Week 11 picks: Thanksgiving choices

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Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

My grandson is learning to talk. It might come as a surprise to some that his first words were not, “Stop the Steal”, or “Attempted Coup”, or “The Big Lie”. Rather, his first words were, “Dada”, “Papa”, “Mama”, “more”, “up”, and “down”. The way I see it, the things he spoke about first were the people and things most important to him. 

Next week is Thanksgiving and when I was younger (?last year?) Thanksgiving choices meant white or dark meat, stuffing or mashed potatoes, cheesecake or pumpkin pie. This year, under current conditions in this country, it means being “correct” or being with people I care about.

Let me explain. Our family’s favorite holiday is, and always has been, Thanksgiving. The food, the football, the parades, and, most important, our family and friends. Our group of family and friends is an eclectic political group. There are Biden supporters, there are Trump supporters. There are some who believe in a vaccine mandate, and friends who will never get the Covid vaccine. There are CNN watchers, and friends who believe Fox News does not go near far enough in their rhetoric. How do we have Thanksgiving like we always have, with some of us believing that we are potentially exposing everyone to a deadly disease, others who demand personal freedoms while keeping everyone happy, and not arguing?

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Where do we turn for guidance? Does anyone have definitive answers? Who are the real “experts” and why has the messaging been so inconsistent? Oh, there are a lot of opinions, but I read somewhere that opinions are like ahhh..noses in that everyone has one. The biggest noses, or loudest opinions, are not always the best. 

And then there’s the holiday itself. Have all family gatherings become like the “Seinfeld” holiday of “Festivus” where everyone gets to air all their grievances, or is this holiday a day to be thankful for what we have? Should we be mad that my just talking grandson is not a Gerber baby, or thankful that he’s healthy and happy? Should I bemoan that I’m not rich or thankful I have everything I need? Should I be mad at my neighbor for blowing all the crap he doesn’t want on his lawn out into the middle of the street so everybody can enjoy the crap he doesn’t want on his lawn, or should I be thankful that he’s a nice guy, and his house is not a drug house? Should all of us complain about what’s going on in Washington D.C. or be thankful our nation’s capital is not Kabul, Damascus, or Baghdad? 

We choose to be thankful over anger or “being right”. We choose people over politics. We choose to remember our inlaws helping us when we needed it and being our friends over their vaccination status. We, like my grandson, choose to remember what’s most important first. We hope to avoid stupid “heat, no light” arguments. We hope there are no alcohol-induced regrettable behaviors. We hope everyone comes to celebrate Thanksgiving and not Festivus.

And so, we are inviting everyone we care about. Some have already told us they are not coming-that’s their choice, we will still love them. We will go on with Thanksgiving.

Starting very early, my wife will fill our home with fragrances that are promises of things to come. People seem to like coming to our house on Thanksgiving and I gotta believe it’s more because of her cooking than my conversations. At 9 a.m., we watch a parade (I don’t even know which one). At 10, I don my Lions’ jersey and prepare to be let down once again. At 1 we watch the Cowboys, and at 4, we eat. After dinner, we clean up and then all go out for a much overrated walk, and then the group breaks into football weary card players or the Thanksgiving Night Football gamewatchers. All the while there is plenty of trash talk and banter. After wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and good night, I will take two Tums and go to bed. My last hope is that it will be the last time my feet touch the floor on Thanksgiving, 2021. A great day.

Unlike my grandson showing me what’s really important, the NFL last week showed only how hard it is to predict anything. The Lions didn’t lose, although both the Lions and the Steelers did their best to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. Fittingly, the game ended in a tie. The Rams got beat up for the second week in a row. The 49ers continued their maddening inconsistency. The Chiefs won, but is that because of the Raiders now annual late season demise? Both Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers looked out of sorts, but, to me, the prospects for a quick and full recovery seem less likely for Wilson. The Browns looked terrible, and as a quarterback, Baker Mayfield does a good job acting in commercials. What’s up with the Chargers? Isn’t Minnesota supposed to lose to good teams? Can Cam Newton lead the Panthers? I don’t know about that, but Olivia Newton-John is an improvement over Sam Darnold. How ‘bout them Cowboys? And on and on. It seems the more I learn the less I know.

Here are this week’s picks against the point spread. Lines are from vegasinsider.com on Tuesday, Nov. 16.

New England Patriots (-7) at Atlanta Falcons The line on this one opened at Patriots -4, so beware.

New Orleans Saints (+1) at Philadelphia Eagles

Green Bay Packers (-2 ½) at Minnesota Vikings

Cincinnati Bengals (-1) at Las Vegas Raiders

Arizona Cardinals (-2 ½) at Seattle Seahawks This one opened Seattle -2, and has moved 4 ½ points Arizona’s way. I think this is because Murray and Hopkins will both probably be back, the licking Arizona took last week, and how poor Russell Wilson looked throwing the ball. I think, if Wilson can’t throw any better than that, the Seahawks should let Geno cook, even though the menu is limited to frozen pizza.  

Los Angeles Chargers (-6) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers This one opened at Chargers -3, but obviously, the public isn’t buying Pittsburgh.

Last week 4-1

Season 29-26

Robert’s picks

Air Force (+1 ½) at Nevada: One more time to the well with Air Force, and it probably won’t be the last. It’s a given that the Falcons should be able to run the ball effectively against Nevada, and it’s likely that Nevada gets 300 plus passing yards from Carson Strong and probably a big play or two to Romeo Doubs. But after the late heartbreak at San Diego St., it’s not a given that we’ll see the best the Wolf Pack has to offer.

Boston College (-1 ½) over Florida St.: Phil Jurkovec’s return for BC has the Eagles looking like they did in the early part of the season, and Florida St. is ripe for a letdown after their win over Miami last week.

Cal (-1 ½) over Stanford: Cal’s last game was postponed because a bunch of players tested positive for COVID-19, a week after they were shorthanded against Arizona. But all indications are that they will be all hands on deck this week. Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee may return from an injury for this game. He’s a freshman with legitimate NFL potential, but the Cardinal can’t run the ball, and can’t stop the run and I’m expecting the Bears to bring home the Axe.

Baylor (pk) at Kansas St.: The obvious concern with Baylor is a letdown after beating Oklahoma last week, and it’s a legitimate concern, since their two losses were after big wins against Iowa St., which was ranked 14th, and Texas. But the Bears have an excellent defense and should be able to limit the one-dimensional Kansas St. offense, which stalls when it can’t control the line of scrimmage.

Ravens (-4 ½) at Bears: I know the Ravens have a terrible record as a favorite this season, with straight up losses to the Raiders, Bengals and Dolphins as favorites, and they needed an NFL record field goal to beat the Lions. But I like good teams coming off embarrassing losses, especially when they had a couple extra days off, like the Ravens did.

Cowboys (+2 ½) at Chiefs: I’m not convinced that wins over the Packers without Aaron Rodgers and a collapsing Raiders team mean the Chiefs have solved their woes. The Cowboys bring a much different dynamic than those teams, and can match the Chiefs big play for big play.

Last week

College 4-0

NFL 2-0

Season

College 21-17

NFL 11-9

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