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NFL Thanksgiving Day previews: Bills, Cowboys, Vikings in action


CNN

By Hannah Brewitt, CNN

This Thursday, homes across the United States will be full of two things: food and football. The National Football League’s annual Thanksgiving Day triple-header returns for what is sure to be an exciting slate of showdowns.

This year features the Buffalo Bills meeting the Lions for Detroit’s 83rd Thanksgiving Day game, an NFC East rivalry match-up between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys and a primetime battle between the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings. All six teams are vying for playoff positioning at a crucial point of the NFL season.

Here are previews of what to expect as you tune in with your turkey:

Bills at Lions

The Buffalo Bills (7-3) and Detroit Lions (4-6) face off on Thursday for their third Thanksgiving Day contest. The Lions have been an annual participant in the tradition since 1934, with an all-time record of 37-43-2 on the holiday. This is the second straight year the Bills make a Thanksgiving Day appearance, having defeated the Saints in primetime last season.

Entering this week’s clash, the Lions are on a three-game win streak. Despite the losing record, they are second in the division and can be considered in the playoff hunt. The Bills are their toughest opponent throughout the rest of the season. A win on Thursday would boost their playoff chances and prove that they can compete with high-caliber opponents.

While the Lions’ recent surge is not to be underestimated, the Bills have the right tools to defeat Detroit. While Buffalo might be the away team, they’ve proven they know how to win in the Motor City. Just last week, they earned a “home” win at Ford Field, defeating the Browns 31-23. Through 11 weeks, they’ve defeated much stronger opponents than Detroit, such as the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tennessee Titans.

To see which team begins Thanksgiving in the win column, tune in at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Giants at Cowboys

The most highly-anticipated matchup of the day is between the Dallas Cowboys (7-3) and New York Giants (7-3). Entering the contest, the two teams rank second and third respectively in the extremely competitive NFC East. They already met earlier this season with the Cowboys taking home a 23-16 win. Should the Cowboys sweep the season series, they’ll have a leg up in the case of tiebreakers down the road.

In the Cowboys’ most recent showing, they were absolutely dominant. They put up 40 points on the Vikings, led by strong performances from quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Tony Pollard. The defense racked up seven sacks and 13 quarterback hits against Minnesota. If this game is indicative of the energy Dallas is bringing into the second half of the season, New York could be in trouble.

The Giants are coming off a much different Week 11 outcome. They suffered a disappointing loss to the Lions, a defeat that felt much more sour considering New York’s hot start to the season. To make matters worse, multiple players exited the game due to injuries. To put it simply, the Giants are the underdogs in the game.

To see if history repeats itself with a Cowboys win, or if the Giants can pull off the upset, tune in on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Patriots at Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings (8-2) will host their first ever Thanksgiving game, taking on the New England Patriots (6-4). It will also be the Patriots’ first Thanksgiving appearance since the infamous “butt fumble” game, when they defeated the Jets in 2012.

The Vikings’ success has been one of this season’s biggest surprises. Through 11 weeks of play, they top the NFC North boasting twice as many wins as the second place Lions. Last week, however, they suffered a brutal 40-3 loss at the hands of the Cowboys that raised some questions. Are the Vikings legitimate contenders? Or did they just get lucky with an easy first half schedule?

The Patriots’ journey to this point has been somewhat opposite. After a slower start to the season, the Patriots have found their rhythm. They enter this week’s matchup on a three-game win streak and have not allowed a single touchdown in their last two games. Bill Belichick’s team could be on the cusp of a hot streak and are hitting the Vikings game at just the right time. It’s also worth noting that the Vikings have lost five consecutive games to the Pats and have not defeated them since Belichick’s first season as head coach.

To see which team emerges victorious, tune in at 8:20 p.m. ET.

How to Watch

Here’s how to catch these teams and others across the league in action, from wherever you are.

Australia: NFL Game Pass, ESPN, 7Plus

Brazil: NFL Game Pass, ESPN

Canada: CTV, TSN, RDS, NFL Game Pass on DAZN

Germany: NFL Game Pass, ProSieben MAXX, DAZN

Mexico: NFL Game Pass, TUDN, ESPN, Fox Sports, Sky Sports

UK: NFL Game Pass, Sky Sports, ITV, Channel 5

US: NFL Game Pass, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, ESPN, Amazon Prime

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