USA vs. England on Black Friday is a perfect scenario to set World Cup viewing records

Iran V England, Qatar 2022 World Cup Reaction
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The first USA match already drew massive viewership numbers.

When the United States and England face off on Black Friday it very well could smash television ratings records. This World Cup is already drawing large amounts of viewers thanks to its easily accessible match times and lack of competition for an audience. Over 8 million people tuned in to the USMNT’s opening match against Wales on FOX, the U.S. language provider for the World Cup. While the timeslot for their crucial Group B clash with the Three Lions will remain the same, the circumstances are drastically different and should make for an unmissable spectacle.

The most-watched Men’s World Cup match on English-language television ever is the USA’s 2-2 draw with Portugal in the 2014 group stage. That entertaining affair drew an audience of 18.2 million. Acquiring 10 million more viewers than the Wales match may seem unlikely, but when you consider the unusual aspect of the holiday season it has a good chance.

The day after Thanksgiving is synonymous with shopping and leftovers and while the NFL has a television monopoly on Thursday, the day after is almost the perfect scenario for a soccer match to gain eyeballs. Couple that with the fact that the USMNT’s match with England could make or break their dreams of qualifying for the Round of 16 and you have yourself quite the sporting attraction. A loss to England wouldn’t totally kill the USA’s chances at getting through to the knockout rounds, but it would make it very difficult. While a win would go down as one of the biggest moments in recent U.S. Soccer history and set them up for a deeper run in the tournament.

Outside of the short-term implications, there’s a much broader appeal to a USA vs. England World Cup match. Setting aside the obvious political and historical undertones, there’s the prestige factor. Everyone has that one friend that is a soccer fan that cheers for England in big tournaments rather than the USMNT because they watched two Manchester United matches at some point in their lives. England is just the glamorous team when it comes to the casual soccer fan. If you’ve watched this sport at all, chances are you’ve encountered a Premier League match before anything else.

The debate about “the best league in the world” will rage on forever, but there’s no doubt that the Premier League is the one the average soccer fan pays most attention to. For lack of a better description, it’s the sexy league everyone is drawn towards. So, the general sports fan may not care about the USMNT’s chances of advancing out of their group, but they sure will pay attention to Tottenham’s Harry Kane or Manchester City’s Phil Foden playing against the Americans.

All of these factors set the stage for what should be one of the biggest sporting occasions of the year. Put two good teams against each other in the middle of a holiday afternoon with the whole country in front of their TVs and we could see history made.

What 11 star athletes and coaches should have on their plates this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Plate
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Let’s imagine what everyone is having this holiday season.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and with it our individuals plans for the meal. Some people are traditionalists, opting to get all the classic elements and having their storybook Thanksgiving. Some people are side aficionados, who think turkey is overrated and much rather fill their plates with all the good stuff. Then there’s always one chaotic person at the table who only eats an alarmingly large portion of mashed potatoes, and nothing else.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these approaches, but what about professional athletes? It’s mid-season for a lot of them, making Thanksgiving a minefield of carbs, sodium, and banned foods — balancing them against their restrictive diets, while still being able to celebrate. We imagined what some of the biggest names in sports are filling their plates with on the holiday this year.

Zach Wilson

One pound of extremely dry, white meat turkey, nothing else

This was Wilson’s second year in charge of Thanksgiving, and he made a mess of it in 2021 — but there was hope he’d turn it around. Instead he’s pulling a turkey breast out of his oven that has been cooked to the point of dust and is functionally inedible.

Wilson is going to sit there and try to make it through his dry-ass turkey, while blaming the results on his convection oven — not his ability to cook. How was he supposed to know there was wind in a convection oven? You have to factor in the wind. He didn’t let his family down, because he did exactly what was asked of him and produce a turkey. If you don’t like it then that’s on you pal.

Matthew Judon

Literally anything but mac and cheese

One of my favorite holiday feuds — aside from me versus gift wrapping — is the ongoing battle between New England Patriots pass rusher Matthew Judon, and mac and cheese. Judon made national news last year when, in the buildup to Thanksgiving, he called mac and cheese “overrated” during then-teammate Kyle Van Noy’s YouTube series “Elite Eatz.”

In the days before Thanksgiving, Judon doubled-down:

“We gotta get macaroni and cheese off the table. … It’s just cheese and noodles, it’s not that good … Every time I try it, it’s the same thing. And it’s never gonna change. It’s never gonna get better, all right? I’m almost 30 now. I’m pretty set in my ways. And it’s disgusting. Get it off the table. The bathrooms will be less busy, and everybody will have a better day.”

The feud continues to this day. During training camp, Judon was confronted about his mac and cheese take by a Patriots fan, but simply glared back his response:

I do not know much, but I do know this: Mac and cheese will be nowhere near Judon’s Thanksgiving table.

Dan Campbell

A blender full of raw eggs mixed with supplements

No time off. The Lions play on Thanksgiving. No time to pig out or rest, so Campbell is just blending up some eggs with a bunch of vitamins and chugging it on his way out the door on the way to Ford Field.

