You don’t need to know what a run pass option or zone read is to keep up the sports talk over Thanksgiving weekend. While not everyone at the table understands what it means when a broadcaster says Draymond Green is securing a screen, The Standard has created a guide to essential sports literacy so you can contribute to the conversation instead of sitting awkwardly in the corner.
Aside from Super Bowl Sunday, no holiday is as closely associated with football as Thanksgiving. The NFL has three games throughout the day: the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions meet at 9:30 am on CBS, the Dallas Cowboys host the New York Giants at 1:30 pm on Fox, and the Minnesota Vikings host New England Patriots end the night with a 5:20 p.m. opener on NBC.
Does it feel like the Lions and Cowboys always play Thanksgiving? It’s because they do! Thanksgiving football has been a tradition in Detroit since 1934, and the Cowboys have been doing so since 1966. The NFL added a third prime-time game in 2006, one with no particular team tied to it.
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Both quarterbacks in the Bills-Lions game are from Northern California. Josh Allen grew up in Firebaugh — yes, the small Fresno County town off Interstate 5 — and Jared Goff, who was born in Novato, went to Marin Catholic and played at Cal.
Watching the Cowboys take on the Giants? Ask your football-loving relatives if they think the Giants are finally coming back to earth. They started 6-1 but have lost two of their last three games, with their only win in that stretch coming against the Houston Texans. Just want to make a general comment? The NFC East, the division in which both the Giants and the Cowboys play, has been a gauntlet run this year. All four teams in the division have track records, even the Washington Commanders, who have been a punch line for years. It’s a far cry from where the division was two years ago; The then-Washington Football Team took first place and made the playoffs with a record loss.
No matter who you’re watching the game with, if you’re not a Cowboys fan, you probably hate America’s Team. Almost every fanbase considers the Cowboys a rival, and they have a large national following. Just saying something like, “The Cowboys won’t win another Super Bowl until Jerry Jones sells the team” is sure to start a fire.
As for the nightcap, no, Tom Brady doesn’t play for the Patriots anymore. He is now in his third season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mac Jones, now in his second season, quarterbacks New England.
If college football is your family’s choice, the lonely Thanksgiving game is the Egg Bowl, the annual end-of-season rivalry between Ole Miss (the common name for the University of Mississippi) and the state of Mississippi. It’s a game that always seems to feature something crazy, whether it’s a player becoming an iconic GIF or a provocative celebration of a penalty being drawn that ends a team’s season.
Other big collegiate games over the weekend will be led by the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry, played Saturday at 9 a.m. and televised on Fox. Those unfamiliar with college football should note that Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud is a big NFL draft pick, as are many of his receivers. Michigan is coached by former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Speaking of the 49ers, they host the injury-plagued New Orleans Saints at 1:25 p.m. Sunday. If you have big Niners fans in your family, ask them if Christian McCaffrey has lived up to their expectations since coming over from Carolina in a trade. If you’re around Raiders fans who have persevered after the team’s move from Oakland to Las Vegas, you can ask them where Josh McDaniels stands in the franchise’s long history of bad head coaching jobs. The Raiders travel to Seattle for a 1:05 game against the Seahawks, a team that both the Raiders and 49ers consider rivals.
The Seahawks played with the Raiders in the AFC West until 2001, when they switched to the NFC and became one of San Francisco’s greatest rivals. They should be one of the worst teams in the league this year after trading quarterback Russell Wilson, but are currently 6-4. Wilson’s new team, the Denver Broncos, is 3-7. A sarcastic “Broncos Country, let’s ride” or “Let’s cook Russ!” will get everyone in your family who hates the Broncos (e.g. Raiders fans) laughing, or an eye roll from Denver fans.
While the Niners are 6-4, the Bay Area’s two biggest college football teams have had far less success. No, the Bay Area isn’t exactly a college football hotspot, but grads are keeping up with Cal and Stanford. If you want to sound smart around a Cal fan, ask him if he thinks Troy Taylor should be the program’s next head coach. Taylor, a Cal grad, has an 11-0 record at Sacramento State this season. Ask the Stanford fan in your life if head coach David Shaw should be in the hot seat. The Cardinal has won just three games this season, although one of those three was against Notre Dame.
