What every NFL fan base should be thankful for this Thanksgiving
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Fourth Quarter Sports! We hope you enjoy your day with family, friends and football. Can’t forget about the food! Thanksgiving day features three NFL games for us to enjoy. We’ve got the Bears vs Lions, Redskins vs Cowboys and Falcons vs Saints.
While not every fan base gets to enjoy watching their team play on Thanksgiving, every fan base has something to be thankful for. For a team like the New Orleans Saints, it’s easy to pick out what their thankful for. You could pick a whole lot of things! For other teams such as the Arizona Cardinals, finding something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving could be a little harder. Whether it’s easy or hard, every NFL fan base can find something.
If you’re a fan of one of those struggling teams and aren’t sure how to be thankful, let our team help you out. We’ve worked together to name one thing every NFL fan base should be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Teams are listed in their current spot for the playoffs. Let’s find out what your favorite NFL teams fanbase has to be thankful for this year!
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Andy Reid
From 2007-2012, the Chiefs had five losing seasons in six years. Before the 2013 season, the Chiefs made a splash, hiring Andy Reid to lead the team. Since then, he’s gone 62-29, winning the AFC West twice. True, he’s only got one playoff victory in that time, but much more importantly, he’s changed the culture within the Chiefs organization. He’s led them out of the darkness from the final years of Carl Peterson and the entire Scott Pioli tenure.
With Reid at the helm, the Chiefs were confident enough to move on from veteran Alex Smith and hand over the starting quarterback gig to Patrick Mahomes II. The result, so far, has been great. A 9-2 record while first in the AFC. If Reid manages to win that elusive Super Bowl, he’s a lock for Canton and will forever be remembered in Kansas City. Even if he falls short, he’ll be remembered as the coach who turned around a moribund franchise and made it into a yearly contender. – Cullen Jekel
2. Pittsburgh Steelers: An Elite Defensive Line
Despite the Steelers being 7-2-1, this has been a rough season for them. It started with the Le’Veon Bell drama. That has put a distraction on this team all season long. It even resulted in a 1-2-1 start. After being winners of six straight, that seems to be behind them.
How have the Steelers been able to win six in a row? There are several reasons, but I’d argue the top reason is because of their defensive line. The defense hasn’t always been great as a whole, but they do have 37.0 sacks on the year. That leads the NFL. Their defensive line is putting constant pressure on opposing QBs, making things easier on the offense. Without this defensive line, the Steelers likely wouldn’t be where they are now. – Joel Deering
3. New England Patriots: WR Julian Edelman
Patriots fans are some of the lucky ones who can look back on the season so far and automatically receive positive memories before the negative. Rather than having to say “this could’ve been done better” or “that didn’t go the way it should’ve”, it is hard to pinpoint where the Patriots could have gone wrong.
Behind the Chiefs, their offense is arguably the best in the AFC, as both their running and passing game has been performing consistently. However, the passing game stands out this season with one major performer, that being WR Julian Edelman. Statistics alone speak louder than everything else, as in Edelman’s six games, he’s had 40 catches, resulting in 426 yards, which is an average of 71 per game. He’s also added two TDs. Brady’s favorite weapon is back. – Aman Huda
4. Houston Texans: Defense
After a terrible 0-3 start to the season, the Houston Texans have got themselves seven wins in a row. Now sitting at 7-3, Houston is leading their division and is currently in the fourth spot for the playoffs. How did they turn their season around? Defense.
In their first three games, the Texans allowed 20 points or more in every one. Since then, the Texans have only allowed 20 or more points three times in seven games. Two of the three times they did allow more than 20 points, they allowed 23 and 21. Their defense currently ranks sixth in points allowed per game, allowing an average of 20.5 points. Their defense has gone a long way so far this season, and a defense like that can go a long way when the playoffs come around. – Joel Deering
5. Los Angeles Chargers: QB Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers just doesn’t age. At 36 years of age, he’s having a career year and the end is far from sight. What keeps Rivers playing so well? His front office cares about winning. They’ve given him the tools to get the job done. This fan base is thankful for his many years of servitude and incredible records. They’re also thankful he’s having an MVP worthy season. – Christan Braswell
6. Baltimore Ravens: Rookie QB Lamar Jackson
There’s only one day a year the favorite birds of a Baltimore fan aren’t an Oriole and a Raven, and that day is today. Thanksgiving is a day of giving thanks and enjoying a big turkey dinner. This year the biggest thing the Ravens have to be thankful for is Lamar Jackson. In all honesty, this is a mix between thankfulness and hope, because his first NFL start on Sunday was far from perfect.
