Preview of the 2021 NFL Thanksgiving Games


Tyler Krebs, Sports Writer

It’s that time of year again! The NFL is doing their Thanksgiving Day games on November 25 and some of these matchups should be pretty fun. The NFL has 3 games this year with each being on a different network. The Bears and the Lions in Ford Field are on FOX, the Raiders and the Cowboys in AT&T Stadium are on CBS, and the Bills and the Saints in the Superdome are on NBC. Now, I will explain the matchups between these 6 teams and give my predictions.

 Bears vs Lions

 The Bears and the Lions is a pretty common matchup on Thanksgiving Day. The Chicago Bears so far this season are 3-7 this year, and don’t look like they’ll get better anytime soon. The Bears are also third in the NFC North behind the Packers and the Vikings, but above the Lions. They have won against the Bengals, Raiders, and Lions already in Chicago, but have lost to the Rams, Browns, Packers, Buccaneers, 49ers, Steelers, and Ravens. Chicago has also run into unfortunate injuries this season, with Khalil Mack suffering a season-ending foot injury, David Montgomery being out for a while, and now rookie QB Justin Fields suffering a rib injury against the Ravens in Week 11. This injury will keep him out of the game in Detroit, which leads to backup QB Andy Dalton starting. The Lions have had a dreadful season under good first year head coach Dan Campbell. Detroit is 0-9-1 this season, with losses to the 49ers, Packers, Ravens, Bears already, Vikings, Bengals, Rams, Eagles, and Browns. During these games, they lost on two game winning of field goals of 50+ yards, with a 66 yard field goal by Ravens kicker Justin Tucker and a 54 yard field goal by Vikings kicker Greg Joseph. However, the Lions do have a 16-16 tie versus the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game where Pittsburgh had backup QB Mason Rudolph at the helm. The Lions have also had injuries to QB Jared Goff, WR Quintez Cephus, center Frank Ragnow, LB Romeo Okwara, and second year CB Jeff Okudah, who’s out for the season. However, after Lions QB Jared Goff missed the tie against Pitsburgh, he will most likely play in the Thanksgiving game against the Bears. If he can’t go, backup QB Tim Boyle will start. As a result, I would give the Lions a very fair shot in this game, but the Bears will defiantly show up on defense behind LB Roquan Smith and LB Robert Quinn, which could cause many problems for Jared Goff because he is returning from injury.

Raiders vs Cowboys 

 The Las Vegas Raiders started the season really well, but problems off field have started to derail their year. The Raiders are 5-5 this season with victories against the Ravens, Steelers, Dolphins, Broncos, and Eagles. They have lost to the Chargers, Bears, Giants, Chiefs, and Bengals. The big storyline for this team this season has unfortunately been off field issues involving key positions. On October 11th, head coach Jon Gruden resigned after some inappropriate and horrible emails emerged, which caused Rich Bisaccia, who was the special teams coordinator, to step up as the interim head coach. Then, on November 11th, second year WR Henry Ruggs was taken into custody and eventually released by the Raiders following a fatal car crash where he was driving 156 mph. In this crash, a 23 year old woman named Tina Tutor died in the fire the crash caused. Currently, Henry Ruggs is on house arrest. Finally, second year CB Damon Arnette was also cut by Las Vegas after videos surfaced of him saying death threats while holding a firearm. This drama could also contribute to the 3-game losing streak they own going into this matchup versus the Cowboys. The Dallas Cowboys this season have on the other hand, had a great bounce-back year after a season ending injury to QB Dak Prescott in 2020. The Cowboys are 7-3 this season, with wins against the Chargers, Eagles, Panthers, Giants, Patriots, Vikings, and Falcons, but they have lost to the Buccaneers in Week 1, and 2 of their last 3 games versus the Broncos and Chiefs. Dallas has really had all this success from QB Dak Prescott, who has 2,557 yards, 20 touchdowns, and only 7 interceptions. The Cowboys unfortunately might be without WR Ceedee Lamb, who suffered a concussion last week against the Chiefs. They are also without WR Amari Cooper, who tested positive for COVID this week. As a result, I think this game could be pretty close, but the play of Dallas QB Dak Prescott and the recent play of Las Vegas QB Derek Carr, will lead to a Cowboys victory.

Bills vs Saints

 The Buffalo Bills this year started off really well, but have struggled mightily lately. The Bills are 6-4 this season, with wins against the Dolphins twice, Washington, Texans, Chiefs, and Jets. However, they have lost to the Steelers, Titans, JAGUARS, and Colts. In their recent games, they have really struggled to get the offense going, which has led to some interceptions from fantastic QB Josh Allen. Bills QB Josh Allen this year has 2,811 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. The New Orleans Saints have had a pretty good year without all time QB Drew Brees, but have also been on a recent losing streak. The Saints are 5-5 this season, with victories versus the Packers, Patriots, Washington, Seahawks, and Buccaneers. They have lost to the Panthers, Giants, Falcons, Titans, and Eagles. Since the Halloween victory against Tampa Bay, New Orleans hasn’t been able to catch a win in November. The big issue for the Saints has also been injuries. They lost QB Jameis Winston for the season in the win against the Buccaneers, when he suffered an ACL tear. Also, DE Marcus Davenport, OT Ryan Ramczyk, TE Adam Trautman, OT Andrus Peat, PK Wil Lutz, WR Michael Thomas, and RB Alvin Kamara are all out or on injured reserve. As a result, I think the Buffalo Bills will probably win this game because the Saints have too many injuries and have struggled a lot recently on offense behind backup QB Trevor Siemian and on defense. One final note, since this game is on NBC, former QB Drew Brees is calling the game, along with great announcer Mike Tirico.

In conclusion, these games could be a little rough because of all the injuries to these teams, but they could also be really fun. So, I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving and a good break from school.