• Wagers & Lagers 2015 Week 12: Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

    This week Team W&L tackles all three Turkey Day games, a special featured college contest, Bucs/Colts, 'Phins/Jets and Steelers/Seahawks in yet another week of potential gambling torture. We also cover beer (because, well, obviously) and take a crack at Thanksgiving leftovers.

    Rich is the only one of us over .500. He's clinging to a one-game lead over Matt. I am five games off the lead and steadily bringing up the rear.

    Enjoy the holiday, peeps.


    Eagles @ Lions—PK
    12:30, Detroit, Mich.—FOX

    RG: The wine is coming out early. Can we just watch highlights of Night Train Lane and Steve Van Buren? Okay, fine, Norm Van Brocklin and Bobby Layne. Chip Kelly's team is coming apart at the seams and he may want to put in that application to LSU once Les Miles gets bought out. The Lions have covered during the last three Thanksgiving games and just tend not to cover when the opponent is really good. They got trounced by the 15-1 Packers four years ago and the 14-2 Patriots five years ago. The Eagles do not resemble anything good right now. PICK: Lions

    MK: You don't even need a reason to watch highlights of Night Train Lane. Chip Kelly is a very smart man and an excellent football coach on the chalk board or white board or iPad or whatever proprietary tablet the NFL has an exclusive contract with right now, and I don't want to take that away from him. Is anyone surprised by how this season is going, though, after turning over more or less the entire roster within the space of a year or two? Bad teams do that, guys, and usually when they do it, they stay bad. I imagine Jim Caldwell is wondering what it's going to take to get him an interview at a place like Iowa State, at this point. PICK: Lions

    PS: Detroit's defense has come alive the last two weeks. Ziggy Ansah is getting better every game. Same goes for Darius Slay (who locked down Amari Cooper last week, BTW). Teryl Austin has undoubtedly studied his Lions history. He clearly understands - despite all the tough talk coming from the Fords - his path of least resistance to becoming an NFL HC is to outcoach his boss. The Leos are going to eat Mark Butt-Fumble alive. Smart money leaves this one for the suckers. We do not have such luxury.PICK: Lions

    Panthers @ Cowboys—PK, O/U 46
    4:00, Arlington, Tex.—CBS

    RG: I've seen this as Cowboys -1 in some places. I just don't get it. Even with Romo back, I have a lot of confidence in Cam Newton's ability to rise to the occasion. I think the offenses will have a slight advantage with the short week. PICK: Panthers, Over

    MK: I agree that this line has a funny smell. With the exception of last season, every Thanksgiving game since the 2010 contest has been decided by one touchdown or less, but since Tony Romo took control of the starting job in 2006, Dallas is 6-3-0 SU on the holiday and 5-4-0 ATS, although the Cowboys are ATS losers of their last four. Still, I think, when we're picking games involving undefeateds, we're all kind of looking for that moment when they might fall, and this seems like a really obvious one for Carolina. PICK: Cowboys, Over

    PS: Statement game for Carolina. Run the ball. Play good defense. Win late. Close. PICK: Panthers, Under

    Bears @ Packers (-9.5)
    8:30, Green Bay, Wisc.— NBC

    RG: The Bears are not going to win this game, but the Packers seem to be getting 2 to 2.5 points every week just because they might be the second-most popular public team in the league (New England). Here's the funny thing, though. The Bears have not beaten or covered against Aaron Rodgers since 2011. That is 9 straight times, with the last cover coming on January 2 of 2011 during a final week 10-3 Packers win where they were favored by 10.5. The Packers average margin of victory in those games has been 14.11 points. Throw in that Green Bay is retiring Favre's number and I start to think this line is correct. PICK: Packers

    MK: Have we considered that maybe the Packers are this year's bad good team? If I'm not mistaken, according the Simmons theory, this is the good team that you can reliably bet against when they're scheduled against another quality opponent. I know they controlled a game against Minnesota, but I think we'd all put Minnesota in the second tier of contenders right now, and it might be that the Packers are the bad good team of the first tier. Anyway, I'm not watching this game. PICK: Packers

