put them further behind from winning a national championship that they crave. Longhorn players have expressed their support for Strong all week, so I expect them to come out emotional and play well for their coach as an FU to the university and booster’s decision.
WASHINGTON STATE (+6) over Washington – Washington State upsetting Washington at home would more than likely seal the fate of the Huskies and conference as a whole to not reach the playoff. This is a huge rivalry game, and the 6 points is too much to lay for a Mike Leach team on a clear mission to spoil their neighboring universities success.
Wyoming (-3) over NEW MEXICO- I’ve been a big Cowboy’s backer all year, and minus their strange hiccup here in Vegas against UNLV, they have delivered. They will be playing in the Mountain West conference championship game in a rematch against a San Diego State team they upset on home this past week. This is a huge game for them, and I expect them to show up big time.
Remember to check out all things VSP on our website, including weekly podcasts hosted by yours truly and Cornbread Dave. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @LvSportsPress, as well as like us on Facebook. Happy Thanksgiving to all!