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Shut Up and Give Thanks for Football

By Harry Cheadle

Let’s talk about Thanksgiving, a holiday that celebrates togetherness, good cheer, and cooperation between the Native Americans and the Pilgrims that allowed both groups to prosper, so many years ago. Ha ha, just kidding! Thanksgiving actually commemorates either the slaughter of 700 Pequot Indians at the hands of white settlers, or the Pilgrims adopting capitalism, depending on whether you believe Rush Limbaugh or the Huffington Post. (Isn’t it heartwarming to think that our fundamental understanding of history is shaped by our political opinions?) The traditional turkey your family feasts on, if it’s a Broad Breasted White, has been bred to be so grotesquely obese that it can’t fly, or even walk, and has to be artificially inseminated because the breed is so ill-proportioned it can’t physically have sex. The one upside to that kind of turkey is that we’re probably doing it a favor by slaughtering and eating it, since its life is no doubt horrible. Even the turkeys that are “pardoned” each year by the president usually die shortly afterwards thanks to a long list of chronic health problems.

So it’s appropriate that we couple this holiday with football, a sport that, like a Broad Breasted White, wouldn’t survive in the wild and whose existence raises some fairly harrowing ethical questions. NFL football is an overcomplicated game with a host of strange rules, and playing it requires dozens of players and coaches as well as sophisticated electronic equipment. It’s evolved to this level of complexity over decades—if modern football didn’t exist and you invented it whole cloth, radios in the quarterbacks’ helmets and instant replay machines and pass interference rules and all, everyone would think you were crazy, and they would be right. Then there’s the separate question of the head injuries that turn the game from an absurd sideshow into something that should make us fairly uncomfortable—are we watching young men ruin their lives when they run into each other like that?  

Americans are great at sweeping questions away and turning complex shades of gray into black and white. That’s not always a terrible thing. Thanksgiving isn’t really about the slaughter of the Pequots or the failure of collectivism; it’s about getting together and breaking bread with people you love enough to tolerate. Likewise—if you squint—football is about determination and athletic prowess and the coordination and planning required to get 11 men to move a ball forward when 11 other men really, really don’t want them to do so. That’s an oversimplification, and it handwaves a lot of legitimate questions away—but look, playing football professionally is very difficult, lots of athletes want to do it, and watching them provides a bunch of us with joy. Maybe it doesn’t need to be any more complicated then that some days? 

THE GAMES

Houston (-3) at Detroit
If you want to seem like you know a lot about football, here’s an easy trick: When a team’s offense is struggling for no obvious reason, blame the offensive line. Like, “The Lions aren’t nearly as explosive on offense as they were last year, and their stats are down. The reason for this is the offensive line is much worse than it was last year.” Only people who pay attention to the games for a living will know enough to contradict you, and you might even be right.
PICK: Houston

Washington (+4) at Dallas
Dallas won last week in overtime after being behind the Browns 13-0 at halftime, and they could now very well go on a playoff run. Let’s go to Urban Dictionary for some analysis. Who are the Dallas Cowboys?

“the shittiest football team in the history of the NFL. Even worse than the Lions. Every year that the Cowboys have made the playoffs since the 90's, they choked because they are a bunch of looser cock suckers that are just jealous of other teams because they suck. and their quarterback ,Tony Homo, is a mark ass trick that is afraid”
PICK: Washington

New England (-6) at New York Jets
Mostly when we talk about Tom Brady we talk about his supermodel girlfriends or fashion spreads or about how good he is, so he doesn’t get a lot of credit for being one of the most boring interviews in history. Here’s part of a recent press conference:

Q: Have you had a chance to see or talk to Rob Gronkowski since yesterday? 
Tom Brady: Not much. I’ve been spending a lot of time on the Jets. 
Q: Do you know if he’s in good spirits? 
TB:I haven’t been thinking about his spirits. I’ve been thinking about the Jets. 