    PS: The Bears have been much better of late. This will not matter. PICK: Packers


    Texas Tech @ Texas (-2)
    7:30, Austin, Tex.—FS1

    RG: This is a thrown in for our colleagues at Tailgating and because Matt is the handsomest Red Raider on the FP staff. Texas has come on late and it seems as if the Red Raiders defense refuses to even practice defense. Still, I have to figure that their offense can figure things out enough that they can overcome what I think is an inferior opponent. PICK: Texas Tech

    MK: Thanks, Rich. Texas playing on Thanksgiving is a tradition on par with the Cowboys or Lions hosting a game each season. While the practice had fallen off a bit from the mid-'90s, Texas and Texas A&M played each other on Thanksgiving for the first time in 1901 and faced off on the fourth Thursday in November most years between the end of World War I and the Bicentennial. Due to conference realignment and A&M's move to the SEC, the Longhorns host a Turkey Day game every year, playing Texas Tech in odd-numbered years and Texas Christian in the opposite seasons; why the Longhorn must host the game is beyond my powers of understanding, but I'm in very good company by not getting some of the decisions that the Big XII conference makes.

    Texas is favored in this game simply because they are Texas and because Texas Tech is not outstanding. Still, the Red Raiders have six wins and are bowl-eligible, while Charlie Strong's Longhorns will need to beat both Tech and Baylor just to qualify. Texas has won the last six in the series over Texas Tech, since Michael Crabtree's dramatic catch and run to knock Colt McCoy's top-ranked Longhorns in Lubbock in 2008. Considering the size of the spread, we basically have to treat this as a pick 'em. The Longhorns run the ball relatively well, averaging 213.9 per game on the ground (good for 24th nationally) and against an atrocious Texas Tech defensive front, I'd expect them to beat that number; the problem, though, is they're in the bottom ten nationally in passing yards per game and the defense isn't, you know, good. Texas Tech is known for basketball on grass—and they do throw for almost 400 yards per game and score 46.0 points per night—but they're secretly a very good running team, too, and only 20 yards per game and ten spots behind Texas in the national statistical rankings. I like Kliff Kingsbury's boys to end the drought and send Texas on the path to 4-8, where we all kind of thought they'd be before they teased us with an upset of Oklahoma.

    Oh, and the total in this game is a pretty modest 72 or 72.5, so I'd take the over. PICK: Texas Tech

    PS: Go Red Raiders? Go Red Raiders. PICK: Texas Tech


    Bucs @ Colts (-3)
    1:00, Indianapolis, Ind.—FOX

    RG: I am desperately trying not to go 0-9 on this Thanksgiving. I think the key to doing that this year is to pick an absolutely crazy game that makes no sense. The Bucs are legitimately playing better and the Colts just aren't a great team. They don't beat the Falcons last week without two horrible interceptions by Matt Ryan. While Winston is capable of the same bad decisions, I am rooting a bad divisional race for the AFC South. Pick: Bucs

    MK: If I'm getting points to bet against the Colts, I'm smiling and taking those points. PICK: Bucs

    PS: This is one of those spots where I am supposed to go against the grain. I really wish I had a hook, here, but... Screw it. I'm game. PICK: Colts

    Dolphins @ Jets (-3.5), O/U 42.5
    1:00, East Rutheford, N.J.—CBS

    RG: I like the Dolphins here for the same reason I did in "Blitz Picks." These teams always split the season series, so I even like Miami straight here. However, I do actually love getting the extra half point in this game as the dog. PICK: Dolphins, Over

    MK: The Jets' star has fallen a bit recently, but the Bills really wanted that game for Ryan and the Texans are playing with some outsized confidence at the moment. Either way, I think this is a low-scoring divisional game. PICK: Dolphins, Under

