2021 NFL Thanksgiving games: Teams, TV schedules and storylines

Nightcap features reeling Bills, slumping Saints on WPTV
New Orleans Saints defensive tackle recovers fumble at Philadelphia Eagles, Nov. 21, 2021
Posted at 10:46 PM, Nov 24, 2021

'Tis the season for turkey and pigskin.

The 2021 NFL season once again brings about a trifecta of Thanksgiving games, culminating with Thursday night's showdown between the reeling Buffalo Bills and slumping New Orleans Saints.

Here's a look at the slate of games and what's at stake in each.

Chicago Bears (3-7) at Detroit Lions (0-9-1)
Ford Field | Detroit
12:30 p.m. | WFLX

The hapless Lions are still in search of their first win under first-year head coach Dan Campbell. They came close two weekends ago, settling for a 16-16 tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Of course, "Ties suck," as Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward pointed out after neither team scored in overtime.

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell questions call vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, Nov. 14, 2021
Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell questions a call against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Detroit.

Still, it's not like the Lions are terrible. D'Andre Swift leads all running backs in receptions (53) and is second in receiving yards (420). He's also fifth among all running backs with 975 yards from scrimmage.

The Bears will be without first-round quarterback Justin Fields, who is nursing a rib injury, so Andy Dalton will get the start for Chicago. Dalton had a pair of touchdowns in Detroit's 16-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns last weekend and is a proven veteran, but will the speculation about Matt Nagy being on the verge of losing his job be too much of a distraction?

Nagy denied a report that he was told he'd be fired after the game, but if Chicago loses to the winless Lions, it just might happen.

Las Vegas Raiders (5-5) at Dallas Cowboys (7-3)
AT&T Stadium | Arlington, Texas
4:30 p.m. | CBS

The Cowboys are coming off a 19-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, but they're still in the driver's seat in the NFC East Division and very much a playoff contender.

Still, their flaws were exposed in last weekend's game. Star running back Ezekiel Elliott has been held scoreless in four of his last five games and he hasn't topped 100 yards rushing since a 44-20 win against the New York Giants on Oct. 10.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott tripped up at Kansas City Chiefs, Nov. 21, 2021
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is tripped up by Kansas City Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen during the second half Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo.

The Raiders, meanwhile, seem to be spiraling in the wrong direction since Jon Gruden resigned five games into the season. Las Vegas is just 2-3 under interim coach Rich Bisaccia and has lost three in a row after a 5-2 start.

A winless November would further distance the Raiders from Kansas City in the AFC West Division race.

Buffalo Bills (6-4) at New Orleans Saints (5-5)
Caesars Superdome | New Orleans
8 p.m. | WPTV

The Bills, who seemed poised to make another run at the AFC Championship game, have lost two of their last three games, including an abysmal 9-6 showing at the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen throws vs. Dallas Cowboys, Nov. 21, 2023
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills passes the ball against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in Orchard Park, NY. The Colts defeated the Bills 41-15.

Last weekend's 41-15 beatdown by the Indianapolis Colts was Buffalo's worst home loss since 2018 and edged the Bills out of first place in the AFC East Division. The 41 points and 264 rushing yards allowed were both season highs for Buffalo's defense.

Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen has to cut down on the interceptions. Prior to the Jacksonville game, Allen had three picks on the season, but he's thrown five through the last three games.

Then there's New Orleans, where Saints fans are quickly learning life without Drew Brees isn't such a breeze.

New Orleans Saints QB Jameis Winston helped off field in 2021
New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston is helped off the field after being injured during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in New Orleans.

Former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston, who spent last season as Brees' backup, led the Saints to a 4-2 start before he suffered a season-ending injury against his former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on Halloween.

With Trevor Siemian at the helm, the Saints are 0-3 and have fallen to .500 on the season. Will the Saints turn to Taysom Hill, who led the team to a 3-1 record filling in for Brees last season?