The Pulse: Turkey Day chalk, Lane Watch and USA-England preview


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Good morning! Too much football, too little time.

While You Were Eating

A chalky Thanksgiving

I hope your turkey — or whatever protein you chose, I guess — was delicious. If you got caught in the small talk vortex, we have you covered:

The Bills and Cowboys survived. We were so close to narrative-altering wins for the Lions and Giants. Close losses are still losses, though, so now we move to playoff odds. Both Dallas and Buffalo are 8-3 with no room to breathe in the NFL’s best two divisions. New York falls to 7-4 but is 0-2 in the NFC East, with four more games left against division opponents.

Vikings bounce back: Minnesota regained footing in the NFC playoff race with a win over the Patriots after that horrific loss to Dallas last week. Are the Vikes possibly still fraudy? Maybe. But 9-2 looks nice next to your name.

Another wild Egg Bowl: This game always, always, always delivers. Mississippi State outlasted Ole Miss in a game defined by bad ref calls and bad play calls with explosive offense in between. Lane Kiffin’s team started the season 8-1 and lost its last three games of the year. Now we resume Lane-to-Auburn Watch. The clock is ticking.

Intermission: time to make a turkey sandwich.

World Cupdate

Throw the tea in the harbor already

Let’s set some realistic expectations for the USA-England match this afternoon:

  • The U.S. men’s national team is a heavy underdog to the juggernaut English. BetMGM has the Americans +600 to win and +320 to draw. This is like Mississippi State needing to beat Alabama at a neutral site to survive. If we were on the (American) football field, England would be favored by more than two touchdowns.
  • So: The Americans should be thrilled with a draw. If they win? Party the rest of the night. If they lose, pray it is a tight score. 2-1 sounds nice enough in defeat.

Iran shocked Wales just minutes ago, 2-0, scoring twice deep into stoppage time to win. It simplifies the math for USMNT: If they beat Iran on Tuesday, the Americans will be well-positioned to advance.

So many nerves. There’s plenty of history, too. Our Athletic crew predicted the American starting XI here, and it’s easily the most important decision of Gregg Berhalter’s career on the bench as USMNT manager. No pressure! Also, Harry Kane is playing despite some worries earlier in the week about his ankle.

The good news: We’ve assembled our best panel of writers in Qatar on today’s Athletic Football Podcast to preview the mouthwatering showdown.

Kickoff is at 2 p.m ET on FOX.

Things You Have to See

Richarlison’s howitzer leg

Good art is breathtaking when you see it. Calling Richarlison’s goal in Brazil’s win yesterday good art almost feels weak. Just watch the goal.

This is the kind of goal you see players all over the world attempt, which mostly result in balls over the crossbar or worse. Not Richarlison. Whew.

The Good Thanksgiving Bets

Hey, we have more football

We’ve only just begun a glorious weekend of football — the last one before the college postseason begins. Let’s celebrate by winning some money:


Notre Dame (+5.5) vs. USC
I think the Fighting Irish win this outright. The Trojans rely too heavily on Caleb Williams, who is incredible, but he can’t be the lone source of energy here. Notre Dame will scheme up USC’s offense enough and take advantage of the Trojans’ shaky defense.

Georgia Tech at Georgia UNDER 49
Feels like a slam dunk. The Yellow Jackets’ huge win over North Carolina means little when juxtaposed with the Bulldogs’ defense. Think something like 31-6 here.

Read more: Best bets | Expert picks | Projection model


Colts (-2.5) vs. Steelers
Indy is still spicy under Jeff Saturday. Pittsburgh is not. Saturday gets his second win by a field goal before the stretch run gets difficult.

Raiders (+3.5) vs. Seahawks
My brain simply does not believe the Raiders are actually this bad, despite every bit of data saying otherwise. Maybe they finally needed to just see a win last weekend. They get within at least a field goal. Maybe they win.

Read more: Best bets | Expert picks

Last week: 1-2-1
Pulse record overall: 20-19-1

Feedback Loop

This is officially a pro-turkey newsletter

The results are in and my opinions have become unimpeachable. More than 80 percent of you aligned with Big Turkey, while just 18 percent of you admitted to turkey-hating misery. Go team.

Pulse Picks

Brazil, the World Cup favorites, won yesterday, but at a huge cost: Neymar sprained his ankle and his status for Brazil’s next game is uncertain.

Patrick Beverly got suspended three games for shoving Deandre Ayton the other night. Probably right.

Cristiano Ronaldo earned a nice headline for once after scoring on a penalty kick in Portugal’s win over Ghana yesterday. He’s the first man to score in five World Cups.

Iran’s manager Carlos Quieroz confronted a BBC journalist over questions about protests in the Middle East. It was a remarkable moment.

Corey Pronman looks back at the NHL prospects he was wrong about this year.

Andy McCullough has Black Friday deals for every MLB team.

The Michael Jordan of esports and his high school classmate — also an esports champion — are enjoying rarefied air.

(Photo: Lon Horwedel/USA Today)


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