The best Thanksgiving triple-header in NFL history will unfold in two days, with dessert being perhaps the best of the three courses.
West vs. East, NFC vs. AFC. For the first time ever, brother vs. brother.
But Jim Harbaugh, coach of the 49ers, says he isn’t feeling “warm and fuzzy” about playing John Harbaugh’s Ravens. Instead, Jim apparently is feeling a little nauseous.
“There’s no question that we drew the short end of the straw on this one,” Harbaugh said, via Matt Kawahara of the Sacramento Bee.
“We’re going against a team that is in our opinion the best team that we’ve played this season, maybe the best team that we play all season, the best defense without question,” Harbaugh said. “A lot of things to overcome this week.”
It’s not yet excuse-making (indeed, the Niners may not need to make any excuses come Friday). More importantly, Jim Harbaugh has a point. Though the NFL has done a good job of ensuring that teams playing on the road with four days between games are playing at home in the first game (thereby eliminating a second travel obligation), there’s still a disadvantage, if the home team for the Thursday game also had a home game on the prior Sunday. Because Baltimore hosted Cincinnati this past weekend, John Harbaugh will be able to get the Ravens ready without traveling at all.
The better approach would have been to send the Ravens to Seattle not in Week 10, but in Week 11. Then, both the 49ers and the Ravens would have had to factor a cross-country flight into the 96 hours or so that they have to get ready for what could be one of the most meaningful games of the regular season.
An even better approach this year, given the manner in which the lockout screwed up the bye week scheduling, would have been to give all six teams set to play on Thanksgiving a bye in Week 11.