Sports Editor

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Here’s hoping that this weekend is the long respite weekend you’ve all needed to catch up on rest — unless your family is making you join them at a 0-dark-30 tomorrow morning to snare that awesome Christmas gift deal, climb a ladder this weekend to rig up Santa’s sleigh on the roof (One holiday at a time!) or head out.

But among the usual things to be thankful for today, the NFL came up flaming turkey wings when it comes to scheduling this year’s annual Thanksgiving football slate.

The Atlanta Falcons, who made the Super Bowl two years ago (don’t remind them) and the NFC divisional playoffs last year, are floundering a bit at 4-6 like they’ve had too much deep friend turkey pudding, have to go to New Orleans. Drew Brees and the Saints just hung 48 (points, not strands of tinsel, though it would have looked better) on the defending champ Philadelphia Eagles Sunday. Matt Ryan and the boys better hope there’s a lot of tryptophan in the Saints’ turkey.

Washington at Dallas looks fun, now that the Cowboys may have things figured out and the Redskins almost have to come back to the NFC East field after Alex Smith’s leg snapped like a drumstick Sunday (No, I have not seen a replay and choose not to).

King Goodell’s minions lucked into Chicago at Detroit. The Lions, Thanksgiving’s original football hosts, can make the NFC North race a fun one with a win over the Bears, who have Mitch Trubisky at the helm — and are winning anyway.

Farther into the weekend we get the big college rivalry games. Florida State must beat Florida to keep an eons-long bowl game streak alive, and Gator fans would love to oblige the Seminoles in being home for the holidays. UCF-USF and Ohio State-Michigan are buried in there along with whatever sale the big box gadget store is having. After all, the more TVs you have, the more football you can watch at one time!

But as we sit down to feast with our families today, here’s the annual Mighty News-Gazette Nine Things We’re Thankful For:

1. Our families are safe and healthy (If that’s the case). 2. We didn’t travel; TSA just doesn’t get into the holiday spirit. 3. I’m a UCF fan (GameDay was a blast Saturday!). 4. My mother-in-law lost her deep fried turkey pudding recipe. 5. We don’t coach the Jaguars. 6. Or the Bills. 7. My pants have an elastic waistband today. 8. Leftovers means not worrying about what’s for lunch for a while. 9. There’s almost a month before we really have to start Christmas shopping.

To the picks:

Turkey Day:

Chicago (-4) at Detroit: I joked about Trubisky, but he looks to be the real deal and might finally be a finding for them at QB. Bears by 7 and a piece of John Madden’s ‘ol turducken.

Washington at Dallas (-7.5): Ezekiel Elliott vs. Adrian Peterson overshadows Dak Prescott vs. Colt McCoy and his two healthy legs. Cowboys by dessert time.

Atlanta at New Orleans (-13): Just in time for the Pepto. Saints by bedtime.

Mississippi State (-11) at Ole Miss: Egg Bowl. Always a screwy game, and Rebels must win to be bowl eligible. Ole Miss by 3 in “SEC Decrees It Upset Special”.

Black Friday:

UCF (-14.5) at USF: Knights probably must win to keep Fiesta/Peach Bowl hopes alive. Bulls are not good but love the chance to be an early Grinch. Knights by just 7.

Oklahoma at West Virginia (-1): Two things likely — this will be a 49-45 game, and they’ll play again next week in the Big XII title game. Sooners in “We Score Last” Upset Special.

Washington at Washington State (-3): If nothing else, check out Wazzou QB Garrett Minshew. Cougars by 4.


Florida (-5) at FSU: Seminoles have to win. Gator fans always feel the same about this one. Gators by 7 and a Taggart buy-out.

Michigan (-4) at Ohio State: The same, on a Midwestern scale. Wolverines by 6, maybe in overtime.

Notre Dame (-11) at USC: Irish’s last chance to prove they’re a playoff team; Trojan’s last chance to prove they’re a fraud. I say yes to both. Irish by 13.

Georgia Tech at Georgia (-17): Tough spot for Bulldogs. Have to defend the triple option in a game largely meaningless the week before getting Alabama. Dawgs by just 3.

Auburn at Alabama (-24): Ditto, although while the Iron Bowl is never meaningless, losing it meant nothing to Saban, who turned and took his team to another national championship. Tide by 12.


Jacksonville (-3) at Buffalo: Only thing going faster than these two teams straight to the bottom is me to the kitchen for leftover green bean casserole. Bills by 3 because someone must win.

San Francisco at Tampa Bay (-3.5): Leave the stuffing out overnight, if you want to experience something that smells as bad as this. 49ers by a smelly 6.

Miami at Indianapolis (-9.5): Usually watching the Dolphins gives you indigestion. Cue the leftover deep friend turkey pudding … Colts by 10.

Brian “Big Man” McBride’s Super Sniffer Upset Special: 49ers by 3.

Pete “The Gators Are Going To Win” Covino says: UF by 6, and no bowl game for those ‘Noles!

If you tire of food, or football, or family, my quasi-radio crew is here to save Thanksgiving. Tune into the “Community Sports Report” online today from 4ish to 7ish p.m. at or on the TuneIn app and search WPRK.