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Six NFL teams look to rebound on Thanksgiving Day

by Michael Hanich | November 23, 2021 at 5:48 p.m.

Thanksgiving is a time for many people and families to give thanks. It is also one of the biggest days of the year for the NFL in the regular season.

There will be three matchups on Thanksgiving Day, with the Detroit Lions (0-9-1) and the Dallas Cowboys (7-3) hosting their usual Thanksgiving games.

All six teams playing this Thanksgiving Day have not had much to be thankful for all season. These teams need a big win on one of the biggest regular-season NFL stages to get their seasons back on track.

1. Chicago Bears (3-7) at Detroit Lions (0-9-1)

This game might be one of the worst Thanksgiving Day matchups in NFL history. The Lions have had moments where they almost won some big games, but they fell short so many times.

The Bears, on the other hand, have one of the worst offenses in the league, despite having a high-caliber rookie quarterback Justin Fields. Last Sunday, in the 16-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Fields suffered a rib injury that may keep him from the matchup versus the Lions. Chicago head coach Matt Nagy may start Andy Dalton regardless of Fields' availability to keep him from getting injured.

Chicago's offense ranks 29th in the league in points per game (16.3), while Detroit ranks 30th in the league in points per game (16). While Chicago's defense is more efficient than Detroit's, the Bears will be without star outside linebacker Khalil Mack, who underwent a foot surgery that has prevented him from playing.

Detroit will have the best chance to get their first win of the season on Thanksgiving. They have the more electric playmakers on offense with running back D'Andre Swift and tight end T.J. Hockenson. Detroit had not won a game on Thanksgiving since 2016, when they defeated the Minnesota Vikings 16-13.

2. Las Vegas Raiders (5-5) at Dallas Cowboys (7-3)

Both the Raiders and the Cowboys are teams that need a big win to get their playoff potential back on track. The Raiders have had a tough season on and off the field, having had to release head coach Jon Gruden, wide receiver Henry Ruggs III and cornerback Damon Arnette for off-the-field issues. The Raiders have lost three consecutive games, with the first loss being at the New York Giants, 23-16.

Dallas has lost two of their last three games with poor performances on both sides of the ball. The Cowboys will need to be more efficient in defending the opposing passing game from star cornerback Trevon Diggs. They will need a strong run game on the offensive side of the ball; they averaged 80 rushing yards per game in the losses to Denver and Kansas City. They are highly explosive when the offense clicks, as they average 29.3 points per game (third in the league).

The Raiders' offense needs to be more well-balanced as they need more run support. Dallas has lost their last two Thanksgiving Day matchups, having last one a holiday matchup in the 2018 31-23 win over Washington.

3. Buffalo Bills (6-4) at New Orleans Saints (5-5)

A few weeks ago, this matchup would have been the game to watch this season. The Saints have suffered three consecutive losses following the season-ending injury to quarterback Jameis Winston. Their offense hasn't stalled much with Trevor Siemian at quarterback, but the receiver corps and tight ends are playing poorly. It doesn't help that tight end Adam Trautman will miss four to six weeks with a sprained MCL.

Buffalo is also a team that has suffered a significant losing streak. Buffalo has lost three of their last five games after starting the season 4-1. The high-powered offense for Buffalo started the season strong but has regressed significantly in the past four games. Buffalo averaged 33.8 points per game in the first six games but has averaged 23 points per game in the last four games. Their offensive line play has to step up against the efficient defensive line of New Orleans.

Saints head coach Sean Payton will need to find ways of exploiting Buffalo's defense that is ranked second in the league in points allowed per game (17.6). New Orleans' defense needs to be ready for the electric passing duo of Bills quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

Print Headline: Six NFL teams look to rebound on Thanksgiving Day

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