NFL Thanksgiving

Listen to this article

Planning on a big family get-together for Thanksgiving, but you want to watch some football? The NFL has some line ups for you, at least nine hours, from early in the morning to the evening. We’re on the West Coast so the games are just a bit earlier for us.

Matthew Stafford (Wikipedia)
Matthew Stafford (Wikipedia)

First game up, at 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time, will be the 4-6 Philadelphia Eagles at the 3-7 Detroit Lions. The experts give a slight edge to the Eagles, but quarterback Matthew Stafford of the Lions is throwing the ball pretty good. His primary receiver has been Calvin Johnson, who just might be back for Thanksgiving. Detroit fans will give thanks if he does lineup with the offense.

The Lions go into the game on a two-game winning streak, so they have some momentum. One of the teams in that short streak: the Green Bay Packers — at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

The Eagles have been on a two-game slide, losing their last game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 45-17. Philadelphia fans are the toughest in the league so their calling for the ouster of head coach Chip Kelly.

It’s questionable if quarterback Sam Bradford will play (Shoulder and concussion) and if that wasn’t bad enough, his back up, Mark Sanchez, has to contend with an offensive line that is missing 40 percent of it’s starters. Sanchez has had some highlight-worthy moments in his career so he could carry the Eagles to victory. There’s got to be a reason many analysts pick Philadelphia to win their division (NFC East). They’re just a game behind the division-leading New York Giants who are 5-5 right now.

Tony Romo (Claudia Gestro)
Tony Romo (Claudia Gestro)

The Dallas Cowboys will host the Carolina Panthers in the second game of the day; 1:30 p.m. PT. Dallas could use a Detroit win. Their record is 3-7 so if they beat the Panthers and Philly lost, they would could get into a tie with the Eagles … but the Cowboys are playing the unbeaten Carolina Panthers.

They have Tony Romo back under center and if Darren McFadden has another 100-yard rushing day, Dallas could hand Carolina their first loss of the season. But the Panthers have Cam newton under center and running back Jonathan Stewart. They average 29 points a game and their opponents just 19. The Cowboys will be facing the fifth best defense in the league.

If Romo is on his game and the Dallas defense can put a dent in Cam Newton’s offense, this could be a very interesting game.

The highlight game of the day has to be the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers. Kick-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. PT. They call the NFC North the “Black and Blue” Division for a reason — there’s no love lost between these two teams or any others in the division. The players and coaches will tell you this is important because it’s a division game, but once the game gets under way it gets pretty nasty. Always has and always will. The fans will know it’s a big deal. Packer-backers will tell you if the Pack loses every other game remaining in the season, they could live with that as long as the Packers beat the Bears. Bears fans will say the same thing.

The Green Bay Packers vs. the Chicago Bears at Soldiers Field, Chicago, with Brett Favre at Quaterback. (Wikipedia)
The Green Bay Packers vs. the Chicago Bears at Soldiers Field, Chicago, with Brett Favre at Quaterback. (Wikipedia)

This is the oldest rivalry in the NFL and long time Bears and Packers fans will regale you with stories of games past; the heroes, the goats and cheap shots. But at Lambeau Field the home crowd will be somewhat polite to the Chicago fans that make the six-hour-plus drive to see their Bears. It’s going to be cold has hell — literally — when the teams take the field at 7:30 p.m. local time (Central Time).

They’re expecting an inch of rain on Thursday and the temperature will be slightly above freezing at the kick-off. By the time it is over the temperatures will be well below freezing and the rain might actually be snow. With the wind chill factor it will be -1°f; icy conditions regardless. Perfect weather for a football game — a Bears-Packers game. Ask any fans in those seats.

Lambeau Field has the heating system under the turf, so at least the grass won’t be frozen. Both teams are well-acquainted with these conditions; the Bears play at Soldier Field in Chicago, another open-air shrine to old school football.

#15 Bart Starr with legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi (Wikipedia)
#15 Bart Starr with legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi (Wikipedia)

Give the edge to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, simply because they are an elite team in the NFL and the Bears are not. Chicago isn’t a very bad team this year, they’ve won four games, but they face one of the best offenses in the league and the eighth best defense.

At halftime the Packers will pay tribute to two of their former All Star quarterbacks: #15 Bart Starr and #4 Brett Favre when they officially retire Favre’s number. There won’t be a dry Green Bay eye anywhere in America.

Yep, this should be another black and blue game. Literally.

There’s your football wrap for Thanksgiving. Enjoy the family (if possible), the food and the NFL.

Claudia Gestro contributed to this article.

Top photo: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI. Home of the Packers (Wikipedia)