If you’re around my age, you grew up watching John Madden talk about turduckens and give out his Turkey Leg Award to the game’s best player. It was as much a part of Thanksgiving as gravy, your uncle saying something vaguely racist, or “going for a walk” with your cousins. We may no longer have John Madden on our screens, but football is still an incredibly integral part of Thanksgiving Day. It is the centerpiece of one of the best gambling weeks of the year, but it doesn’t go without its challenges. You want to be able to take advantage of the gambling extravaganza but don’t want your relatives to label you as a “degenerate” or a “disgrace to the family.” That’s where I come in. Here’s a schedule and some tips to successfully get you through the day:

10:00 AM- Pour your first drink of the day. You don’t NEED to drink all day but it’s a good idea to start your day with one to get your mind right. Maybe a mimosa or bloody mary? I personally think the screwdriver is the GOAT of breakfast beverages but you can’t really go wrong.

11:00 AM- This might be the most important step of all: I know it’s hard, but try to have all your bets in for the day before the first game starts and before you start drinking heavily. When you’ve had a few beers and are looking for any possible excuse to avoid your family, it’s easy to start betting the o/u on Tim Boyle passing yards and that’s how you end up losing all your money by dinner time and taking your anger out on your least favorite nephew. Get the action in early and then just enjoy the day.

12:00 PM- The first college basketball game of the day tips off with Michigan State/UConn. It’d be the smart thing to do to have some action on this game to get the blood pumping and warm up your wallet. Feel free to sprinkle on a few CBB games throughout the day for when you inevitably start feeling suicidal watching Bears/Lions.

12:30 PM- NFL action starts and we’re all betting on the Lions +3. Their Thanksgiving misery has gone on long enough and this could be the Lions’ last chance for a win this season. Dan Campbell should get the boys up to try to steal a win here on Turkey Day. That being said, not a bad game to just bet a 1H under and get any errands/chores out of the way before the day really gets going.

3:30 PM- This is the first CFB game of the day. We’re rolling with San Jose State +7.5 in this one. SJSU is playing for their bowl livelihoods and has a secondary that can match up with Jake Haener. Offensively, Nick Starkel’s old ass should have enough experience to hang around here.

4:00 PM- First NFL game ends. You’ve had several dad beers. Depending on when your family does the meal, this could be the witching hour in the kitchen. Everything is close to being done and it’s now a madhouse to try to get everything ready at the same time. Perfect time to find an upstairs bathroom, toss in a dip, clear out the system before the big meal, and look at Instagram stories of everyone else’s Thanksgiving plates even though you don’t care at all.

4:30 PM- Second NFL game of the day. You’re inevitably placing first TD bets after the horror show the Lions just put on in the first game. In this one, the safe play is just to throw the Cowboys in a teaser down to -1.5 (second leg coming later). Vegas is in disarray and while they are a prime backdoor candidate, the Cowboys should bounce back from their Chiefs matchup and get a W here.

5:00 PM- Dinner is served. If you can, try to score a seat at the table where you can see the TV. In my family, not everyone is going to fit at the dining room table this year, so my dad and I quickly volunteered to sit at a second table in the kitchen where we’ll have our own TV and don’t even have to pretend to not be watching football. Vet move.

7:00 PM- You’ve eaten more than even you thought you could. You feel sick to your stomach and you can’t tell if you’re too drunk, too full, or if it’s because the Cowboys are losing midway through the 3rd (HINT: it’s all three). Take a nap on the couch. Best case you wake up and the Cowboys came back, worst case you lost but you’re rejuvenated for a few more hours of SPORTS!

7:30 PM- You wake up to the dulcet tones of Joe Tessitore getting the party started in Starkville. You feel the inspiration of the Lane Train coursing through your body and go pour yourself another drink and get ready to cheer for too many edge of your seat 4th down conversions. I’m going with my Rebs to the end of the earth and wouldn’t dream of going against them in their season finale. Rebs plus the points.

8:20 PM- Hopefully you’re back home or wherever you’re staying for the night and don’t have to worry about pretending to socialize anymore. Get the Egg Bowl on one screen, Bills/Saints on the other, and fall asleep with a Great Lakes Christmas Ale in your hand. Hopefully, you wake up late in the fourth quarter to Ole Miss and the Bills both leading because the Bills down to a PK will be our other teaser leg with the Boys. I’m also rolling with the Bills/Saints under for a unit.

2:16 AM- Wake up in a cold sweat on the couch wondering what happened, where you are, and how much you’re going to have to win the rest of the weekend to make back your biggest bet of the day which was for some reason Dawson Knox to score 2+ TDs.

Bonus Tips:

-When your family asks why you’re so invested in a Lions/Bears game when you’ve never even left the East Coast, tell them it’s because of fantasy football. Even cool families can get weird if you talk about gambling.

-Find the cool uncle/cousin/parent that knows you gamble and hopefully gambles themselves that you can vent with throughout the day. You’ll need the support.

-In all seriousness, eat all you can eat, drink all you can drink, and bet whatever you’re willing to lose because it truly is one of the most special days of the year. Enjoy the family time and the sports galore- you CAN do both and you’ll regret missing out on either aspect.

Hopefully y’all find that advice helpful and it can get you through the big holiday without bringing too much shame on your family. Happy Turkey Day to all. I’m thankful for anyone reading this right now and appreciate all the support so far this season. Let’s have a monster weekend and finish this season strong.

Full Thursday Card:

1.5u Lions +3

1u SJSU +7.5

1.5u DAL -1.5, BUF PK teaser

1u BUF/NO u45.5

1.5u Ole Miss +1.5