I have not been this excited about the smorgasbord of Thanksgiving Day football since…well maybe never. I know that never is a long time, but understand that I grew up a Lions fan and so the Thanksgiving Day game was typically a source of frustration and indigestion in my youth.
As an adult, I have always worked in markets where the local team is home on Thanksgiving, I worked in Michigan (Detroit and Flint) and here in Dallas. I love going to the game on Turkey Day, I don’t mind fighting the traffic or the crowds and these days I take the family to the game so I’m not even missing out on that aspect of the holiday. But this year is special for a couple of reasons – first the Cowboys are better than any of us thought they would be, and secondly this College Football Playoff has really spiced things up.
We start with the Cowboys. If you had told me in September that this game would be for first place in the division, I would have suggested that you were crazy. I had no faith in this team at the beginning of the year. I wasn’t really worried about Tony Romo’s back, I figured after another surgery it would be healthy until it wasn’t. I was more worried about the defense, which was historically bad last year and then lost it’s three best players in the off-season. Give Rod Marinelli credit, he has gotten the most out of these guys, but keep your fingers crossed because this group still worries me. The secondary does not cover people very well, the line does not get consistent pressure on the quarterback and there is little depth left at linebacker. If you are giving thanks today or tomorrow, give thanks for Rolando McClain.
While you are at it, be thankful that someone talked Jerry out of drafting Johnny Football. The way this offensive line was built is just right. Use high draft picks to stock the interior and you get things like 7.5 or 8 seconds of protection for Romo. Next up the Cowboys need to restock the defense in a similar fashion. But first they must get the most out of the players they have. Right now the Cowboys are one of the three or four best teams in the NFC, and these chances don’t come around very often anymore.
If the Cowboys game is the main course, then the TCU/Texas game is the dessert. What fun this proves to be. If TCU wins they keep hope alive to make the final four in the College Football Playoff. If they win big, they enhance their chances since style points seem to matter in the new world order. When Minnesota came from behind to beat Nebraska last week, that strengthened the case for the Frogs. A decisive win over a team like Texas on national TV would be another feather in the cap.
Going into the season we all wondered how the CFP would be. We figured it would be better than the BCS and so far it has been. What I like best is the fact that this TCU game feels like a playoff game even though they are playing a Texas team that is not in the hunt for national glory.
Those are the two games that will have my attention tomorrow. I know there are lots of other games, including the Lions, I will be watching that game too, with a pocket full of Tums.