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By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
Thanksgiving Day is here and for sports fans and pickers that means important procedures are established for the last Thursday in November. This is not just any other holiday as American pop culture has and will continue to swaddle us with our sports fix during Turkey Day like nowhere else. It is socially acceptable to crack open your first beverage NICE and early as the parade floats make their way through Manhattan and Santa waves in the holiday season. Loosen up a couple of notches on the belt and glue yourself to the couch for the ensuing 10+ hours of NFL football and sports viewing, with absolutely NO SHAME to be felt.
This day is a marathon of sports gluttony that is to be treated with love and planned out carefully. We will collectively tackle distractions (landmines) like long-lost cousins you’ve never met, talkative aunts, overzealous puppies, and babies that don’t understand that the over is in jeopardy. So, on days like this, you need a roadmap to maximize sports watching, betting entertainment, eating, and even a little bit of family time. With that here’s your fool-proof Thanksgiving Day guide to winning the day and your stomach.
(A Thanksgiving Day square pool with friends or family (or both!) will really juice up your couch potato day. Get your pool started now!)
In recent years I’ve found the sweet spot for my Thanksgiving timeline, and it features an appetizer meal in the midday hours and a main course turkey dinner in the late afternoon or evening. This year’s apps are Chips and Queso, Pice De Gallo, Stuffed Mushrooms, and a meats and cheeses board for the day. The kickoff for game 1 of the NFL’s Thanksgiving Day slate (as always) features the Detroit Lions (+10) hosting the high-flying Buffalo Bills. The 12:30 pm ET kickoff to game one means you’ll need your chips, dips, apps, and boards and prepped and cooked by Noon so everything is ready for kickoff. As for the west coast, you’re running a brunch and champagne playbook. Turkey can go in and roast during the duration of the Lions game, and here’s to hoping the Lions keep it close for a bit and go score for score with the Bills. I’m quite tempted to bet the Over 51.5 points but this game tends to be a drag so I probably lean UNDER (sadly). As for the halftime show, it features DJ David Guetta and singer Bebe Rexha performing a revamped 2022 version of the Eiffel 65 hit “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” that will surely confuse your eardrums.
THE MAIN COURSE
For context, I’ve got a 12 lb. turkey, three sides, rolls, and whole berry cranberry sauce (cause I’m normal) on my main course menu. If you’re looking to dine at a time that has you catching the end of game one in Detroit, and the end of game two in Dallas featuring the Cowboys (-7) hosting the Giants, you will need to plan accordingly. The best dinner times Thursday are either 5 pm ET or 6:30 pm ET – these are the slowest points of the second and third quarter of action, and neither has you missing the Jonas Brothers halftime performance that your teeny-bopper music junkies in the family have been clamoring about for hours. As for the game, you have to feel like the air might start to leak out this Giants team that’s gotten every bounce, and it’s a tough spot for them to stay within a touchdown. It also might be fun to bet against your loud house guest from New York…
DESSERT AND THE LATE-NIGHT PLATE
In what is typically the toughest game to stay up for and watch in full, the tryptophan-laced nightcap NFL viewing features my New England Patriots (+3.5) in Minnesota against the Vikings. With an 8:20 pm ET kick it’s surely time for that microwaved plate of leftovers or a rainbow of pies shoved onto one surface. The low over/under of 43.5 is tempting for those looking (and hoping) for a Thanksgiving night shootout and Kirk Cousins has certainly lit up the scoreboard more often than not this season. What the Patriots offense does is a whole other question and mystery as well. I’m also mentally prepared for something weird to happen – my last memory of the Pats playing on Thanksgiving night is the infamous “Butt Fumble” game, so how can we possibly top that? Hopefully, you can stay awake till the end of the trifecta. If not, set an alarm for the midnight Black Friday deals.
If you STILL need more football: College Football has you covered, with than annual Egg Bowl rivalry pitting #14 Ole Miss (-4) up against their rival Mississippi State. The 7 pm ET kick should have a pretty high point total and feature a lot of scoring and bad blood between these in-state foes.
College Hoops is rolling ALL DAY LONG on Thanksgiving Day if you didn’t already realize it, starting at 11 am ET. By my count, there are at least 15 games nationally televised and a handful of top 25 teams in action including Duke, UNC, and a 12:30 am ET late-nighter with Gonzaga and Portland State that will please insomnia sufferers and late-night shoppers. Hoops will be there for you during any commercial break or awkward pause like no other family member could be.
The best times to ACTUALLY talk to family are as follows: 1 pm ET after your first plate and once the Lions go down 7-0, or the second half of the Cowboys game as you’ll see in my picks below!
THE COUCH POTATO PLAYS FOR ALEX
It’s a bit of a downer, but so is this first Turkey Day game in general. I have to take UNDER 51.5 points in Lions/Bills because this reeks of a slow starting game.
I’m betting on the spot and guessing the Giants have to have a letdown. I’ll take the Cowboys -7 to please Jerry Jones and have this wrapped up by the start of the 4th quarter.
You guessed it – the Kirk Cousins primetime jinx continues despite his hot play. I’m not super confident in the Pats on the road in this short-week scenario, but I do like New England to cover +3.5.
I have a funny feeling that Mississippi State might take this rivalry for the first time in a few years, so I’ll take Mississippi State +4 on the college pigskin side.
My favorite college hoops play is perfectly timed – it’s a late game but not Gonzaga late. At 10:30 pm ET just as the football is winding down, let’s go with Over for total points in Alabama vs Michigan State being played in a neutral site tournament game in Portland, Oregon. So random you have to have a play for it!
Consider this your last call on a Thanksgiving day squares pool that everyone can get in on – Get it Going Here!