Yet, Ravens fans can point to Jackson’s 68% completion percentage, 267 total yards and tremendous athleticism as areas to be thankful for. Last and certainly not least, Jackson did just enough to get a win over the Bengals to keep Baltimore in the hunt for the last AFC Wild Card spot. There’s not a whole lot to be thankful for in Baltimore (aside from not being the Cleveland Browns), but Lamar Jackson has provided a new spark of hope in what looked to be a dying ember of a franchise. – Kevin Dannaher
7. Cincinnati Bengals: Depth at TE
Bengals fans should be thankful for depth at tight end. Year after year, we talk about the Bengals and their offense with QB Andy Dalton, RB Joe Mixon, WR A.J. Green and TE Tyler Eifert. But there’s always an injury issue with one or two players. The one who’s always injured is Tyler Eifert. He hasn’t played a full season in the NFL since like, never.
This season has been cut short for him again. That’s no problem for the Bengals, because they have depth to fill in. Both C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Kroft have done a good job filling the void Eifert left with his injury. Although they are not at the same skill level as Eifert, their presence has helped Dalton open up the play book and get everyone more involved. – RahimAli Merchant
8. Miami Dolphins: RB Frank Gore
The Miami Dolphins are a desperate franchise with no sense of direction. This fan base is thankful for the consistency that is Frank Gore. Multiple injuries couldn’t stop this man if they tried. He takes the pressure off of Brock Osweiler and can get the first down they need in crunch time. Gore is one of the greatest running backs of all time. – Christan Braswell
9. Indianapolis Colts: QB Andrew Luck Returning to Form
Andrew Luck didn’t have the best start to his return from injury. Over the first six weeks of the season, Luck completed 64.4% of his passes for 1,792 yards, 16 TDs and 8 INTs. Those numbers aren’t bad, but the INTs were a little high and were one of the reasons the Colts started off 1-5.
Since then, the Colts have won four straight games and have improved to 5-5. What changed? Over the last four games, Andrew Luck has completed 74.2% of his passes for 977 yards, 13 TDs and just one INT. Andrew Luck is playing his best football right now. The Colts have an uphill battle for a playoff spot, but Andrew Luck is doing everything he can to get them in. – Joel Deering
10. Tennessee Titans: Zigging While the Rest of the League Zags
Kudos to the Titans front office for zigging while the rest of the league zags. In this case, the Titans have heavily leaned on a ground-and-pound game while the league went toward a high-scoring-offense-while-praying–the-defense-gets-a-stop game. Sure, Tennessee is two games back of the Houston Texans, but they beat Houston in Week Two and get another crack at them this week.
Win this game in Houston and the AFC South is suddenly crowded at the top. First-year head coach, Mike Vrabel, didn’t make any big changes when he took over for Mike Mularkey. It’s because of that the Titans remain in contention. The recipe for victory in Nashville remains the same: control the clock with the ground game and suffocate the opponent with a relentless pass-rush. So far, that’s equaled a 5-5 record with a manageable schedule the rest of the way. – Cullen Jekel
11. Denver Broncos: LB Von Miller
The Denver Broncos are terrible this year, but no one expected it to be this tragic. Case Keenum isn’t living up to his contract and John Elway seems to be losing his magical touch when it comes to his most recent personnel decisions.
What these fans do have to be thankful for, is Von Miller. The consummate professional and incredible defender, he is the heart and soul of the team. Without him, the defense would be lost and the offense would never get on the field. – Christan Braswell
12. Cleveland Browns: Rookie QB Baker Mayfield
After winning once in two seasons, who thought the Browns could even win a game this year? No one. I bet you not even Browns’ fans themselves thought much of the team. The first three games of this season were eye-opening. They drew their first game 21-21 with the Steelers, nearly defeated the high powered Saints, and then finally found that win against the Jets.