    PS: I am done having faith in Miami. PICK: Jets, Under

    Steelers @ Seahawks (-5.5)
    4:25, Seattle, Wash.—CBS

    RG: I have to like the Seahawks at home some time this season. However, I think Roethlisberger is going to have a good game and I am wondering just how good the Seahawks actually are. PICK: Steelers

    MK: Marshawn Lynch isn't going to play. The Seahawks defense will have to play well for more than five minutes' worth of football in order to beat Pittsburgh at all, let alone by nearly a touchdown. We've all heard that Russell Wilson's record in games in which the Seahawks allow more than 24 is pretty bad, and the Steelers have scored 30 or more three of the six games in which Ben Roethlisberger has had significant snaps. I'm not saying Seattle can't win, but they're not covering this. PICK: Steelers

    PS: What Rich & Matt said. PICK: Steelers


    Ravens @ Browns (-1)
    8:30, THE Factory of Sadness, Cleveland, Ohio—ESPN

    RG: Johnny Manziel, ahem, Josh McCown will shrug off the latest TMZ reports to get another victory at home. Plus, if the Cleveland defense cannot control THIS Ravens offense, Jim O'Neill probably doesn't deserve to be the DC of a NFL team. Plus, the Browns are 4-1 ATS the spread this season versus teams with a losing record. However, they are also 1-4 ATS in their last five as a home favorite. I still think Cleveland can pull this one out.PICK: Browns

    MK: Jim O'Neill should have been fired about a month and a half ago because he probably isn't capable of properly laying out a hotel breakfast buffet—I mean, I'm not even talking about one with self-operated waffle irons or an omelet station, because either of those would probably lead to a fire that would make the Great Chicago Fire look like a couple of errant firecrackers—let alone be responsible for an NFL defense. O'Neill still has a job, but when the team is playing one game in twenty four days, the quarterback takes a day off and has a drink, so... he gets demoted to third string? I'm not saying Johnny is good, or that he's going to be good, but I am saying—as a fan, as a Clevelander in exile who's followed this team for years—that I've had it with your s---, Brownies. I'm sick of taking about this miserable franchise that's apparently willing to go to the mattresses and treat an adult like a goddamn high school kid who got caught sneaking into his parents' liquor cabinet, but for whom giving up 24 points in eight consecutive games—and 30 or more in five of them—with the highest paid defense in the NFL is not a problem. In spite of all that, you might win, you should win, and you probably will win to sweep the Ravens in the season series for the first time since 2007. It's not me, guys, it's you, and I'm willing to take this L, if need be, to prove my point. PICK: Ravens

    PS: Make the world a better place. Punch Johnny Football in the face. That said... PICK: Browns


    MK: I don't know about any of you, but when I cook Thanksgiving dinner, or a dinner for any large group of people that requires any sort of meaningful or sustained effort at all, at the end of the time in the kitchen, all I want to do sit down, have a drink or maybe a smoke, and just not say or do or eat anything. Which kind of defeats the point of the holiday, doesn't it? A friend of mine said this last night, and I think he's got it right, that the only thing about a Thanksgiving meal that might make me happy is the knowledge that I'll get to make a real turkey sandwich because of all this work. That's a lot just to get a sandwich, but I'm going to give you two iterations of the Leftover Turkey Sandwich, depending on your level of investment in the turkey and the sandwich.
    Carved Turkey
    Rye Bread Sourdough
    Yellow Mustard Good, Dijon Mustard
    Good bacon (or ham)
    Cheddar Cheese Gruyere Cheese
    Cucumber (optional) Butter

    Both of these are pretty self-explanatory, right? For the cold sandwich, you need to make a decision about bacon or ham, but you spread your sauces on the bread and assemble the sandwich and enjoy; for the hot, you do the same, but you butter the outside of the sourdough—because, God, it is just such a waste to eat sourdough and not grill it beforehand, isn't it?—and toast it in a pan until it's golden brown. Yeah, you can sub in and out some cheeses or whatever (Swiss, Gouda, whatever), or add lettuce if you enjoy that on sandwiches, but enjoy the reward of the leftover sandwich before some person who didn't cook picks the carcass clean by Saturday night.

