Thanksgiving Day Observations

I want to separate out the abomination that was the Giants game because I watched it Friday morning, and I don’t want it to taint what was otherwise a nice Thanksgiving. Heather and Sasha are in Los Angeles for the week, so I took a train up the coast from Lisbon to Estoril to my American friends’ house, and they made a perfectly cooked turkey, mashed potatoes, etc. The problem with turkey – and poultry in general – is you can’t eat it rare the way you can with lamb and steak. As such, you run the risk of overcooking it and drying it out. The turkey yesterday was perfectly cooked through, but totally juicy and flavorful. One of the better ones I’ve had. I stayed for the entire early game (which ended at 9:00 pm my time), and though it didn’t go my way fantasy-wise or against the spread, it was watchable at least.

• Case Keenum is a good quarterback. He’s mobile, makes good decisions and will throw down the field. I have no idea why Teddy Bridgewater is even mentioned at this point, and Sam Bradford’s injury was a blessing in plain view.

• Kyle Rudolph got the touchdowns this week, but Adam Thielen always gets his. Thielen has a good chance to finish as a top-three fantasy receiver this year. Stefon Diggs looks healthy again and saw seven targets.

• It’s amazing to me Latavius Murray, who I’d left for dead, has surpassed Jerick McKinnon to become the team’s No. 1 back. McKinnon is faster and more athletic and will still get some work (13 carries), but he’s second fiddle right now.

• I thought Golden Tate would have a good game because Marvin Jones was matched-up on the outside with Xavier Rhodes. But Jones torched Rhodes for a 9-6-109-2 line. Tate barely did anything and even gave up a key first down by trying to get extra yards.

• The Lions need to get Eric Ebron, who is catching passes again, and Kenny Golladay even more involved. Matthew Stafford is good enough, but it feels like they’re not attacking with their playmakers enough. Ameer Abdullah is a distraction from actually trying to score points.

• I got excited on the blocked FG TD for a minute before seeing on replay that the Lions were a mile offsides. Still, no one can take that special Thanksgiving moment – when I thought I had the potential cover – away from me.

• The Chargers annihilated the Cowboys by a margin wider than the score. Philip Rivers had 434 passing yards on 33 attempts! That’s 13.2 YPA. And he didn’t turn it over and wasn’t sacked. It doesn’t get more dominant than that.

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• Keenan Allen had his second straight huge game, including a 42-yard TD. I’ve knocked him for a lack of big-play ability and red-zone use, but he’s good, when healthy, between the 20s. And he’ll get free downfield once in a while.

• The Chargers’ first-round pick, Mike Williams, left with a knee injury, and Tyrell Williams made two big catches and scored. The latter Williams had a good year filling in for Allen last year, but it’s obvious the team sees him as depth and not a go-to target if Allen and the rookie are healthy.

• Hunter Henry should be a top-five TE, as he always makes plays when the team isn’t for God knows what reason ignoring him. He caught all five of his targets for 76 yards and a TD.

• The only Charger who struggled was Melvin Gordon, who managed only 3.1 YPC against the Sean Lee-less Cowboys defense. Austin Ekeler had only six carries, but three catches for 55 yards.

• I mentioned last week that Jason Garrett is one of the sneaky terrible coaches in the league, and he backed me up yesterday. The punting on fourth and short in plus territory has always been his thing, but why can’t the Cowboys scheme to get Dez Bryant the ball? They were dominated all game, and yet their supposedly star receiver didn’t get a target until the second half? I realize Bryant has probably lost a step, and Casey Hayward is a tough cornerback, but it’s all the more reason to put Bryant in motion, or line him up in the slot. The creativity deficit, especially when compared to forward thinking coaches like Sean McVay, is glaring.

• Jason Witten is a perfect match for Garrett. I loved the four-yard pass to him on 3rd-and-9 near the end of the first half. What did the Cowboys think would happen, that Witten would gain five yards after the catch? LOL.

• Dak Prescott played poorly, though his crumbling supporting cast and bad coach mitigate it somewhat. He’s still a top-10 real-life QB and happened to face two tough defenses the last two weeks.

• Rod Smith looks like a co-starter with Alfred Morris. The Cowboys have a few good matchups on tap (Redskins, Giants, Raiders), so Smith could be useful fantasy-wise down the stretch.

• The Chargers look like a contender, but why were they botching PATs rather than going for two?

• The Giants game was one of the most unwatchable of all time. So much punting. And maybe Brad Wing is a good directional punter, but the guy has no leg.

• Eli Manning is a terrible QB. Bottom-10 for sure, and trending toward barbaric – 113 yards, 4.2 YPA, a pick and four sacks. How many times did he hold the ball too long, overthrow a receiver, miss a wide-open screen or throw the ball at a receiver’s feet on a key third-down play? When you’re not mobile, don’t have a huge arm, don’t extend plays, aren’t especially accurate and don’t make good decisions, you can’t afford egregious errors on top of it. The Giants scored three offensive points all game against an average Redskins defense.

• The Giants receivers are bad. They’re skinny but not quick or fast and go right to the ground on the off chance they come down with a catch. Evan Engram is the only one with any size and athleticism, but he’s been dropping passes of late too.

• The playcalling was also poor. On a drive in the fourth quarter when the game was tied 10-10, the Giants started with a nine-yard pass to Tavarres King to set up 2nd-and-1 at their 15-yard line. This was an offense that could not move the ball all game. They needed to take a shot off play action, do something with the favorable down-and-distance. Instead, they tried to get a small win by picking up the first down, ran Orleans Darkwa into the teeth of the defense, and he was stuffed. The next play, on an obvious passing down, an incomplete pass, and they punted. The Redskins scored on the next drive, and the game was over.

• I thought Darkwa was the clear starter at RB, but Wayne Gallman essentially split the load 50/50. Job security is always a problem with no-pedigree, low-investment players like Darkwa.

• Landon Collins is healthy again. The last two weeks he’s had 30 total tackles, and he seemed to be on my screen virtually every defensive snap.

• Kirk Cousins is doing what Prescott would like to be doing – winning with a severely compromised supporting cast. The Giants defense held up for a while, but they simply could not cover Jamison Crowder. From what I could tell, they put Ross Cockrell – a reserve corner – on him, and Crowder (10-7-141-1) destroyed him.

• Samaje Perine looked pretty good. He isn’t especially shifty, but is a load to bring down. Josh Doctson caught the game-winning TD, but otherwise did next to nothing.

• Vernon Davis had only one target and no catches. So much for the Giants and their tight-end streak.

• I actually think Ben McAdoo was correct to go for it on 4th-and-3, down seven in his own end toward the end of the game, even though he had three timeouts left, but I knew when they failed it meant a Redskins field goal and a loss ATS for me. To his credit McAdoo also went on 4th-and-1 in Redskins territory in the first half rather than settling for a field goal. They settled eventually anyway, but it was also the right call. Not that he’s within 100 miles of being competent, but credit where it’s due.