School and work are out on Thanksgiving, so Americans really have no obligation to learn. And while that's refreshing, anyone who parked themselves in front of the television and spent the day watching football inevitably learned some things about the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. Let's reflect…
1. The Green Bay Packers NEED Aaron Rodgers: We kind of already knew this, but after another week of practice, there was a glimmer of hope regarding Matt Flynn…basically because of what he did like two years ago with the Packers in two games filling in for Rodgers.
Green Bay needs Aaron Rodgers in the worst way. Suddenly, Mike McCarthy is a "horrible play-caller." Suddenly, the running game is stagnant. Suddenly, the offensive line is Porous City.
The Packers aren't bad, but man, without Rodgers, who, to me, is the best quarterback in the game today, they are simply another mediocre-to-blah NFL team that'd be lucky to finish with a.500 record.
2. Mike Tomlin doesn't have any shame: Trying to obstruct Jacoby Jones as he sprinted down the sideline on a second-half kickoff return against the Steelers was not a good look for Omar Epps. He somehow avoided a penalty on the play but should be hearing from the NFL offices soon. A suspension is probably not what he deserves, but a hefty fine? Absolutely. The league must make an example out of Tomlin.
Had Pittsburgh completed its comeback and beaten Baltimore, all hell would have broken loose today. Actually, if the NFL suspends Tomlin for a game, I won't hate it. His "convenient positioning" was childish, unsportsmanlike and, frankly, rather pathetic.
3. Matt McGloin might be Andy Dalton Jr.: That's not a diss, Bengals fans. McGloin not only wears No. 14 and resembles Cincinnati's quarterback, but his game resembles Dalton's. Seriously. McGloin has proven to be, at the very least, a capable backup for the Oakland Raiders.
He made a variety of "wow" throws against the Cowboys, but his inability to really drive the ball down the field was apparent on some occasions, especially on the end zone interception he threw in the fourth quarter that essentially sealed the game. Ok, I won't lie, I initially thought of a Dalton comparison because of the jersey number and hair tint. But does he plays like Dalton, too.
4. The Detroit Lions are flashy on the surface, but win in the trenches: With the rocket-armed Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson out wide, Detroit has a reputation as a high-scoring, mistake-prone team that wants to win a shootout every week and doesn't care too much about running the football, or stopping their opponents.
While they might be built to win games that feature an abundance of yards and points, the Lions have embodied the blue-collar roots of the city in which they call home.
Reggie Bush is having an All-Pro caliber season running behind dancing bears Dominic Raiola, Larry Warford and Co. Stafford's only been sacked on 2.9 percent of his attempts this year, which leads the league.
In the trenches on defense, Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and rookie Ziggy Ansah have become, arguably, the most intimidating defensive line trio in the NFC. As a team, the Lions allow 3.7 yards per carry.
5. The Ravens are rounding into form. I think. Right?: Joe Flacco has completed 67.2 percent of his passes over the past two weeks with a yards per attempt average of 8.59. In theory, those statistics shouldn't be anything out of the ordinary for a Super Bowl-winning quarterback fresh off a huge contract extension. But for Flacco, they are. Before the back-to-back wins, he completed less than 60 percent of his passes in six of seven games and averaged only 6.68 yards per attempt over that stretch.
Baltimore's defense is good, not great, and the running game is not nearly as reliable as it once was.
So what did we learn about the Ravens on Thanksgiving? That they're almost impossible to predict. Alrighty then.
6. Big Ben still has it: Although Ben Roethlisberger didn't finish the comeback against the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving, he showed the perseverance that made him one of the game's best but most underrated quarterbacks during the mid-2000s.
He's on pace for exactly 4,500 yards this year, which would shatter his previous career high and is completing 64.4 percent of his passes—he's been under 64 percent in each of the last three seasons.
While rumors swirl about Pittsburgh trading its veteran franchise quarterback this offseason, he's done his best to put those rumors to sleep over the past month.