    Oh, and as a P.S., you can make really nice, no hassle turkey stock by:

    --Picking the bird of the accessible, worthwhile meat;
    --Cramming it into a pot with two quarts' worth of vegetable stock, an onion or two, a couple carrots and celery, a few cloves of garlic, some bay leaves, maybe the leftover fresh thyme from preparing the turkey, and a bunch of salt and black pepper;
    --bringing it a boil and simmering it for a few hours;
    --and straining it, and then following your own recipe for a turkey/chicken noodle soup.

    PS: The Leftover Turkey Sandwich - in any incarnation - is a thing of utter beauty.

    I'm with you, Matt. When I finally present the feast , I am sooooo not ready to eat. A good cook tastes as he goes. Once I drop the bird and trimmings on the table, I am pretty well spent and have full a belly. Eating is the last thing on my mind. But, come Friday? This guy is ready for a Leftover Turkey Sandwich.

    I go one of two ways;

    Cold: Simple. Good old-fashioned American white bread, Iceberg lettuce and Hellman's Mayonnaise. No impostors allowed. Gotta have the real deal mayo. A nice 50/50 mix of white and dark meat and a kiss of S&P. This is my go to sammy.

    Warm: Hoagie roll, white & dark meat, scoop of stuffing/dressing, scoop of spuds, kiss of gravy and smoky cheese layered up and baked until the cheese starts to melt. Add a spoonful of cranberry relish or two and get your grind on.


    MK: I'm traveling before the holiday and I'm being routed through Nashville on my way to Cleveland later today (as of this writing, which is taking place Wednesday), so I'll probably have a couple of beers in the airport. I'll be drinking something local, so our beer of the week comes from the Music City's Yazoo Brewing Company.

    I'm tapping the Dos Perros Ale. Spanish for 'Two Dogs,' it's a Mexican-inspired, German-derivative that sounds sweet but sturdy enough to get me past the layover and on back home.


    RG: 3-3-2, 42-41-2 overall
    MK: 3-3-2, 41-42-2 overall
    PS: 2-4-2, 37-46-2 overall

    Comments 22 Comments
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      Well, you think the Eagles might fire Chip at the Detroit airport?
    1. Nancy's Avatar
      Can I just say that I hate these color rush uniforms with every fiber of my being? Got the bird in the oven, a cosmo in my hand and ready for some football....but I don't like this situation for the Panthers. Oh....so Coleman just took Romo's pass to the house. Well, never mind. Mr. Svedka and I are happy now.

      Nice work by the Lions earlier....when did Chip Kelley stop being a genius?
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Nancy View Post
      Can I just say that I hate these color rush uniforms with every fiber of my being? Got the bird in the oven, a cosmo in my hand and ready for some football....but I don't like this situation for the Panthers. Oh....so Coleman just took Romo's pass to the house. Well, never mind. Mr. Svedka and I are happy now.

      Nice work by the Lions earlier....when did Chip Kelley stop being a genius?
      From the congregation, I think it's time for an AMEN.

    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      Chip Kelly is a smart man. Giving him control over personnel after two years in the NFL was a gigantic mistake. People forget that someone as brilliant as Bill Belichick fell flat on his face running personnel and coaching during his first stint in Cleveland.
    1. Amy's Avatar
      I agree with Matt. Chip is a fine coach and a very smart football guy. He just wasn't ready for personnel decisions in the NFL. Let's not forget that some people who only do personnel decisions - Matt Millen and Ryan Grigson are good examples - aren't good at it either. One off year is not a good enough reason to move on from a coach who has multiple winning seasons.

