No pretense here today. This is your way to escape from your crazy aunt while still impressing your high school sports playing cousin with all of your sports knowledge. It's your Thanksgiving Viewing Guide, and it has more on it than just football.
Football does take precedence though, so let's start with the Packers visiting the Lions (12:30, CBS). The Cheeseheads are still missing Aaron Rodgers, though the Prodigal Son Matt Flynn has returned to keep the NFC North in limbo. His return saw Flynn take over for Scott Tolzien and lead a comeback to tie the Vikings at 26, and his first start comes against the same team that earned him millions with the Seahawks, Raiders, and Bills. The Lions secondary was responsible for Flynn's Packer record 480 yards and 6 touchdowns, and they aren't much better this year. Avoid your aunt by saying you have to go watch one of the best players of all time (Calvin Johnson). Impress your cousin by noting that Matt Stafford has the lowest sack rate in football, giving him even more opportunities to throw to the best receiver alive (still Calvin Johnson). Cue the Barry Sanders Highlights.
The afternoon game (4:30, FOX) has the Raiders visiting the Cowboys. This is a game the Cowboys should win by twenty, so there's no way it ends up this easy. Unfortunately this lacks a little viewing quality thanks to Terrelle Pryor being injured, but that should be made up for by the opportunity to see Dez Bryant run rampant on the Raiders' poor secondary. Avoid your aunt by telling her that you want to see if the Cowboys can actually make the playoffs because they're America's Team. Impress your cousin by noting that both quarterbacks in this game were undrafted, with Matt McGloin originally walking on at Penn State and Tony Romo attending D1-AA Eastern Illinois.
The last respite of the day features the Steelers at the Ravens (8:30, NBC). A Ravens/Steelers win would see them move into the favorite position for the last AFC Wild Card place, though the Ravens/Steelers would only be 6-6 after said win. However, look for the Ravens/Steelers to be anointed as "that team you don't want to play in the playoffs" due to the fact that their quarterbacks have each won the Super Bowl, even though the Ravens/Steelers would likely be massive underdogs in their first playoff game. Avoid your aunt by telling her that you have to watch the best rivalry in football. Impress your cousin by noting that after the Steelers won the Super Bowl in 2010 it was the Ravens who won the division and knocked them out of the playoffs the following year.
If you're willing to sacrifice some quality, there are other sporting events to keep you out of the kitchen for the afternoon.
Purdue @ Oklahoma St. 12:00, ESPN. Marcus Smart turned down being a probable top four pick in last year's NBA draft to go for tournament glory. He's the best player in the country who isn't a freshman (Doug McDermott is second), and watching him in this game should be like watching a man among boys.
Butler @ Washington St. 2:00, ESPN2. Under a new coach Butler is still trying for some of their old magic, and a 4-0 start is showing some promise. You don't know anyone on either team, and this game will be kind of slow, but it should be close in case Packers-Lions turns into a blowout.
Marquette @ Cal State Fullerton 4:30, ESPN2. Marquette had the best conference record in the Big East last year, but they're missing that extra gear so far this year. Look for them to run and gun all over a CSF team that no one knows anything about.
Memphis @ Siena 6:30, ESPN2. The Siena Saints are a couple years removed from being the tournament darlings, and it will likely show today. This Memphis squad is bigger, faster, and stronger, and this is a fun game to watch if you like reckless dribble drives. Consider this your cover for a Cowboys-Raiders blowout.
Iowa @ Xavier 7:00, NBC Sports. This is your other cover for said blowout. Iowa has the better team, ranked 23rd in the country, but Xavier has the better player. Semaj Christon is a fearless gunner in the vein of Tu Holloway and Jordan Crawford, and might be the fastest point guard in America. Catch him if you can.
This should take you through the horrible family portion of the afternoon and well into Thursday Night football. ESPN's family of networks is showing a variety of college basketball games, but the best of the rest of the night is at 11:00 (ESPN2) when Creighton travels to Arizona St. This is your chance to watch the aforementioned Doug McDermott, the best senior in the country who also reminds you a lot of that guy you played against at that open gym that one time. He's really good. Trust me.
There you go, sports all day. What more can you ask for?