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Thanksgiving Jumbo Package: We’re grateful for you...and healthier linebackers

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Injury updates, NFL milestones, Iron Bowl prep and more

Alabama v Florida State Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

You’re up early checking the bird, may as well read some ‘Bama news.

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Let’s get Hyyyyyyyyype. It’s being called the most important Iron Bowl of the century. The numbers seem to bear that too.

This game has tended to come as one or both teams are peaking late in the season. In all but one year since 2009, the winner of this game has gone on to play for the BCS or CFP National Championship. That possibility is again on the horizon. The winner of this game will meet Georgia for a de facto play-in game. The advanced stats put this one about as close to a toss-up as you can get: Alabama a 2.8-point winner (56% chance of victory.) Good preview by Bill Connelly here.

Auburn is the really sexy pick this week. As if the team needed any more motivation, being told that their hopes and dreams die in Lee Country is probably some added incentive. In many respects, this reminds me of the backs-to-the-wall 2015 Georgia game, and Saban tends to motivate his well when the odds are (allegedly) stacked against them. Let’s hope for a similar result as that soggy beatdown in Athens.

For the Tide to make Atlanta, the mission is simple: Stopping Kerryon Johnson, one of the SEC’s most complete players

Obviously of concern is Alabama’s injury situation. It looks like J.C. Hassenauer will likely get the nod over Ross Pierschbacher, whose ankle is still banged up. Senior kicker Andy Pappanastos is also winged, having pulled a muscled a few weeks ago. He is a game-time decision. Other game day decisions include a trio of Tide linebackers who have practiced -- or not; who have been medically cleared — or not; who are in physical or mental game shape to contribute -- or not. Saban was very candid, and in many respects, doubtful as to whether Mack Wilson, Terrell Lewis, and Christian Miller would play many snaps.

"I can't sit here and tell you that any of them are healthy enough to play in the game," Saban said Wednesday night. "Not healthy enough is probably not the right word. Not able to practice enough to be able to be in the kind of playing shape they need to be in to be able to go out there and do their job is going to be a decision that we have to make from A, a medical standpoint and B, how much were they able to do, can they be effective and C, do they feel like they can go out there and do their job relative to where they've been effective and how they've been able to be effective in practice? And that's not going to really happen until the game."

The incredibly flaky Committee rankings this past Tuesday, fueled by even flakier ad hoc justifications for them, have given rise to several conspiracy theories.

Atlanta Falcons v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Julio Jones is on the verge of owning some NFL records:

The most receptions that an NFL player has made in his first 90 games are 558, accomplished by wide receiver Anquan Boldin of the Arizona Cardinals from 2003 through 2009.

The most receiving yards that a league player has gained in his first 90 games are 8,502, accomplished by wide receiver Lance Alworth of the San Diego Chargers from 1962 through 1969.

An eight-catch, 107-yard performance against the Bucs would put Jones in possession of both of those achievements. In Atlanta's most recent game against Tampa Bay, Jones caught eight passes for 111 yards.

Julio isn’t the only one showing out. For the first time in 15 years, two players from the same school were named divisional players of the week. That school would be Alabama, the players would be Landon Collins (NFC Defensive Player of the Week) and Mark Ingram (NFL Offensive Player of the Week.) That’ll help the ole’ recruiting profile, eh?

Don’t know if you saw this, but Collin Sexton’s main competition for Dominating Diaper Dandy, Mizzou’s Michael Porter Jr., is out for the season. Counzo Martin and Co. were banking on a special season, with Porter as the linchpin of the Tigers’ return to excellence. It won’t happen this season: His college career is over after three games. That takes a lot of shine off the Jan. 31 meeting between these two teams in Coleman Coliseum.

Speaking of hoops, we’ll have a preview a bit later on the funky Barclay Center Classic round-robin in which Alabama is participating. But, for now, here’s Collin Sexton’s first interview as a member of the Crimson Tide.

Alabama sophomore quarterback, Jalen Hurts, is a semifinalist for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose award, an award for which he was a finalist in 2016. The ECTR is given to:

the “top offensive player in NCAA Division I that exhibits the enduring characteristics that define Earl Campbell: integrity, performance, teamwork, sportsmanship, drive, community and tenacity.” The recipient must have been born in the state of Texas, attended a Texas high school or attend a Texas junior college or university.

Big Da’Ron Payne, who has some things to say about the Iron Bowl.

And, finally, we leave you with this bad ass “Making the Cut,” featuring Alabama’s running game. For all the talk of Auburn’s ground game, the Tide rolls a legit five-deep, each with different skills and ways to hurt you...We may need every last one of them Saturday too.

We’ll have some more for you later today: Barclay preview, Auburn defensive preview, the Iron Bowl pod feat. an interview with ESPN/SEC’s Laura Rutledge (seriously, Brad and Wesley are getting great guests.) And, later tonight, we’ll have Egg Bowl coverage/hate-thread for you. That game is going to be super nasty.

Go enjoy your food, family, friends, football...we’ll be here when you’re tired of them. LOL.