Do you have cousins or siblings in high school? Ask them if they know any of the Lincoln or Balboa players in Thursday’s Turkey Day Game, or if they’re friends with anyone on Serra’s roster. The Padres are the highest-ranked team in the Bay Area and will play Mitty for a Central Coast Section (CCS) championship on Friday night.
Is this information overload? Don’t worry. No matter what level of football you watch, you can always tell the coach should call a naked bootlegger. It’s a game where the quarterback rolls to the sideline, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is excitedly yelling “Naked Bootleg!”
The Golden State Warriors aren’t off to the same stellar start as their 2021-22 championship season as they currently sit 9-10 after Wednesday’s 124-107 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. They will host the Utah Jazz on Friday night and then fly to Minnesota to begin a road trip against the Timberwolves.
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While Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are still dropping 3-pointers with the best of them, the Golden State bench has struggled tremendously so young. Ask the Warriors fan at your table if they think Jonathan Kuminga and James Wiseman are the future, or if Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers need to go back to the drawing board.
Whether you’re around Warriors fans, Los Angeles Lakers fans, or supporters of any of the other 28 NBA teams, you can definitely say, “Victor Wembanyama is the future,” and no one will disagree. The 7-foot-2 Frenchman is a virtual lock to being the first pick in next year’s NBA draft.
The United States drew 1-1 with Wales on Monday to open group play and meet England on Friday. It’s the first time the Americans and England have faced each other in a World Cup since 2010, a 1-1 draw in which the only US goal came from an error by British goalkeeper Robert Green.
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Telling a football fan at your Thanksgiving dinner that you prayed for Jordan Pickford to make a mistake like Robert Green is sure to get some recognition, or you can simply comment on the results of the ongoing tournament. Just saying “I can’t believe Germany lost to Japan!” or asking “Did you wake up in time to see Argentina lose to Saudi Arabia?” is enough to give the impression that You know what you’re talking about, or you may be wondering why head coach Gregg Berhalter didn’t bring in Gio Reyna as a substitute when the Americans needed a late goal against Wales.
When you see Team USA, look for the #10 jersey. This is Christian Pulisic, a 24-year-old forward who is hailed as the nation’s best player. Looking for a fun fact to share? Tell your family that at just 23 years old, American Tyler Adams is the youngest ever captain at the World Cup.
A playoff run doesn’t appear to be on the cards for the 2022-23 San Jose Sharks, who sit at 7-12-3 after Wednesday’s 5-8 loss to Seattle Kraken, the league’s newest team. San Jose hosts the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night and the Vancouver Canucks visit on Sunday.
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If you’re at Thanksgiving dinner with a Sharks fan, ask them if they think new general manager Mike Grier should trade Erik Karlsson. The star defender was in tears at the start of the year but is notoriously injury-prone and is already 32 years old. You can also ask the hockey fan in your life if they think Connor Bedard is the next star in the league. He’s expected to be No. 1 overall next year, encouraging some fans to yell at humble teams to “tank hard for Bedard!”
Yes, the World Series ended almost a month ago when the Houston Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies in six games, but the MLB offseason is in full swing. Giants fans will be quick to talk about their team’s pursuit of Aaron Judge, the 6ft 7 hitter who grew up in Linden, San Joaquin County. Judge set a new American League record with 62 home runs this season in the final year of his contract with the New York Yankees, and if he doesn’t stay in the Bronx, the Giants are a possible landing spot. The judge officially met with the Giants earlier this week.
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Go beyond scratching the surface by asking your table what they think the Giants should do at the shortstop. Brandon Crawford is back after a monster 2021 season and will be 36 in January. He has one year left on his contract, which will earn him $16 million in 2023. While still a fan favorite and considered an excellent defender, he struggled on the plate and there are plenty of big shortstops in the open hand. including Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson.
Correa was known to be part of the Astros sign-stealing scandal and played with Houston from 2015-2021 before spending 2022 with the Minnesota Twins. Fans of any baseball team will have opinions to share if they want Correa on their team; his talent is undeniable, but his past with Houston has made him a controversial figure.