Well, it’s Thanksgiving week, and the Buffalo Bills are coming off a bye. Unfortunately, Matt Patricia thought the Detroit Lions also had a bye, so he didn’t bother showing up to prepare his team this week. It’s not that there’s any shame in losing to the Carolina Panthers, but they were playing without Christian McCaffrey and Teddy Bridgewater. Seriously, Matt, you just got waffle stomped by a team starting a former XFL quarterback.
But I digress. The purpose of this Outsider article is to encourage gratitude. It’s the time of year when we should all take a minute to realize all the many things we have to be thankful for. In light of the pandemic, I know a great many of us will be grateful for good health this year in a way we never have before. As sports fans, we have a little extra to be thankful for this year as well. This past summer, we didn’t know if we’d even have an NFL season to enjoy and to take our minds off of the difficulties and challenges in our world.
Bills fans, you have much to be thankful for in your team. Your team is 7-3, in first place in the AFC East, and closing in on a second consecutive playoff berth. Your starting quarterback has turned himself into an MVP-level player. The Dolphins lost, the Patriots are floundering, and the Jets are determined to go 0-16. Oh, and your head coach isn’t Matt Patricia.
Three Unbiased Opinions
1) The Bills Will Win the Division.
The Dolphins finally lost a game yesterday, and it was exactly what the Bills needed. Four of Buffalo’s final six games are against teams with losing records. Miami plays three teams with winning records and has a really tough closing stretch (Chiefs, Patriots, Raiders, Bills). The Bills also currently have the tiebreaker over Miami with their head to head win in Week 2 and have the better division record at 4-0 (Miami is 1-2). There’s still work to be done, but I’d much rather be sitting where the Bills are than where the Dolphins are.
If things go south and the Bills lose the division, they’re still set up nicely for the playoffs. Teams that have started the year 7-3 make the playoffs 84% of the time. Beat the Chargers this coming weekend, and that probability jumps to 92%.
2) Josh Allen Finishes 3rd in the MVP Race
I would love to see Josh Allen win the 2020 NFL MVP. I think it would be one of the great MVP storylines of the past 20 years. Not since Kurt Warner left Piggly Wiggly for the NFL in 1999 would there be such a surprise winner. While he’s not currently the favorite, it’s not out of the question either. If he continues on his current pace, he’ll end the season with 4,600 yards and 34 TDs. He’s likely to finish with about seven or eight rushing touchdowns as well. If the Bills finish strong and go 12-4, they win their first division title since 1995, and Allen puts up those kinds of stats, then he’d have a legitimate chance.
What’s more likely to happen is Patrick Mahomes winning his second MVP. He’s been lights out again this year, and the Chiefs are 9-1. I see three other contenders: Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady. If the Bucs finish with the top seed in the NFC, you know Brady is going to get some major MVP love. Russell Wilson has fallen behind the pack with his recent turnover problems and the Seahawks struggling to win games. His next four games are as soft as Charmin with the Jets and three NFC East opponents, so don’t count him out just yet. Rodgers is quietly having one of the best seasons of his career, and the Packers only play one team above .500 for the rest of the year, so he’ll likely continue piling up impressive stats and, more importantly, wins.
This might be one of the most intriguing MVP races of the last decade. When it’s all said and done, I think your top 3 are 1) Mahomes, 2) Rodgers, and 3) Allen.
3) The Bills Will Win a Playoff Game
The Bills haven’t won a playoff game since 1995. Trust me, I know how you feel. The Lions last won a playoff game in 1991 when Barry Sanders led them to their only playoff win in the Super Bowl era. Last year’s loss to Houston was a heartbreaker, but the Bills will take the next step this year and win their first playoff game in 25 years. It’s impossible to know who they’d play and how they’d match up, but I think this team has had their sights set on playoff redemption since last season ended. They’re not a perfect team, and a Super Bowl run seems unlikely with the Chiefs and Steelers playing so well. But after several playoff heartbreaks in the last couple of decades, the universe and the football gods owe the Bills some good fortune this year.
One last thing…
Nothing says Thanksgiving like a big ol’ plate of food. Personally, I plan to eat so much that I will be physically unable to move for at least an hour after dinner. Everybody has their own personal favorite Thanksgiving foods, but some are clearly better than others. So, I decided to make a Thanksgiving Food Power Rankings list. Leave a comment with your favorite Thanksgiving dishes!
Thanksgiving Food Power Rankings:
10. Cranberry Sauce
It’s ok, not great, but it’s traditional. Thanksgiving is all about tradition. If you make your own cranberry sauce as we do, it’s pretty good. If you buy the crap out of a can that still looks like the can before you slice it, that’s gross.
Corn by itself is just okay. But corn is a Thanksgiving staple. If you eat your dinner properly, then you mix the corn in with the turkey and mashed potatoes and it becomes an invaluable part of your holiday plate.
8. Green Bean Casserole
This is one of my wife’s favorites, so it has to be included on the list. I had never actually even had green bean casserole until I met my wife, and I have to admit, it’s growing on me.
There’s nothing exceptional about turkey, but you have to have it on Thanksgiving. If you serve ham instead, that’s un-American and you should check yourself. The best part about turkey actually comes the next day. I like to slice it and make some delicious turkey salad sandwiches.
6. Apple Pie
If you prefer pumpkin pie in this spot, that’s okay too. I’m not a big fan of pumpkin pie personally, so I go with apple.
Now, I’m not just talking about random store-bought rolls. If that’s what you do, great. In my house, we make homemade crescent rolls. They’re buttery, fluffy, and delicious.
4. Macaroni and Cheese
There’s never really a bad time for a good mac and cheese. It needs to be creamy with a nice buttery, crunchy top. When it’s done right, it’s a work of culinary art.
This is an overlooked part of the Thanksgiving dinner. No, it’s not technically a dish by itself, but it’s the glue that holds the entire meal together. Gravy absolutely has to be homemade. Every time I’m shopping and I see the display of Heinz jarred gravy, I weep for humanity.
2. Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes have to be near the top, right? You can eat them plain, you can slather them in gravy or butter, or you can mix your turkey and corn into it. They’re delicious of course, but the versatility is what sets them apart.
The best part of the Thanksgiving meal. Please leave the Stove Top stuffing on the shelf this year, and make your own. And please don’t ruin the stuffing by shoving it up your bird. It destroys the beautiful texture of the dish.
I hope you all have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the food, friends, family, and football, but don’t forget to take some time to reflect on the good things and to count your blessings. Most of all, be thankful you’re not a Detroit Lions fan.