How to hold your own in sports conversations this Thanksgiving

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You don’t have to know what a race pass option or a zone read is to be able to keep up with the sports talk over Thanksgiving weekend. While not everyone at the table may understand what it means when an announcer says Draymond Green covers a screen, The Standard has put together a guide to basic sports literacy so you can contribute something to the conversation instead of sitting awkwardly in the corner.

Aside from Super Bowl Sunday, no holiday is more football-related than Thanksgiving. The NFL has three games throughout the day: the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions meet on CBS at 9:30 a.m., the Dallas Cowboys host the New York Giants on Fox at 1:30 p.m., and the Minnesota Vikings host the New England Patriots to close out the night with a 5:20 p.m. start on NBC.

Does it feel like the Lions and Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving? It’s because they do! Thanksgiving football in Detroit has been a tradition since 1934, and the Cowboys have done so since 1966. The NFL added a third prime-time television game in 2006, one that doesn’t have a specific team attached to it.

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Both quarterbacks in the Bills-Lions game are from Northern California. Josh Allen grew up in Firebaugh, yes, the small town in Fresno County off Interstate 5, and Jared Goff, who was born in Novato, went to Marin Catholic and played for Cal.

Watch the Cowboys take on the Giants? Ask your football-loving family members if they think the Giants will finally return to earth. They started 6-1 but have lost two of their last three games, with their only win in that stretch coming against the Houston Texans. Just looking to make a general comment? The NFC East, the division in which both the Giants and Cowboys play, has been challenging this year. All four teams in the division have winning records, even the Washington Commanders, who have been a joke for years. It’s a long way from where the division was two years ago; the then-Washington football team finished in first place and made the playoffs with a losing record.

It doesn’t matter who you’re watching the game with, if they’re not a Cowboys fan, they probably hate “Team USA.” Almost all fans consider the Cowboys a rival, and they have a strong following nationally. Simply saying something like, “The Cowboys won’t win another Super Bowl until Jerry Jones sells the team,” is sure to start a fire.

As for the cup, no, Tom Brady no longer plays for the Patriots. He is now in his third season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mac Jones, now in his second season, quarterback for New England.

If college football is your family’s choice, the only Thanksgiving game is the Egg Bowl, the annual end-of-season rivalry between Ole Miss (the common name for the University of Mississippi) and Mississippi State. It’s a game that always seems to showcase something outlandish, whether it’s a player becoming an iconic GIF or a provocative celebration that triggers a team’s season-ending penalty kick.

Other big college games over the course of the weekend are headlined by the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry, played at 9 a.m. Saturday and televised on Fox. Those unfamiliar with college football should note that the quarterback of Ohio State fielder CJ Stroud is a top NFL Draft prospect, as are many of his receivers. Michigan is led by former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Speaking of those 49ers, they host the injury-plagued New Orleans Saints at 1:25 p.m. Sunday. If he’s got big Niners fans in his family, ask them if Christian McCaffrey has lived up to their expectations since he arrived in a trade from Carolina. If you’re around any Raiders fans who’ve been hanging on in the aftermath of the team’s move from Oakland to Las Vegas, you might want to ask them where Josh McDaniels ranks among the franchise’s long history of bad head coaching hires. The Raiders travel to Seattle for a 1:05 game against the Seahawks, a team that both the Raiders and 49ers consider rivals.

The Seahawks played the Raiders in the AFC West until 2001, when they moved to the NFC and became one of San Francisco’s biggest rivals. They were supposed to be one of the worst teams in the league this year after trading quarterback Russell Wilson, but are currently 6-4. Wilson’s new team, the Denver Broncos, is 3-7. A sarcastic “Bronco Country, let’s ride” or “let Russ cook!” It’s sure to make any Broncos haters in your family laugh (like Raiders fans), or Denver fans roll their eyes.

While the Niners are 6-4, the Bay Area’s two biggest college football teams have been far less successful. No, the Bay Area isn’t exactly a hotbed for college football, but alumni keep up with Cal and Stanford. If you want to sound smart to a Cal fan, ask him if he thinks Troy Taylor should be the program’s next head coach. Taylor, a Cal alum, has an 11-0 record this season at Sacramento State. For the Stanford fan in his life, ask if head coach David Shaw should be in the dugout. The Cardinal have won just three games this season, though one of those three came against Notre Dame.