Lincoln Riley

Overcooked brisket

As fathers grow older, they often try and become self-described experts at different things: Smoking meat, military history, commercial airplane identification, woodworking, lawn maintenance, or other such topics.

(Some of us even try and become experts at all of the above, much to the annoyance of the rest of the family, but I’ve said too much).

Perhaps USC head coach Lincoln Riley fits into that first column, given this effort at an Easter brisket from a while back:

I mean…sure?

Jaylen Brown

Ham

But he will think it is turkey, and then claim he did not have his glasses on.

LeBron James

A turkey cooked to perfection, following Martha Stewart’s method

Then LeBron will claim he was the one who told Martha Stewart about the process, which involves draping the turkey in a cheesecloth soaked in a butter and wine mixture, and then after roasting the turkey with the cheesecloth in place for a period of time, removing the cheesecloth and basting the turkey every thirty minutes.

Justin Jefferson

Turkey étouffée

Jefferson is having Thanksgiving at Kirk Cousins’ house, and who knows what the hell that man is making. So, the receiver is bringing a big ass pot of perfect turkey étouffée and bailing out Cousins so he looks way better than he really is. He’ll even let him take credit for it, because that’s the kind of dude Justin Jefferson is.

I don’t know if Cousins will be able to handle the heat of food cooked with more than just table salt and a tiny sprinkle of pre-ground black pepper, but we’re going to see what happens.

Tom Brady

More stuffing than you can imagine

It has been a trying season for Tom Brady. After retiring, and then un-retiring, Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been inconsistent at best on the field this season. The veteran quarterback has looked miserable in wins, worse in losses, faced criticism after comparing the NFL season to a military deployment, turned in perhaps the worst play of the season on an ill-advised throwback pass from Leonard Fournette, prompted a warning to all 32 teams because he cannot stop throwing Microsoft Surface tablets on the sideline, was potentially cursed by witches, and was recently sued a part of a proposed class-action suit relating to his involvement with crypto trading platform FTX.

So what does a man who has gone through all of that put on his Thanksgiving table? Well, if you Tom Brady, who notoriously avoids bread, after a year like that you are putting more stuffing on the table than one can imagine. Multiple varieties too. Perhaps a traditional Italian sausage stuffing, as well as an Eastern European variety that involves water chestnuts, raisins, and celery. Perhaps an apple-pecan stuffing, and a cornbread stuffing with sausage and fennel. Let’s throw in this cranberry and sage stuffing as well.

Brady is going to eat more stuffing this week than the rest of us combined.

Sauce Gardner

Zach Wilson’s dry-ass turkey covered in hot sauce

It’s on brand, right? Sauce and the Jets defense is the only thing making that team palatable this year, and so he’ll rush in to save the day with some incredible hot sauce that will make even the worst prepared main a little better.

Nobody thought he’d be able to have such an impact on Thanksgiving this early in his NFL career, but Saucer is proving everyone wrong.

Justin Fields

A home made gourmet meal constructed out of canned goods and leftovers

It’s a busy time for an NFL quarterback, so I can’t imagine Fields has time to shop himself. It was a nice of the Bears to drop off some ingredients for him, but it was mostly expired canned goods, leftover turkey, and a half-eaten pie.

That’s some garbage to work with, but Fields makes magic with it, creating a feast like nobody has experienced and turning nothing into something incredible. Was there any doubt? The man is a magician on the field, why not in the kitchen too?

Cristiano Ronaldo

Why are you even asking? Shut up. You’re wrong. It’s not up to you to know or criticize what I’m eating. Only Cristiano can decide that.

Okay, jeez… sorry we asked.

MLB Playoffs: Yordan Alvarez’s walk-off homer gives Astros a comeback win over Mariners

Division Series - Seattle Mariners v Houston Astros - Game One
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Alvarez and Houston completed a big comeback after having trailed Seattle since the first inning.

The Mariners advanced past the Blue Jays in the American League Wild Card Series after an incredible comeback win in Game 2. That saw them advance to the ALDS against the Astros where they were on the other end of one.

Seattle led from the first inning, putting up six runs on Astros’ ace Justin Verlander, knocking him out after the fourth. However, Houston slowly began to chip away at their deficit and went into the bottom of the ninth trailing just 7-5.

For the ninth, Seattle brought in their closer, Paul Sewald, who got two outs either side of hitting pinch hitter David Hensley with a pitch. Sewald then got within one strike of closing out a victory, only for Houston shortstop Jeremy Peña to keep the game alive with a single.

At that point, Mariners manager Scott Servais went back to his bullpen and brought in Robbie Ray, who is normally a starter and struggled in the series against the Blue Jays. Ray was tasked with facing Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez, who has been one of the best hitters in baseball this season. The move to Ray is now likely destined to be one of the most questioned ones this October, as Alvarez crushed a pitch to give Houston a walk-off 8-7 win.

