Thanksgiving NFL Preview: Bills play second straight in Detroit while Minnesota hopes to get back on track vs. New England

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/AP/Shutterstock (13577596ay) Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs onto the field before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, in Minneapolis Cardinals Vikings Football, Minneapolis, United States – 30 Oct 2022

Thanksgiving NFL Preview: Bills play second straight in Detroit while Minnesota hopes to get back on track vs. New England

Buffalo Bills (7-3) at Detroit Lions (4-6)

Time/TV: 11:30 a.m. CT/CBS

Thanksgiving football is a tradition as American as eating turkey and always begins with a home game for the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. This year, they’ll take on the Buffalo Bills, who just played in Detroit four days prior against the Cleveland Browns in a game relocated due to record-setting snowfall. Buffalo elected not to stay in Detroit to practice for the week, instead returning home for several days. The Lions, suddenly one of the hottest teams in the NFL, have won three straight – two on the road.

Buffalo’s win over the Browns snapped a two-game losing streak and saw the Bills score 30 or more points for the fifth time this season despite getting off to a slow start offensively. The Bills will look to start faster Thursday afternoon against the Lions, who enter the game having allowed more points than any team in the NFL. Given Buffalo’s defensive injuries, it’s possible they may need another 30+ point effort in what should be a high-scoring game. Three players in Buffalo’s front seven have missed practice time this week, Tremaine Edmunds, A.J. Epenesa, and Greg Rousseau.

Detroit is more than capable of taking advantage of a banged-up defense, especially on their home turf at Ford Field. The Lions are averaging 31.5 points per game at home, involving themselves in shootout after shootout, with the exception of their win over Green Bay three weeks ago. With running back D’Andre Swift banged up most of the season, Jamaal Williams has been tremendous in his first year in Detroit. The veteran running back already has 12 touchdowns this season, including three in last week’s win at MetLife Stadium.

New England Patriots (6-4) at Minnesota Vikings (8-2)

Time/TV: 7:20 p.m. CT/NBC

The New England Patriots head to U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for the NFL’s Thanksgiving nightcap against the Minnesota Vikings, where they will seek a fourth consecutive win. The Vikings, meanwhile, saw their seven-game win streak come crashing down last Sunday in a blowout loss at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. Minnesota’s defense allowed 40 points in that one, an ugly loss that was already in the bag before halftime.

The Vikings were dominated by Dallas’ defensive front in the loss last week. Kirk Cousins was sacked seven times in that game and never had time to find his elite offensive playmakers downfield. Minnesota’s two losses this season to Dallas and Philadelphia are to teams who rank in the top three in the NFL in sacks – it’s understandably concerning for the Vikings, then, that New England ranks second in the league with 36 sacks coming into Thursday’s game. The Patriots’ defense allowed just 103 yards in the win last week over the Jets and hasn’t allowed a touchdown in more than three weeks.

On offense, New England hasn’t been nearly as dominant. Quarterback Mac Jones has only passed for four touchdowns all season while being intercepted seven times, last passing for a score all the way back on October 30. The Patriots’ offense hasn’t scored more than twice in a game since Oct. 24, relying instead on defensive and special teams dominance to push their way into contention in the AFC Playoff picture.

Reading between the lines, it isn’t difficult to tell what kind of game each team is more comfortable playing. While New England hopes to lower the number of possessions in the game and lean on dominant defense, the Vikings are much more comfortable in an offensive track meet. Whichever team better controls the scoring tempo has a good chance to win, as Minnesota hopes to prove the legitimacy of their 8-2 mark while New England hopes to compete atop the AFC East.

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