      The best example of this is the Steelers. 3 coaches in my lifetime. Sustained success even with off years mixed in.
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Matt Kocsan View Post
      Well, you think the Eagles might fire Chip at the Detroit airport?
      I know the media is all over the Eagles firing Chip Kelly (especially with all the openings in college) and the Eagle fan base seems really irritated about how things are going this year, but I just don't see it after one year. The Eagles basically gave Kelly full control of player personnel and he put in his people. Are they really going to get rid of Chip Kelly and start over again by bringing in a new GM and a new coach? That just doesn't make sense to me. I don't think you can say this is a failure and move on after one year.
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      I'd like to thank Jason Garrett for getting me the over.
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      There's plenty of wind and rain in Austin tonight, so we're at 0-0 after a quarter.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Matt Kocsan View Post
      I'd like to thank Jason Garrett for getting me the over.
      frickin cowboys....
    1. Amy's Avatar
      Romo re-broke his collarbone. He's done for the year.
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Matt Kocsan View Post
      There's plenty of wind and rain in Austin tonight, so we're at 0-0 after a quarter.
      The final in Tech--UT was 48-45, so... there was never a doubt on the over, obviously. Texas Tech wins, so give us all a point, and give me my first win against Texas since I started my MA at Texas Tech in 2009. Oy.
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      ...and we all miss on the Packers. Picked the wrong spot to go against the grain, maybe.
    1. Nancy's Avatar
      The problem with the Kelly situation is that is doesn't matter whether or not he's a good coach at this point. The media turned him into the second coming, couldn't STFU about him and his hurry up offense (like we've never seen that before), and now that it's all gone down the toilet, they can't shut up about the Eagles being terrible and how Kelly should be fired. It's all just worn very thin....the expectations for a first time coach were over the top, and the Eagles were foolish to hand complete control over to a man who hasn't yet proven that he can be successful in the position for which they initially hired him. I don't think the Eagles should fire him, but they might should hire a GM. I hear Ryan Grigson might be available soon.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Man, the Scrams just cannot get out of their own way.
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      I'm so mad I let that half-point talk me into the Dolphins.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Matt Kocsan View Post
      I'm so mad I let that half-point talk me into the Dolphins.
      There is a good reason it's called a 'hook'.

      Oh. And Nick Foles kinda stinks. He just chucked another INT.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      So I'm cooking today. On Thanksgiving Day I was the victim of some serious culinary crime and I feel compelled to right the food universe.

      Sourdough dressing with Bob Evans Savory Sage sausage, onions, celery, diced red pepper, hearts of palm, pimentos, diced Honeycrisp apple and dried cherries.

      Green bean casserole my way (I despise canned cream of mushroom soup, it looks like bat guano and tastes like ****). Cream of celery soup, sour cream instead of milk, fresh green beans, fresh sliced mushrooms, one clove garlic (pasted) and black pepper topped with French's Fried Onions (obviously).

      Cranberry relish made from scratch (whole cranberries, fresh squeezed orange juice, brown sugar, fresh basil, orange zest, pinch or two of S&P all reduced by half then hit with a potato masher.

      Smashed roasted garlic potatoes (typical).

      Small bird open roasted, basted with butter until golden brown.I do not ever stuff my turkey. I brine it in water, salt, sugar and aromatics like celery leaves, sliced oranges, fresh thyme and sage, a couple cloves garlic, etc. I put all the post-brined aromatics in the cavity before the turkey goes in the oven.

      Pan gravy (also typical)

      Sweet Potato Pie from a local bakery (me and baking are not friends). Fresh whipped cream, too.

      Happy Holidays, humans.
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      Osweiler's numbers look ugly, but he looks pretty decent.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Heading into MNF, here is where we stand (I think):

      RG: 5-4-0, 47-45-2 overall
      MK: 3-6-0, 44-48-2 overall
      PS: 5-4-0, 42-50-2 overall
    1. Amy's Avatar
      Thank goodness.

      Gronk just has a bruised knee. He's week to week, but it's nothing major.