What happened in that 21-17 win over the Jets? QB Baker Mayfield replaced QB Tyrod Taylor and belief was restored. Although the Browns have not been a serious contender to make the playoffs, when the Browns do perform well, Mayfield’s involved. In their shocking win over the Atlanta Falcons, Mayfield completed an astounding 85% of his passes. If the Browns keep hold of Mayfield, only more wins are to come in the future. At the Thanksgiving table, Browns fans should either thank Mayfield himself, or perhaps fate itself for bringing Mayfield to them. – Aman Huda
13. Jacksonville Jaguars: Bad Play By QB Blake Bortles
Why would a fan base be thankful for bad play from their starting QB? Well, with every bad game Blake Bortles has, the higher the chances are they finally get rid of him. Blake Bortles wasn’t the answer at QB when he was drafted, and he’s still not the answer now.
His best season statistically came in 2015, when he ended with a passer rating of 88.2. This season his passer rating is 84.3. His career passer rating is 81.2. Does that look like a passer rating of a franchise QB? No. They got away with it last season, but the defense hasn’t been able to carry Blake Bortles again this year. Jacksonville will be picking at the top of the draft, and they should really consider drafting a replacement for Bortles. – Joel Deering
14. Buffalo Bills: QB Nate Peterman Being Gone
This team has had nothing but poor QB play this season. It hasn’t mattered if the QB was rookie Josh Allen or a seasoned veteran in Derek Anderson, the QB play has been bad. One of those QBs to give bad performances was QB Nate Peterman.
In his short NFL career, Peterman has a completion percentage of 52.3%, while throwing for 548 yards, three TDs and 12 INTS. While the Bills still have problems at QB, at least the fans don’t have to worry about ever seeing Nate Peterman suit up for them again. – Joel Deering
15. New York Jets: Being Favorites to Sign RB Le’Veon Bell
After getting destroyed by the Bills 41-10 in their last game, the Jets have hit rock bottom. The team is 3-7, Sam Darnold hasn’t looked like a franchise QB in his rookie season and Todd Bowles is on the verge of losing his job. So what’s there to be thankful for? Well it’s not something to be thankful for this season.
With former Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell not being able to play the rest of the year, there have already been several predictions as to where he may end up next season. One of the favorites to land Bell has been the Jets. When you’re team has been given one of the best chances at landing a talent like Bell, you should be thankful. – Joel Deering
16. Oakland Raiders: Three First-Round Draft Picks in 2019
There hasn’t been much to be thankful for for the Raiders this season. They’re a terrible team who has been heavily scrutinized for shipping away their best players. While the Raiders’ season is lost, the fans have the NFL Draft to look forward to. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Raiders have three first-round selections to build their team.
The question is, will Jon Gruden make the right picks with those three first-rounders? We won’t know until much later, but just having three picks in the first-round should make Raiders fans excited for the NFL Draft. – Joel Deering
1. Los Angeles Rams: Sean McVay
Rams fans are thankful for Sean McVay…. That’s all we need to say! If they didn’t decide to move on from Jeff Fisher, they would be wasting all the talented, young players they have right now. Plus, having McVay allows the players to feel like he is one of their own, with him being so young.
The Rams’ front office has even given into the idea of McVay. They made several different moves on the offensive and defensive sides to make this Rams team one of the best in franchise history, including the greatest show of turf! – RahimAli Merchant
2. New Orleans Saints: The Drew Brees and Sean Payton Combo
The Saints should be thankful for the Brees and Payton combo. Since these two have been together, they have always been one of the league’s top teams. They haven’t always won the division or conference, but they have won a Super Bowl together. Frankly, I think this could be the year they do it again.
After losing in Week One to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brees and Payton have put the pedal to the medal and never looked back. Although I think they are beatable, Saints fans have to love how their team is playing right now. – RahimAli Merchant
3. Chicago Bears: Matt Nagy
The Bears have Head Coach Matt Nagy to be thankful for. While their defense is one of the hot topics in the league, Nagy has turned the Chicago Bears’ offense into a unit that can consistently put up points. The fact that Nagy worked as an offensive coordinator under Andy Reid for the last 10 seasons, both in Philadelphia and Kansas City, shows he means business and knows what he’s doing.