You tell em, Tom! Who cares about your teammate with the broken arm when you’ve got a game against a 4-6 team to prepare for?
PICK: New England

Oakland  (+7.5) at Cincinnati
This is why .gifs are great: I could write a bunch of shit about how AJ Green is one of the most talented receivers in the league, and cite a bunch of stats, or I could just show you this:


PICK: Cincinnati

Pittsburgh (-1.5) at Cleveland
Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich are out, so Charlie Batch, third-stringer extraordinaire, is starting at quarterback. You might bitch about Batch’s ability and go, “Wah wah this game is going to suck ‘cause it’s a bad quarterback playing the Browns,” but you know what? Batch is in Eastern Michigan University’s athletic hall of fame. Are you in a hall of fame? No, because they don’t put people in halls of fame for finally buying a nice shirt and almost making your girlfriend orgasm.
PICK: Cleveland

Buffalo (+3) at Indianapolis
Disneyland in Paris has an attraction called Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and maybe I’m being hypersensitive, but that doesn’t seem OK. What if American Disneyland had an attraction where a bunch of French people sat around in berets and smoked cigarettes and had affairs?


PICK: Buffalo

Denver (-10) at Kansas City
WE OUT HERE STANDING IN A ROOFTOP PARKING LOT RAPPING ABOUT THE BRONCOS IT’S NOT BRONCOS NATION DUMBASSES BRONCOS COUNTRY LEARN HOW TO FUCKEN READ


PICK: Denver

Tennessee (-3) at Jacksonville
Chad Henne is starting for Jacksonville after playing well last week. He’s thrown 36 touchdowns and 38 interceptions in his mostly disappointing career, but there was once a spark of hope in young Chad—check out this highlights video made by a poor, confused Dolphins fan (set to Juelz Santana, because nothing says, “semi-reliable second-string quarterback” like “Dipset”):


PICK: Tennessee

Minnesota (+2.5) at Chicago
Chicago should win this one easily if they want to avoid all the “THE BEARS ARE IN A NOSEDIVE” newspaper columns. But since you’re here, can I tell you I’m selling my first-edition Megadeth Pogs™? These are the Megadeth-only Pogs™ from 1994 and not the more common Stars of Heavy Metal Pogs™ from a year later, so I don’t need to tell you they’re incredibly rare. I should mention I’m not looking for Pogs™ but interesting trades are nonetheless considered—as always! Please sound off in the comments below and thank you for choosing Pogs™.
PICK: Chicago, and ask about combined shipping

Atlanta (-1) at Tampa Bay
There are a bunch of oddly low lines this week and I don’t know what that means. Shouldn’t Atlanta be favored by more than this? Did the Vegas oddsmakers leave the intern in charge this week and go home for Thanksgiving? There’s probably a real reason for these low lines that involves a bunch of complex gambling concepts, but we’re going home for Thanksgiving so we don’t care to look it up.
PICK: Tampa Bay

Seattle (-3) at Miami
Here is an interpretation of the Seahawks traveling all the way across the country, frolicking in the water, and then returning home:


PICK: Seattle

Baltimore (-1) at San Diego
I hate watching these teams play, but this’ll be a good one since the Ravens should intercept Phil Rivers like eight times. Then he’ll make a bunch of awful sad faces:

 And you’ll be like “wait, does he deserve this? Isn’t he just a man? What did he do to deserve this?

Yeah, he’s a jerk. It’s fine.
PICK: Baltimore

San Francisco (-2.5) at New Orleans
There’s a quarterback controversy in San Francisco—Alex Smith had a concussion on Monday and his replacement, Colin Kaepernick, beat the shit of the Bears. Having two options at quarterback is a “problem” just like the Saints have a “defense.”
PICK: San Francisco

St. Louis (+2.5) at Arizona
Does anyone in St. Louis care that the Cardinals left for Arizona in 1987? Is this some big rivalry in anyone’s mind? Probably not.
PICK: St. Louis

Green Bay (+2.5) at New York Giants
I live in New York and it was so nice that the Giants had a bye last week. I didn’t have to see all those sad fat dudes dressed up like sports-babies running around the bar near my crib and making every white male who wears sneakers guilty by association. Now that they’re playing again this weekend I’ll need to wear a suit while I run my errands just so no one tries to high-five me or yell about Eli Manning. I’M NOT ONE OF YOU.
PICK: Green Bay

Carolina (+2.5) at Philadelphia
This game is just depressing. A 3-7 team going up against a 2-8 team, neither of which have many short-term prospects. On Monday Night Football. Everything about this game and these teams make me sad. If Andy Reid and Cam Newton lock eyes they’ll probably both jump off a bridge.
PICK: Carolina

Previous Week’s Record: 6-8

Overall Record: 81-73-6

Previously: J! E! T! S! Mess Mess Mess!

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