Not since 2017 have the Detroit Lions experienced a run of success such as they are right now.
Head coach Dan Campbell’s squad is hoping that momentum will carry the Lions to a feat they’ve not accomplished since 2016.
Looking to break the franchise’s five-game losing streak on Thanksgiving, Campbell believes the Ford Field faithful will be rocking for Thursday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, which kicks off the John Madden Thanksgiving Celebration at 12:30 p.m. ET.
“That was one of the first things I thought of after this game on the plane ride home [after Sunday’s win against the New York Giants] is like, man, this place is going to be [fired up] — because it’s been good,” Campbell said earlier this week, via the team website.
“I mean, it’s been electric and I can only imagine now. I already know it’s going to be on fire. It’s going to be great.”
The win over the Giants gave the Lions their third straight victory, a streak the club hasn’t produced since Weeks 9-11, 2017. Should they upset the Bills, the Lions would collect their first four-game winning streak since Weeks 9-14, 2016, and also snap a five-game skid in the franchise’s hallmark Thanksgiving game.
History is split on the outcome, as Detroit faces a Buffalo squad quarterbacked by Josh Allen, who is 2-0 on Thanksgiving. However, the Lions and Bills have squared off twice before on Turkey Day and Detroit won both of those matchups — the last in Week 13, 1994.
Another interesting caveat is the Lions will return to a home crowd after two straight triumphs on the road, while the Bills will return to their second straight game at Ford Field. Having had to move their Week 11 home game from New York to Michigan due to a snowstorm, the Bills will become the third NFL team to play two games at the same venue that is not their regular home field in a span of five days or less, per NFL Research.
Regardless, the Lions are hoping a little Thanksgiving home cooking tastes good for the first time since 2016.
“Coming off a three-game win streak at home, I know what this game means to the city of Detroit,” said Lions quarterback Jared Goff, who was a rookie with the Rams when Detroit last won on Thanksgiving. “It’s been here every year, and playing a good opponent, yeah, it’ll be fun. It’ll be really fun, and we look forward to seeing those (fans) out there.
Detroit Lions vs. Buffalo Bills: 3 burning questions ahead of Thanksgiving
We’ll try and answer three burning questions ahead of kickoff below:
Can Detroit’s defense keep those takeaways coming?
Last week, the Lions forced three turnovers against the usually efficient New York Giants. And they’ve actually created nine takeaways through their five games since the bye week. They’ll need more of that and then some against the powerful Bills and quarterback Josh Allen. The quarterback is known for taking a chance or two, and he’ll need to watch that with Lions rookie Aidan Hutchinson and Kerby Joseph proving to have a nose for the ball on the other side. And speaking of Allen, he’s thrown six interceptions and lost a fumble in the last four games, with an uncharacteristically sloppy stretch, playing through an elbow injury.
“It’s huge. It’s huge, we will — we desperately will need them,” Lions head coach Dan Campbell said.
“We’re going to need them and look, that’s been part of the secret sauce for us. We are getting them and that’s — and that means we’re turning a corner because we are getting them out. And so, we’ve got to continue that trend and if we can put him in a position to where he feels like he needs to get rid of the ball and we get our hands on it. We have to capitalize, so it’s going to be big for us. It’s been big for us.”
What version of Bills QB Josh Allen shows up?
Josh Allen’s accuracy has dipped during his recent turnover-heavy stretch, too. But it’s important to remember what this quarterback can do because it would be unwise to sleep on his ability. Allen has been working through a recent elbow injury, with his accuracy dropping to about 60% through those four rough outings. Allen has continued to get after it on the ground, with 226 yards and two touchdowns during that span. He threw for 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last season. He was the runner-up MVP in 2021 after completing 69.2% of his passes with 37 scores and only 10 picks. Allen is pushing the ball downfield more and taking chances this season. There have been bumps in the road. But he still has five games with more than 300 passing yards, including a pair of 400-plus yard days.
Where would a fourth consecutive win put the Lions in the NFC postseason picture?
Can you believe we’re talking about the Lions and the playoff this late in the season, no matter how long those odds are? They’ve climbed out of the NFC North’s cellar after winning three straight, including two inside the division, now sitting in second place.