The Chiefs’ offense was fifth in the NFL with Nagy as the sole offensive coordinator in 2017. Since coming to Chicago, Nagy has really seemed to give the offense the confidence it lacked last year. Mitchell Trubisky throws the ball at all ranges, so much more confidently than his rookie season under John Fox, and boy does it ever show. The Bears have wide receivers and a line that helps keep Trubisky off the ground. The offense he’s built has put the Bears in position to win now and in the future. – Dan Piersma
4. Washington Redskins: Veteran Leadership
Currently sitting atop the NFC East at 6-4, Washington wouldn’t be there without veteran leadership. Over the offseason, Washington let quarterback Kirk Cousins walk, replacing him with Alex Smith. After rookie running back Derrius Guice tore his ACL in the pre-season, the team signed future Hall-of-Famer Adrian Peterson off the scrap heap.
Sixth-year tight end Jordan Reed leads the team in receptions and receiving yards, while tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns. On defense, vets like safety D.J. Swearinger, linebacker Mason Foster and pass-rusher Ryan Kerrigan have led Washington to the fifth-ranked defense in the league (points against). Now, Peterson, Reed and the defenders must keep the rest of the team together and focused in light of Smith’s season-ending leg injury. – Cullen Jekel
5. Carolina Panthers: Superman
Panthers fans are grateful for Superman. QB Cam Newton is the Panthers Superman. He lets the whole world know it when he runs for a touchdown, it’s kind of became a part of the type of player he is. Newton is a former league MVP and has continuously fought his way into the postseason.
They’re looking like they could very well be on their way there again this season, but hopefully it’s more than just a wild card game. I’m sure Cam Newton will do everything in his power to avoid his opponents kryponite and make this year another one to remember. – RahimAli Merchant
6. Minnesota Vikings: WRs Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs
Vikings fans are thankful they have played the 49ers, Jets, Lions, Cardinals and Eagles this season to get five wins this year – teams with a combined 15-35 record. Oh, and let us not forget about how thankful we should be for Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs playing receiver. Both will likely eclipse 100 catches to become the first duo to each go over 100 since 2009 (Reggie Wayne/Dallas Clark, Colts), and just the fifth duo to ever do so. Kirk Cousins is definitely thankful. – Adam Hatlan
7. Seattle Seahawks: The Twelve
Seahawks fans are grateful to be part of “the twelve.” Whether it’s during the time of back-to-back Super Bowl runs or just pure dominance of their division, Seahawks fans have been their for them. They cheer for the Seahawks through all the tough times, even if that means the Seahawks miss the playoffs for the first time in five years like they did last year.
Or even with all the players on defense getting traded, retiring, or repeatedly hurt. That has also been one thing that is constant about Seahawks fans. It is something to always be grateful for, even if they miss the playoffs again this season and the team starts to decline. Seahawks fans know they have one of the best fan bases in the NFL. – RahimAli Merchant
8. Dallas Cowboys: WR Amari Cooper
Dallas has struggled for the majority of the season to get something consistently going on offense. They’ve had Ezekiel Elliott, but teams were so focused on him because they knew nobody was on the outside as a receiving threat. That’s why the Cowboys made the trade for WR Amari Cooper. Since joining Dallas, Cooper has 14 receptions for 169 yards and one TD. Those numbers aren’t huge, but his impact has been.
Cooper gives the Cowboys a downfield threat they didn’t have before. This has opened everything up for Ezekiel Elliott in the run game and Dad Prescott in the passing game. Against the Atlanta Falcons last week, Cooper was frequently double teamed. That took away a stacked box against Zeke, while also clearing more space for WRs such as Cole Beasley. Even if Cooper doesn’t put up big numbers, his presence is something every Cowboys fan should be thankful for as the Cowboys try to take the division lead today. -Joel Deering
9. Green Bay Packers: RB Aaron Jones
The Packers are thankful for Aaron – wait for it – Aaron…Jones? Yes, Aaron Jones. The recent emergence of Aaron Jones as an explosive player in the Packers’ offense gives the Packers their own version of Kareem Hunt and someone to take some pressure off Aaron Rodgers. Maybe he helps them rattle off six wins in a row and make the playoffs. Now if only he had a head coach who knew how to utilize him properly… – Adam Hatlan
10. Atlanta Falcons: QB Matt Ryan
Falcons fans are thankful for Matt Ryan! I know there’s always been questions of whether or not Matt Ryan is one of the elite QBs in the league, but let’s be honest with ourselves. After all the defensive injuries the Falcons have had, Ryan has done whatever he could to help the Falcons win.
