Don’t know about you, but I sure can think of one thing to be thankful for as the sports world barrels forward into a new week.
It can be summed up in three little words, my friends. Three blissful, delightful, liberating little words.
No Bears game.
Can I get an amen from the congregation?
While Nick Foles heals, Mitch Trubisky ponders the possibility of a second (third? fourth?) chance, Allen Robinson wonders what he ever did to anybody to deserve this and Matt Nagy locks himself in the bathroom and gazes longingly at his old play-calling sheet, football games will go on.
Sunday will bring wall-to-wall playoff implications to our living rooms, with the Titans-Ravens, Packers-Colts and Chiefs-Raiders matchups all meaning a great deal. And Thursday? Enjoy a side of turkey with that Thanksgiving triple-header: Texans-Lions, Redskins-Cowboys, Ravens-Steelers.
Notre Dame plays another biggie, this one Friday at North Carolina. The Tar Heels are so dangerous offensively, charming old coach Mack Brown might as well have circa-2005 Vince Young running the show.
The point here is, football goes on without the massively struggling Bears. And let’s just be honest about it: Phew! It’s kind of nice not to have to watch and suffer through three hours of death by dink-and-dunk.
“I think the No. 1 thing we’ve got going for us right now is we’re into the bye,” Nagy said after the Bears’ fourth straight loss.
Nailed it. And here’s what’s happening:
Falcons at Saints (noon, Fox-32)
Other than 565 touchdown throws and upward of 80,000 passing yards, what does injured Saints quarterback Drew Brees really have that backup Taysom Hill doesn’t? The Falcons, meanwhile, have sneakily stopped being horrendous, winning three of their last four.
Titans at Ravens (noon, Ch. 2)
Two of the AFC’s six — six! — 6-3 teams go at it. At least two of those six squads are going to miss the playoffs, you know.
Liverpool vs. Leicester City (1:15 p.m., NBCSN)
Leicester sits atop the Premier League table, but Liverpool is hungry. Then again, who isn’t? And is it too early in the week to begin drinking gravy?
Packers at Colts (3:25 p.m., Fox-2)
The Colts seem to be hitting their stride, while the Packers are kind of just getting by. Yes, that’s another way of putting “coasting to the NFC North title.”
Chiefs at Raiders (7:20 p.m., Ch. 5)
The defending Super Bowl champs are 8-1, but that “1” is thanks to the Raiders. The good news for the Chiefs is QB Patrick Mahomes has been so busy shooting commercials since Week 5, he doesn’t even remember taking that “L.”
Rams at Buccaneers (7:15 p.m., ESPN)
Tom Brady has a career record of 18-7 on Monday nights. Only 25 appearances on “MNF” for the GOAT? That’s surprisingly few considering his first handful weren’t even televised in color.
“Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” (9 p.m., HBO)
An intriguing segment will examine the growing use of psychedelic drugs by retired athletes who are seeking relief from all kinds of problems. Not to make light, but maybe a hallucination or two would help Bears coaches with their play calling?
Texans at Lions (11:30 a.m., Ch. 2)
The only thing more American than apple pie, the seventh-inning stretch or a contested election? Watching the Lions lose on Turkey Day.
Washington at Cowboys (3:30 p.m., Fox-32)
It’ll have special meaning not to have a certain nickname uttered on this holiday, and that’s no joke.
Ravens at Steelers (7:20 p.m., Ch. 5)
Just how great are these 9-0 Steelers, anyway? More important: How many yards can Lamar Jackson run in the time it takes the average person to spell out R-O-E-T-H-L-I-S-B-E-R-G-E-R?
Nebraska at Iowa (noon, Fox-32)
These schools would have us believe they’re bitter rivals. Their game has its own day most years and everything. Tell you what, Huskers and Hawkeyes — get better and then we’ll talk.
Notre Dame at North Carolina (2:30 p.m., Ch. 7)
The Tar Heels are piling up 563.4 yards per game of offense. Do you realize how many that is? (Stop me before I repeat myself.) Hey, just keep winning and that playoff thing is going to happen for the Irish.
Minnesota at Wisconsin (1 p.m., BTN)
You remember 1906, don’t you? It’s the only year since these schools first met on the gridiron in 1890 that they haven’t played each other. There’s no rivalry in the land whose combatants have butted heads as often — 129 times — as the Gophers and Badgers.
Auburn at Alabama (2:30 p.m., Ch. 2)
Your cousin Cletus in Tuscaloosa says this’ll be a laugher, but you be sure to remind him the Tigers have upset the Crimson Tide in two of the last three Iron Bowls.
Northwestern at Michigan State (TBD)
Pat Fitzgerald’s linebacker-led defense is so tough, one has to wonder if Pat Fitzgerald the player would’ve been good enough to stand out in this group. Besides, Paddy Fisher is just a cooler name than Pat Fitzgerald.
Ohio State at Illinois (TBD)
OK, so the Illini probably can’t hang with the big, bad Buckeyes for long. But if you’re looking for a barometer of where the program is in Year 5 under Lovie Smith, this, folks, is it.