Thursday Football: Thanksgiving Edition
NFL football has become an age-old Thanksgiving tradition. It's the perfect thing to pair with a delicious meal and spending time with your loved ones. Plus, it gives you a good excuse to plop down on the couch and pass out when the inevitable food coma arrives.
The NFL has gone to a three game Thanksgiving schedule in recent years. Here is who is playing in 2021.
Bears @ Lions
This is a traditional NFC North rivalry and actually the same matchup as the inaugural Thanksgiving game in 1934. The Lions have had a rough season--and a rough past few years-- and are looking for their first win this season.
They've found recent success in the running game recently, and teams have been able to run the ball on the Bears this season, which could allow De'ANdre Swift to have a big game. THe defense has a bunch of unknown players but has been shutting down opposing offenses. It should also help that QB Jared Goff returns to the lineup after missing a game.
The Bears have been a better team since Justin Fields took over at quarterback but will be playing without him today. Backup ANdy Dalton doesn't bring the same kind of threat yet is a serviceable veteran quarterback. Plus, the Lions have been known to allow some big games to backup quarterbacks in the past. Without Allen Robinson however, the Bears' passing game does not pose as much of a threat, so watch David Montgomery today.
These teams are pretty evenly matched in terms of their current healthy roster, which will be unfortunate for the rest of America. I'm expecting a really ugly game, but, hey, at least its football.
This will be the first game of the day and will air on FOX at 12:30 PM ET.
Raiders @ Cowboys
Two more traditional NFL teams meet in this one. The Raiders and Cowboys were both powerful teams throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Both teams have fallen off since then but are in the hunt in their respective conferences.
The Cowboys' success goes through their offense--more specifically quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott is the leader that makes the team run smoothly. Every aspect of the team plays better with him healthy. We know they have a great passing game, even if CeeDee Lamb misses this one. Today, I think the running game needs to do more. They seemed to abandon it last week, but this is a Vegas team that you can play a balanced game against.
The Las Vegas Raiderzs have surprised me this season. The offense was expected to be good and has been for a majority of the season. The defense has made huge strides, and Maxx Crosby is emerging as a star at defensive end. However, both sides have struggled in the past three weeks and the team has gone 0-3 without reaching the 20 point mark during that time. To me, that tells me the offense is not producing and staying on the field long enough.
We'll see if that can change today.
This game airs on CBS at 4:30 PM ET.
Bills @ Saints
Suddenly a big game for both teams. Buffalo comes in holding second place in the AFC East behind the New England Patriots. New Orleans is 5-5 and holding the final NFC playoff spot.
Buffalo's situation is a bit of a head-scratcher. On paper, the Bills have one of the best teams in the league, but there have been times this season where it has not translated on the field.
After having its biggest offensive season in years and an appearance in the AFC Championship game, everyone expected Buffalo to take the next step. However, this season, the Bills have finished three games with 16 points or less and have an inexplicable 9-6 loss to Jacksonville.
The Saints are in second place in the NFC South behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They've been very inconsistent this year, beating teams like the Packers, Patriots, and Buccaneers but losing to lesser teams like the Giants, Falcons, and Panthers. New Orleans seems to have found a better rhythm, particularly on defense, but injuries continue to pile up and expectations waiver week to week.
Teams have been beating Buffalo with big games from singular offensive players and great defensive efforts. You know you'll get the effort from the Saints defense, but the offensive part is where the questions lie. New Orleans doesn't have a particularly deep offensive roster and will without its best player in running back Alvin Kamara. Not to mention, they've been playing with backup quarterbacks.
So, can New Orleans get someone to step up?
This game airs on NBC at 8:20 PM ET.