Do you have cousins ​​or siblings in high school? Ask them if they know any of the Lincoln or Balboa players at Thursday’s Turkey Day Game, or if they are friends with anyone on Serra’s list. The Padres are the highest ranked team in the Bay Area and will play for a Central Coast Section (CCS) Championship on Friday night against Mitty.

Is this information overload? Don’t worry. No matter what level of football you’re watching, you can always tell the coach should call a bare bootleg. It’s a play that involves the quarterback rolling to the sideline, but that’s not important. What matters is enthusiastically shouting “naked contraband!”

Fans watch the Golden State Warriors vs. Dallas Mavericks game from Thrive City outside the Chase Center in San Francisco, California on March 26, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

The Golden State Warriors haven’t gotten off to the same roaring start they did to their 2021-22 championship season, currently sitting at 9-10 after Wednesday’s 124-107 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. They will host the Utah Jazz on Friday night, then fly to Minnesota to begin a road trip against the Timberwolves.

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While Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are still draining 3-pointers with the best of them, Golden State’s bench has struggled big this young season. Ask the Warriors fan at his table if he thinks Jonathan Kuminga and James Wiseman are the future, or if Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers need to go back to the drawing board.

It doesn’t matter if you’re surrounded by Warriors fans, Los Angeles Lakers fans, or supporters of one of the other 28 NBA teams, you can definitely say, “Victor Wembanyama is the future,” and no one will disagree. The 7-foot-2 Frenchman is a virtual lock to be the first pick in next year’s NBA Draft.

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The United States drew Wales 1-1 to open the group stage on Monday and face England on Friday. It will be the first time the Americans and English have met at a World Cup since 2010, a 1-1 draw in which the only US goal came from a mistake by British goalkeeper Robert Green.

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Telling a football fan at your Thanksgiving dinner that you prayed for Jordan Pickford to make a mistake like Robert Green’s is sure to garner some approval, or you can simply comment on the results of the ongoing tournament. I’m just saying, “I can’t believe Germany lost to Japan!” or asking, “did you wake up in time to see Argentina lose to Saudi Arabia?” it will be enough to make it sound like you know what you’re talking about, or you may wonder why head coach Gregg Berhalter didn’t bring in Gio Reyna as a substitute when the Americans needed a late goal against Wales.

If you’re looking at Team USA, look for the number 10 jersey. That’s Christian Pulisic, a 24-year-old forward who has been hailed as the nation’s greatest player. Looking for a fun fact to share? Tell his family that American Tyler Adams is the youngest World Cup captain at just 23 years old.

A playoff run doesn’t seem to be in the cards for the 2022-23 San Jose Sharks, who sit at 7-12-3 after Wednesday’s 8-5 loss to the Seattle Kraken, the league’s newest team. San Jose hosts the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night and the Vancouver Canucks pay a visit on Sunday.

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If you’re at Thanksgiving dinner with a Sharks fan, ask him if he thinks new GM Mike Grier should trade Erik Karlsson. The star defenseman is on a tear to start the year, but he is notoriously injury prone and is already 32 years old. You can also ask the hockey fan in his life if he thinks Connor Bedard is the next star in the league. He is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick next year, prompting some fans to yell at lowly teams to “tank hard for Bedard!”

Yes, the World Series ended almost a month ago, with the Houston Astros beating the Philadelphia Phillies in six games, but the MLB offseason is in full swing. Giants fans will be quick to talk about their team’s search for Aaron Judge, the 6-foot-7 slugger who grew up in Linden, San Joaquin County. Judge set a new AL record with 62 home runs this season in the final year of his contract with the New York Yankees, and if he doesn’t stay in the Bronx, the Giants are considered a possible landing spot. Judge officially met with the Giants earlier this week.

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Go beyond scratching the surface by asking your table what they think the Giants should do at shortstop. Brandon Crawford has regressed after a monster season in 2021 and will turn 36 in January. He has one more year left on his contract, which will net him $16 million in 2023. While he’s still a fan favorite and considered an excellent defender, he struggled at the plate and there are plenty of big shortstops available in free agency. including Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, and Dansby Swanson.

Correa was part of the famous Astros sign-stealing scandal and played with Houston from 2015 to 2021 before spending 2022 with the Minnesota Twins. Fans of any baseball team will have opinions to share if they want Correa on their team; His talent is unmistakable, but his past with Houston has made him a controversial figure.

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