The 4-6 Falcons have been one of the best offenses in the league. Ryan has done a great job getting all his weapons involved, especially rookies Ito Smith and Calvin Ridley. He hasn’t let the injury of Devontae Freeman impact him or the offense. Falcons fans can finally say it wasn’t his fault, but rather it was the defense. – RahimAli Merchant
11. Detroit Lions: Matt Patricia
The Lions are 4-6 on the year with six games left to play. Albeit a disappointing season so far, Matt Patricia is doing a great job with what he’s been given. The franchise and fans have him to be thankful for. He has his defense playing hard and fast, and it’s shown as of late.
Not only did they beat a high powered Carolina Panthers offense, they stopped them from converting a two point conversion to end the game. He was the right choice for that city in particular. – Christan Braswell
12. Philadelphia Eagles: A Weak NFC East
The reigning Super Bowl champs are 4-6. Not exactly ideal when you just won the Super Bowl one season ago. It’s even less ideal with their starting QB back from injury. The good news for the Eagles is, the NFC East is a weak division this year. The division leaders are the 6-4 Redskins, with the Cowboys at 5-5.
Washington just lost QB Alex Smith, which puts them in a bad spot. If Dallas wins today against them, they’ll both be 6-5. The week after that, the Cowboys play the Saints, likely dropping them to 6-6. If the Redskins also lose and the Eagles win their next couple of games, they’ll be tied for the division lead. Even though they’re two games back in the division and are 4-6, there’s still hope to make the playoffs. – Joel Deering
13. New York Giants: Rookie RB Saquon Barkley
While the Giants are having a bad year, rookie RB Saquon Barkley is not. Barkley has shown why he was picked number two overall in the NFL Draft. He’s carried the ball 158 times for 728 yards and seven TDS. He’s also added 64 receptions for 540 yards and three TDs.
Saquon Barkley is already one of the better RBs in the league, and he’ll continue to be for years and years. While the Giants don’t have a QB, fans should be thankful they have Barkley to make many many plays for them over the course of his career. – Joel Deering
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Ryan Fitzmagic
Reading this may feel like a satirical piece based on Tampa Bay’s three wins this season, but those three wins had magic. Two of them had Fitzmagic. Looking at QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s stats this season may cause one’s eyes to roll, but when compared to his previous seasons, there’s actually improvement. Valuable improvement.
His completion rate has gone up about eight percent, resulting in ten more touchdowns than last season and about 1,200 more passing yards! Also, those two wins in which Fitzpatrick was involved? They were against the team currently first in the NFC South (Saints) and last seasons Super Bowl winners (Eagles). So although Tampa Bay’s season may end before the playoffs, they can look to Ryan Fitzpatrick for the positives so far. – Aman Huda
15. Arizona Cardinals: RB David Johnson
Though the Cardinals are 2-8, the fans should be thankful they still have one of the more exciting playmakers in the league in running back David Johnson. Johnson floundered at the start of the year under the now-fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, but he’s gotten back into the mix under Byron Leftwich.
Despite playing behind a porous offensive line, Johnson can turn any play into a big play, and he’s a great weapon for rookie quarterback Josh Rosen. It’s obviously a lost season in the desert, but the Cardinals should be bullish in the near future (with whomever the head coach may be), with Johnson under contract for the next two seasons. – Cullen Jekel
16. San Francisco 49ers: QB Nick Mullens
Nick Mullens has been nearly perfect for the franchise thus far. First, he wows with a breakout performance against the Oakland Raiders, just to show the future of the 49ers is bright and he is a capable quarterback. Then, to preserve the 49ers tanking status this season (which began the moment Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL), he throws two interceptions against the New York Giants.
Mullens is like that guy at work who doesn’t want to be too good at his job, but good enough to raise some eyebrows and keep his name in conversations at the water cooler. So far, the man is hitting the right notes…as long as his tanking act against the Giants was just that – an act. But hey, if not? Garoppolo will return and the Niners will make it back to the postseason. That’s something for which every 49ers fan would be thankful. – Joshua Cartwright