Welcome to Thanksgiving in The Student of the Game‘s NFL Matchup Mania. In this week’s episode, we bring you the menu for the coming week leading into the holiday with which American football is most intertwined. This week’s games will present a dish on the Turkey day table while also being the most appropriate to put on to escape your family if stuff goes down.
New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
A game featuring a franchise dubbed “America’s Team” is off to a good start for this season hosting a squad associated with the nation’s largest media market who are themselves overachieving. Add in the fact that Dallas is a team that traditionally plays on the 4th Thursday of November for the holiday, and what other game can better be the meat of the Thanksgiving slate?
It seems that Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy and Giants head coach Brian Daboll both understand that their running games and defenses are and should be the main attraction for their teams. However, if McCarthy’s offensive game plan strays from that or the Giants can’t figure out Dallas’s defense, this game could itself become a turkey really quick. Barring that, this contest has the chance to season your holiday feast to perfection by offering some of the finest divisional rivalries that the NFC East has to offer.
New England Patriots vs. Minnesota Vikings
With New England heading to Minnesota to do battle in Minneapolis, this game reminds me of Thanksgiving stuffing. You keep hearing about all the different ingredients surrounding this dish but no one can really tell you how good it is or isn’t and depending on the time of day, people might even change their minds about it. Yet, you still find it an essential part of what’s being served as part of the holiday feast.
Sometimes people put clams or seafood in their stuffing for a salty flavor, which accounts for the Bostonian presence associated with the dish. Meanwhile, Minnesotans are represented by the fact that if the dish is served after 8:00 pm, everyone is going to have ordered a “Juicy Lucy” by then and probably have had a better experience. In short, it’s Patriots head coach Bill Belichick scheming against the offense led by Viking quarterback Kirk Cousins in a primetime game that will be the driving factor for this games outcome.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Washington Commanders
Considering how much potential playoff impact in the NFC this game could have, it should be symbolized by a dish that is a staple of the table at Thanksgiving, but not necessarily one that is complicated to make. That dictates this game as mashed potatoes. It’s made of peeled potatoes and literally beaten into a mash. But how it hits your tongue can turn how that part of the meal is going in either direction immediately.
With plays from quarterbacks like Marcus Mariota and Taylor Heinicke as the feature in this game, it is reasonable to expect it to be something out of a box that was frozen and undercooked where a kitchen disaster ruined the gravy to prevent it from being even remotely palatable.
However, both Atlanta and Washington have either hung around in, or won, games where they had no business doing either. Meaning that this pairing is just as likely to have the smoothness of homemade gold with sour cream as well as gravy with the correct thickness and ideal flavor of proper spice.
These teams within this game and its conference standing implications are simple, unpredictable, yet essential…just like mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving.