Thanksgiving NFL viewing guide: The right way to watch the games on Thursday

Thanksgiving is an amazing day in America. We purge, we drink, we watch football. And we do it with family, save for the communists who insist on making an Ulta run at 4 a.m., and the savage despots who indenture retail workers on this glorious no-work day. For those of you to whom that applies, click onto the next story, please.

But, as fun as gatherings can be, they also are a real chore to plan out. First of all, feeding the masses can prove to be hellish. Timing up the food with everything else that happens at homes around the country, it's tricky business. After all, even though families are coming together, there can be various activities going on simultaneously.

The younger crowd will play a game of football in the street. Mom will be working on her famous casserole that is sure to please everybody. Dad just wants his favorite chair parked in front of the TV, and he doesn't plan to move. And everyone has an uncle who has a few too many adult beverages and starts with the obscene jokes. It's ritual.

With that in mind, The Shutdown Corner (with serious help from Anwar Richardson and Frank Schwab) would like to offer a timeline for how to plan your day. Naturally, Mom — or whoever is in charge of the food — has final say on this. But we feel that pure harmony of food, football and fun can be achieved with just a little forethought and planning.


12:00 p.m. ET — Tell your guests to arrive. Which means they'll show up between 12:30 and 1, if you're lucky enough.

12:28 p.m. — Kickoff of Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. Not everyone will be around the television at this point, but should a non-football fan migrate in, be prepared when they see the Packers' 5-5-1 record to explain how ties and overtime work in the NFL. It is best not to start drinking before doing so. Also be prepared to explain how these two teams tied and lost to the Bucs and Vikings four days prior and why they should be allowed to be featured on national television after doing so.

12:30 p.m. — Oh, and you quickly should be taking bets at this point over which Packers player Ndamukong Suh will attack first — the smart money is on Josh Sitton — and which extremity he'll maul. (Tiebreaker is which quarter said assault occurs.)

12:41 p.m. — Serve something light to nosh on, such as corn nuts or pork rinds with hot sauce, so as to prime the stomachs for later. Begin a "Pam Oliver or Erin Andrews?" debate and watch the sparks fly.

1:15 p.m. — Walk away from this game for a minute. You'll need the break. It will bore you for a considerable stretch, somewhere around Matt Flynn's second intentional grounding penalty. You'll want to talk to Aunt Jennie for a little while before that massive game of darts begins later. Plus, dinner will be hitting the table soon.

1:50 p.m. — It should roughly be halftime, and your explanation of overtime rules will have just ended. Begin eating the main meal ... again, with the cook's prior approval. You'll be missing a riveting pre-taped FOX sitdown with Nate Burleson, explaining how he plans to eat pizza and not turkey after the game. This is to prevent you from throwing your boot at the television.

2:41 p.m. — You're back in front of the TV and in need of some serious Tryptophan-thwarting stimulation. One suggestion: Start guessing when Matthew Stafford will bounce a pass off a teammate's helmet, and whether it'll be caught by a Lion or a Packer. Because it will happen.

3:10 p.m. — Make a Jim Schwartz challenge-flag joke that one member of your family will laugh at. He'll be the one checking his fantasy football team on his smart phone or texting in his bets to his bookie for the later games.

4:20 p.m. — You'll want to start drinking more heavily now because the second game — Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys — is starting, and Phil Simms is always best absorbed when inebriated. Follow @philsimmsquotes on Twitter and be prepared read aloud the quotes of the things Simms will have just said on the TV moments before. Somehow, reading them aloud a second time makes them funnier to the nth degree. That sixth glass of bourbon will have nothing to do with it.

4:25 p.m. — Be prepared to rattle off Tony Romo's celebrity dating history. It will come up in family conversation and likely devolve to an argument over which girl was "best for him."

4:35 p.m. — Impress your family with a few fun facts about Raiders starting quarterback Matt McGloin, and the rich history of esoteric Thanksgiving starting quarterbacks. A head-start list for you: Joey Harrington always gets a good belly laugh. Quincy Carter is a classic stand-by. Jay Fiedler, too. Craig Krenzel and Drew Henson once started the same game. So did Danny Wuerffel and Chad Hutchinson, in a different year. Guarantee those two were among the drunkest Thanksgivings on record.

5:00 p.m. — Do a shot in honor of Al Davis. Then back it up with one for Jerry Jones. Then have a shot every time the CBS cameras show Jones pacing in his owners' box.

5:01 p.m. — Do a shot in honor of "Buttfumble." Don't you dare skip that one.

5:04 p.m. — Reenact the Leon Lett fumble on its 20th anniversary with your brother and his new girlfriend on the basement floor. It's a fun, new way of indoctrinating her into the oddities of the family.

5:08 p.m. — Reenact "Buttfumble." Make the oldest person at the party play Sanchez.

5:16 p.m. — Feel guilty that you have no idea what the score is.

5:19 p.m. — Laugh at the last thing Simms just said.

5:42 p.m. — Dunk a piece of leftover turkey into the cold Ro-Tel dip, which has formed a protective shield on itself after cooling to room temp. This is the only day of the year you can get away with this.

6:38 p.m. — Walk away from the TV confident that Dez Bryant will not chew out any of the Cowboys' cheerleaders because they'll be beating the Raiders by 25 at this point.

7:15 p.m. — This is the time to start a pot of coffee, or take a nap, whichever seems more prudent at the time. Most of the relatives will have cleared out at this point, which allows you to do whatever you want for the rest of the night, with less chance of embarrassing yourself.

7:54 p.m. — Second meal time. Take a slice of bread, spread a little cream cheese left over from Mom's dessert on it, slather on a little cranberry sauce (homemade only please), heap on some dark meat (trust me), maybe a little stuffing too, and top it with a slice of cheddar cheese. Park that puppy under the broiler for a few minutes, and thank me later.

8:30 p.m. — Only the diehards are left. These folks are guaranteed football junkies. Or the guy who laughed at the Jim Schwartz joke before, who is down five hundy on the early games and just knows this first half over/under bet will get him back in the black. Either way, they are slightly sick puppies. They actually want to watch Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens, which is about to kick off. Playoff implications! Huge rivalry! Whatever!

8:33 p.m. — To keep the party lively, now is the time to break out your best Al Michaels impression, specifically after he uses the word "huge" to explain how big this game really is during the monologue. For the record, this word is pronounced yoooooouuu-ge.

9:01 p.m. — Invent a drinking game involving Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger. It could be shockingly fun.

9:04 p.m. — Flacco in the "Wildcat?" DRINK.

9:08 p.m. — Cris Collinsworth praising Big Ben's toughness? DRINK.

9:19 p.m. — Oh, this could get ugly fast ...

10:46 p.m. — Turn down the sound of the game and break out your Grand Funk Railroad CD. Because, America.

10:49 p.m. — Thank your guests for coming. They're suddenly leaving in a giant hurry.

11:06 p.m. — As you watch the final minutes of an 11-8 barn burner, realize that you will not be cleaning up the mess tonight. You should start plotting your work-skipping excuse(s) right now.

11:23 p.m. — Click on the Shutdown Corner. Your night is complete. Thanksgiving, we hardly knew ya ...

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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