BY MIKE WOLVERTON SPORTS GUY When it comes to sports, I almost always fall into the “traditionalist” camp. And, truly, I like the tradition of Detroit and Dallas hosting Thanksgiving Day games. But there is no disputing that it is an unfair advantage. Every year, Dallas gets a 9-day layoff coming into the season’s stretch drive. Usually their game after Thanksgiving will be against a team on six days of rest. This is an advantage, and so is the fact that the Cowboys are at home for the Thanksgiving game. This means that their opponent on short rest must travel to Dallas, while the Cowboys are at least at home and can prepare a bit. Yes, there are seven other Thursday games in 2009, so other teams enjoy this advantage as well. But the current Thanksgiving “tradition” gives the Lions and Cowboys an entrenched edge, year in, year out. It should stop, the games should be rotated among all teams.
Staying on the Thanksgiving topic, the Lions frequently play their division foes on Turkey Day. They play an AFC team every other year (for TV-related reasons), and an NFC team in odd-numbered years. Twelve of the last thirteen times they’ve lined up against an NFC team, it has been in-division (Packers 6, Bears 4, Vikings 2 and the Falcons snuck in there in 2005). Thus those NFC North teams are benefiting from the 9-day-layoff advantage (particularly Green Bay). Over the same span, the Cowboys have played NFC East teams only 5 of 13 times. The Eagles have played the Cowboys on Thanksgiving once in the 44 seasons since Dallas started hosting the game in 1966 (it was in 1989, a 27-0 Eagles whitewashing in which Reggie White was the recipient of the first ever “Turkey Leg Award,” which was, of course, an actual turkey leg). Not allowing other teams in the Cowboys’ division to enjoy the same advantage that Dallas gets gives the Cowboys even more of an edge. THE NFL FAVORS THE COWBOYS!! The ‘Boys are good for ratings after all, might as well help them out!
On to Sunday. The Eagles won, and it wasn’t easy. It is good to see them winning late instead of figuring out how to lose late (see: Dallas game). Next week at Atlanta becomes a key game, a chance for the Eagles to bury the Falcons (currently one game back of the Birds in the wildcard chase). That would leave only the Giants within striking distance of keeping the Igs out of the playoffs, and the Eagles will play in New York the following week. And check out the Cowboys’ last five games, they are brutal, putting the NFC East title up for grabs.The Colts are 11-0 and the Saints are 10-0, but it doesn’t seem like a big deal. I guess this is the hangover from the Patriots’ 16-0 season in 2007. If not for that, every week we’d have to read/hear/watch story after story about “Can they do it?” So there is at least one positive to come from all those New England wins.
One of the most amazing things about this season is that Jake Delhomme continues to start at quarterback for the Panthers. Carolina was the #2 seed in the NFC last year, but Delhomme’s five interceptions derailed them in their playoff game against the Cardinals. This year, the 34-year old Delhomme has 8 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Is backup Matt Moore really that unprepared to play? It’s hard to believe it can go on. And speaking of awful quarterbacks, when will the Bears make up an injury so they can save face while they pull the plug on Jay Cutler? I’m guessing Cutler will strain his back sometime this week, doing yardwork or playing with his nephews. I’m also fairly certain that the Bears would happily trade him back to Denver with a bunch more draft picks just to get Kyle Orton back.