The Astros have been one of the most successful franchises in baseball in the past couple years, and it’s easy to see why after that homer. They were down a couple runs after their ace had put in probably his worst outing of 2022. That’s a hard thing to overcome in most games, but apparently not this one.

Meanwhile, it was a real gut punch for Seattle. It’s not everyday that you can put up six runs against and knock out Verlander, but they did it in fairly impressive style. Even though they did all that, they still ended up trailing 1-0 in the series.

MLB Playoffs: Justin Verlander rocked by Mariners early in ALDS

Division Series - Seattle Mariners v Houston Astros - Game One
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Verlander’s first start of the playoffs ended up being his worst of 2022 so far.

Justin Verlander has had a very remarkable career, the legend of which has only been added to in 2022. Despite missing most of the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy Jogn surgery, Verlander returned to the Houston Astros’ rotation this year and looked like prime Verlander. His 1.75 ERA in in 175 innings has him in the running for a third career Cy Young Award.

Verlander has been so good that even though he missed some time late in the season, the Astros still made him their #1 starter in their American League Division Series against the Seattle Mariners. He even closed out his regular season with five no-hit innings against a Phillies’ team that made the playoffs. However, in his first playoff start since Game 6 of the 2019 World Series, he didn’t come close to matching his regular season success.

Seattle jumped on him for a run in the first thanks to a Cal Raleigh RBI single, and followed that up by dropping three in the second. The big blow for the Mariners came on a two-RBI double by Julio Rodríguez that made it 3-0.

Verlander eventually exited the game after the Mariners added two more runs in the fourth inning. In total, the Astros’ ace allowed six earned runs on 10 hits in just four innings. The runs and hits both match his high from the regular season, which also came against the Mariners back on May 27th. He only gave up more than three earned runs in a start on just two occasions in the regular season.

Meanwhile, the Mariners’ dream run in their first playoff appearance since 2001 continued as they got off to the perfect start against a normally dominant Verlander.

Davante Adams shoved a stadium worker after the Raiders Monday night collapse


Davante Adams should have picked a better target for his frustration with the Raiders’ latest loss.

The Las Vegas Raiders had the mighty Kansas City Chiefs on the ropes on Monday night to end Week 5. Superstar wide receiver Davante Adams was having his best game yet for the Raiders, scoring on a 58-yard touchdown in the first quarter and a 48-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Adams’ second TD put the Raiders within an extra point of tying the Chiefs.

Instead, Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels decided to go for two, and KC got the stop. The Chiefs won, 30-29, to move the Raiders to 1-4 on the season.

The Raiders had one last chance to drive into field goal range in the final seconds, but the officials overturned a reception by Adams that ultimately led to Vegas turning the ball over on downs to end the game. As Adams walked off the field with the loss, he stupidly took out on his frustration on an apparent camera guy (or sound guy?) near the tunnel.

You can’t do that, Davante Adams. Take your frustrations out on the coaching staff, or maybe even your teammates behind closed doors, but absolutely do not take them out on a normal guy just trying to do his job.

Adams apologized to the guy after the game:

Adams also tweeted out an apology after the game:

The Raiders remain a disaster. We’ll update this story if Adams faces any punishment for his shove.

We thought the dubious roughing the passer penalty on Tom Brady was the worst call of the week. We were wrong.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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The Chris Jones sack of Derek Carr takes the lead

As football fans, thought nothing could top the roughing the passer penalty called on Grady Jarrett during his fourth-quarter sack of Tom Brady during Sunday’s game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

We were wrong.

During Monday night’s game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs, defensive tackle Chris Jones accomplished something that in over three decades of watching football I did not think was possible.

Commit a roughing the passer penalty while holding the football:

Jones breaks around the edge and tracks Derek Carr down from behind, ripping the football out of his hands and crashing to the turf with the quarterback.

Instead of the Chiefs taking over possession, with a chance to cut into Las Vegas’ 17-7 lead, the Raiders’ drive continued. Las Vegas finished the drive with a field goal, extending their lead to 20-7.

As was the case with the Brady sack on Sunday, the reaction on social media was quick, and filled with shock.

As with the penalty called on Jarrett in his takedown of Brady, the officials likely looked at a portion of the roughing the passer rules when throwing the flag on this play. According to the rules, the following conduct is considered a penalty:

When tackling a passer who is in a defenseless posture (e.g., during or just after throwing a pass), a defensive player must not unnecessarily or violently throw him down or land on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight. Instead, the defensive player must strive to wrap up the passer with the defensive player’s arms and not land on the passer with all or most of his body weight.

While Jones’ play here might technically qualify as a penalty, it is hard to believe that what he does here in the strip-sack of Carr is consistent with the spirit and purpose of the rules. He is making a football play, ripping the ball out of the quarterback’s hands, and then crashing to the turf in the process, along with Carr.

Asking a defender in Jones’ position to do something different seems like an impossible ask.

After the game on Sunday, Jerome Boger pointed to this portion of the rulebook as the reason for the flag on Jarrett:

We can only anticipate a similar statement following tonight’s game.