NFL Week 12 Theme Picks: Fans Should Be Thankful For What We Have
The Detroit Lions began playing on Thanksgiving Day in 1934
It's Thanksgiving and time for everyone to be thankful for whatever they have, great or small. As fans of the NFL, we have a lot to be thankful for and most of it has nothing to do with football.
The things that we should be most thankful for are God, our families and the love for and of others. We should, also, be thankful for today, because it is the present and a gift from God that should be cherished. Everything else in life is secondary. We hear the sports talking heads talk about perspective whenever something they consider tragic happens. They can save themselves a lot of breath by simply saying the first two lines of this paragraph.
Okay, I'm going to step down off of the stump and get back to the humble world of football. This week's theme is what should every team's fans be thankful for? What is the one thing, above else, that their team has done to benefit the league and their city?
Usually, I don't pick Thursday games, but there are just too many on the slate. We have the Houston Texans going to Ford Field to play the Detroit Lions. In the late afternoon game, the Dallas Cowboys host their arch rivals the Washington Redskins. The night game gives us a grudge match between the New England Patriots and New York Jets. In this brief slide show, I will give the two things about the NFL I'm thankful for, then the last three will cover the teams participating in Thursday's games.
This theme will continue with the picks for Sunday's games on Friday.
If you used my picks for monetary purposes (and I suggest you don't), you would have gone 10-2 last week. Ten out of twelve against the spread is almost unheard of. If you took my hint that I'm always wrong about the Jets you went 11-1.
After two weeks here, I am 14-10. Not a bad start.
So, be thankful for however much money you have and keep it in your pocket. These picks are just for fun. As usual, the home teams will be in capital letters.
Games and Championships Are Decided on the Field
I am so thankful that NFL games and championships are decided on the field by the men who play. If they were decided by statistics and computers we would always get the same outcome. Instead, we get the human element.
The NFL is not fantasy, it is reality. Fantasy football players say that they own teams. No they don't. They have nothing more than a collection of statistics compiled by men who play for different teams. How can anyone say it is football when the offensive line is not included? Fantasy football is for accountants.
The NFL is about team. It is 11 men trying to win their personal battles play after play for 60 minutes. No matter what the setting or each team's record, the team that scores the most points that day wins. A quote from NFL Films may say it best.
'Football is not a game of statistics, but of men who individually and collectively determine victory or defeat.'
I love the fact that the New England Patriots can go 18-1 and finish second. I love the fact that championship teams are not anointed, but must earn their trophies. I love the fact that power rankings don't mean a thing.
The thing that I am most thankful for is that every NFL game is decided on the field and championships must be earned.
The History of Pro Football
The second thing that I am thankful for is the game's history. The NFL is 92 years old. This is not as old as Major League Baseball, but a long time. If lucky, in 2019, we will all be able to celebrate the games first century.
Football does not have the same lore as baseball, but the NFL has a rich history. The pro football hall of fame and NFL Films do an excellent job of preserving it. It is a good thing that they do, because no one, from the NFL Network to the networks who cover the games, seems to care.
On Thanksgiving, we will see the Detroit Lions play in a tradition which they began in 1934. Thanksgiving Day games had been played before the Lions made it an annual affair. In 1925, the legendary Red Grange made his pro football debut on Thanksgiving for the Chicago Bears.
Since 1920, the game has given us legends and moments that have made it grow to what it is today. To truly understand how far the NFL has come, one needs to read about its history.
It is worth reading and viewing and I am thankful it exists.
Houston Texans -3 vs DETROIT LIONS
Fans of the Texans are happy to have a team after losing the Houston Oilers in 1997. Houston has always considered itself to be the little brother of Dallas. Losing the Oilers while the Cowboys remained in Dallas did not sit well with citizens, especially since Houston was an original member of the AFL.
Texans fans are now happy that their team has built itself into a legitimate championship contender and is 9-1.
Detroit fans are thankful that no matter what their record, they are relevant once a year on Thanksgiving Day. In some seasons, it was the only time that the entire nation got to see hall of fame running back Barry Sanders. For that alone, we should all be thankful.
Games in Detroit have given us the famous massacre in 1962 when the Lions beat a championship Green Bay Packers team 26-14. They have, also, given us O.J. Simpson of the Buffalo Bills rushing for 273 yards in 1976, Dave Williams of the Bears running back the opening kickoff of overtime to beat the Lions in 1980 and the infamous Phil Luckett overtime coin toss in 1998.
DALLAS COWBOYS -3.5 vs Washington Redskins
Fans of the Cowboys should wake up being thankful for hall of fame quarterback Roger Staubach every day. He is the man who made them 'America's Team.'
Sure, it was head coach Tom Landry who built the franchise from scratch in 1960, but it was Staubach who gave the team its identity and led them to their first two championships. The truth is, Landry did not win any championships before Staubach and did not win any after he left.
Redskins fans know all too well about Staubach. He was the thorn in their side in the 1970's. While Washington was trying to get to the top, Staubach and the Cowboys were always keeping them down.
Fans of the Redskins have to be thankful that they may finally have a quarterback in Robert Griffin III. He may be able to take them to the on field heights that Staubach took Dallas. Washington owner Daniel Snyder had better hope so. He should be thankful that after 13 years of mediocrity, the Redskins fan base has remained loyal.
New England Patriots -6.5 vs NEW YORK JETS
The New England Patriots were the last of the original AFL teams to win a championship. It took them 41 years to do it. Since then, they have made it to four more Super Bowls and won two. Patriot fans are thankful for head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, but the man whom they should thank every day is owner Robert Kraft.
Kraft was a former season ticket holder who bought the team in 1994. By 1996 they were in the Super Bowl. Before Kraft, New England played in a terrible stadium out in the middle of nowhere. Now, they play in a great stadium in the middle of nowhere. Most important, they have three Vince Lombardi trophies in their showcase.
The Jets and pro football should be thankful for hall of fame quarterback Joe Namath. He made the AFL relevant by signing a record $400,000 contract in 1965. Then, he won the only relevant game in Jets history, Super Bowl III. New York has not done much of anything since, except watch the cross town Giants win four world's championships.
The only person who seems to make the Jets matter in January and February hasn't played a game for them since 1976.
p.s. I always get Jets games wrong.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and be thankful for what you have.