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32 Questions: Choking season

Michael Silver
Yahoo Sports

More than anyone I know, my brother-in-law, Ted, loves Thanksgiving dinner. Not only does he gorge himself on all the staples, but what he really looks forward to is a week's worth of chowing on leftovers.

One year his wife, Sarah, came down with a nasty case of food-poisoning a couple of days after Thanksgiving, while Ted became only mildly nauseous. They knew the culprit had to have been one of the leftover dishes, and the logical reaction was to start dumping Tupperware containers. But Ted couldn't bring himself to do it. He took his chances and kept feasting on post-Thanksgiving fare until it was completely gone.

This is a long way of saying that in my family, as in most of yours, this holiday is about eating, end of story. But if you're a member of the Lions, who host the Packers in the first of three games Thursday, this year's Thanksgiving could also include a choking theme.

There, I said it. It brings me no pleasure to report that the Lions, finally showing some life in 2007 after six consecutive miserable seasons in the Matt Millen era, are in danger of having it all slip away. Yet reality (like my ravenous brother-in-law attacking a turkey leg) bites, and this is Detroit's: Coming off consecutive defeats to the Cardinals and Giants, and with the powerful Packers coming to town, the Lions (6-4), by the time the turkey is served, could find themselves effectively shut out of the NFC North race and facing a rigorous road to a wild-card berth.

Detroit's remaining schedule – at Minnesota, Dallas, at San Diego, Kansas City and at Green Bay – is a reasonably challenging one, especially given this team's struggles on the road. More daunting is the fact that the Lions already seem to be showing signs of cracking: Witness last Sunday's post-game comments by quarterback Jon Kitna, he of the 10-victory preseason guarantee, regarding the Giants: "That is not a better football team than us. We gave them the football game today. We gave it away. We had mental errors. We beat ourselves."

Whether or not Kitna actually believes this, it comes across as whiny and delusional – after all, the beauty of sports is that such esoteric questions are resolved by the scoreboard. Kitna's typically a terrific leader, and as a seasoned veteran he needs to steer his untested team through a potentially stressful time. Holding thoughts like those inside would be a great way to start.

Speaking of holding things inside, here's my holiday question for Ted: Bro, can you please pass the stuffing – for the next 23 consecutive meals?

Now, the rankings, from the fattest of birds to the most spoiled of leftovers:

1. New England Patriots: Will they put up 60 on Philly?

2. Indianapolis Colts: Are you starting to wonder whether Marvin Harrison will ever come back from that "bruised" knee?

3. Dallas Cowboys: What's more entertaining – watching Terrell Owens toy with opposing defensive backs, or hearing him implicitly taunt Bill Parcells in his post-game press conference?

4. Green Bay Packers: When did Dorsey Levens clone himself and come back as Ryan Grant?

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: How much will Mike Peterson's injury hurt this team?

6. Pittsburgh Steelers: Was that an aberration, or have we been too generous in our assessment of this team?

7. Tennessee Titans: Even while suspended, is Pacman Jones still making his presence felt?

8. New York Giants: Why do I get the feeling Michael Strahan simply won't let another second-half collapse happen this year?

9. Seattle Seahawks: If you've got the quarterback and the receivers to pull it off, why not throw the ball all over the place?

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Is Joey Galloway, who turned 36 Tuesday, better than Joey Galloway at 26?

11. Cleveland Browns: Why exactly would anyone kick to Joshua Cribbs with the game on the line?

12. Detroit Lions: Detroit Lions: Yo, Shaun McDonald – do you want some more gravy with that pigskin?

13. Washington Redskins: Where have you been, Santana Moss, and can you please stick around for the stretch run?

14. Arizona Cardinals: That was an amazing performance, Antrel Rolle, but did you really do Deion Sanders' palm-to-the-ear move on your way to the end zone?

15. San Diego Chargers: Regardless of their legitimacy, how amusing are those before/after Shawne Merriman photos on profootballtalk.com?

16. Denver Broncos: Who the hell is Andre Hall, and did Mike Shanahan just do it again ?

17. Houston Texans: In a different division, would this team make the playoffs?

18. Buffalo Bills: You guys weren't hoping to sneak into the playoffs on a point-differential tiebreaker, were you?

19. Kansas City Chiefs: Compared to Mike Solari's offense, doesn't Martyball seem like The Greatest Show On Turf?

20. Philadelphia Eagles: Is it fair to conclude that Brian Westbrook is, in fact, an every-down back?

21. New Orleans Saints: Yo, Sean Payton – can you get Jason David some help back there, or else admit that it was a bad free-agent signing and move on without him?

22. Chicago Bears: After a one-year reprieve, should we now conclude that the Curse of the Super Bowl Losers is back with a vengeance?

23. Baltimore Ravens: Can you believe Kyle Boller just became the franchise's all-time passing yardage leader – beating out Vinny Testaverde ?

24. Minnesota Vikings: Hey, Brad – have you considered playing Sidney Rice at quarterback?

25. Carolina Panthers: Attention, John Fox – the next time you try one of those pooch punts, what do you say you put a couple of fast guys out there to cover it?

26. Cincinnati Bengals: If the second year removed from a torn ACL is supposed to be the true bounceback season, how can we explain what's happening to Carson Palmer?

27. Atlanta Falcons: When Michael Vick began serving his prison sentence Monday, did Byron Leftwich simultaneously begin his stay in Bobby Petrino's doghouse?

28. New York Jets: Guys, where did that come from … and can you please at least put up a fight on Thanksgiving?

29. St. Louis Rams: A healthy Steven Jackson makes a slight difference, doesn't he?

30. Oakland Raiders: Is Warren Sapp about to snap – and can you blame him?

31. San Francisco 49ers: Has Alex Smith played his last game for the 49ers, or will Mike Nolan be gone after this season – or both?

32. Miami Dolphins: Hey, all you Ricky Williams haters out there – don't you think he might have been helpful on those four unsuccessful goal-line plays in Philly?