The NFC looks mediocre in the middle, and there’s a chance to climb the ladder. The Lions are the third team out of the playoffs, trailing the Commanders (6-5) and Falcons (5-6), with the Cowboys (7-3), Giants (7-3) and Seahawks (6-4) holding down the wild-card spots. And even with an upset win against one of the powerhouses of the NFL. Only one team has made the postseason after starting the year 1-6. And that was the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals.
“No. Nope. Nope, I’m not. I mean, that’s — because there again it was, man, we got to enjoy that game on the flight last night, and it was done,” Campbell answered when asked if he’s checked the standings.
“When I got back here at the office, it was already Buffalo, so that would’ve been nice to have a long week to enjoy, at least maybe a few hours longer. But that’s the nature of it, man, we’re rolling, we’re going — and none of it matters, in my opinion, if we don’t win this next one. So, we’re in a good place. The guys understand what — the things that we’re doing that are allowing us to win. And we’ve got to continue to do that, and I know we can’t start thinking other things and get ourselves out of the mold of what we’ve been the last three weeks, how we’ve been. We’ve got to stay the course just like we have.”
5 things to watch: Lions vs. Bills
What a big Thanksgiving matchup today as the red hot Detroit Lions host the 7-3 Buffalo Bills at Ford Field.
Buffalo is a favorite to be the Super Bowl representative in the AFC, while the Lions (4-6) are winners of three straight and trying to put themselves firmly in the playoff picture in the NFC.
It should be a fun one. Here are five things I’ll be looking out for:
1. JOSH ALLEN SHOW
The Lions did a terrific job containing the most dynamic running back in the NFL last week by holding the Giants’ Saquon Barkley to 22 rushing yards on 15 carries. Now they get to face arguably the most dynamic quarterback in the league in Buffalo’s Josh Allen, who has thrown for 2,930 yards and 21 touchdowns with a 96.9 passer rating in 10 games and has also rushed for 483 yards and another four scores.
Allen is arguably the top dual-threat player in the NFL at the quarterback position. He’s a rare threat that can beat teams with his arm or legs, which makes defending him a nightmare. Detroit has to do a good job of keeping him in the pocket and speeding up his clock. Allen does have 10 interceptions on the year, so there are opportunities for big plays on defense if they can get to him.
2. HOME COOKING
It’s the first time in several years the Lions have been in the playoff picture in the NFC at the end of November. They’ve won three straight and are playing some good football right now in all three phases.
It sets up for what’s expected to be a sell-out crowd at Ford Field today. Ford Field, when it’s rocking, is such a big home-field advantage for the Lions. It will be loud and energetic early. It’s up to the Lions to keep it that way.
3. LIFE WITHOUT OKUDAH
Lions head coach Dan Campbell said Sunday after starting cornerback Jeff Okudah left the game against the Giants and entered concussion protocol that it was unlikely Okudah would be able to navigate through the return-to-play protocol and return by Thursday.
That means Jerry Jacobs, Mike Hughes, Amani Oruwariye and Will Harris will have to hold down the fort against one of the best passing units in football.
Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs already has 1,000 receiving yards on the season (1,033). He and fellow receiver Gabe Davis have combined for 13 touchdowns on the year, while Davis is averaging 21.1 yards per reception. It’s a dynamic passing attack the Bills bring to Detroit today. It’s too bad a national audience won’t get to see Okudah play because he’s playing some terrific ball in his third season.
4. YOUNG PLAYMAKERS
This young Lions defense is figuring some things out and starting to get a lot of big contributions from several different players. Key among them have been rookies Aidan Hutchinson and Kerby Joseph. Detroit’s first and third-round picks in this year’s NFL Draft have combined for six takeaways during Detroit’s current three-game win streak.
The game is slowing down for both rookies, and they are seeing the whole field in front of them to put themselves in position to make plays. Joseph is the first Lions rookie to log at least three interceptions in a season since Terrance Holt in 2003. Hutchinson is the second player in NFL history to log at least 5.0 sacks and two interceptions through the first 10 games.
5. CAN LIONS STAY HOT?
During their three-game win streak dating back to Week 9, Detroit is averaging 25.7 points per game (tied for fourth with Kansas City), have 67 first downs (third) and have a plus-six turnover margin (first).
On defense they’ve allowed 19 points per game (ninth), a 70.6 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks (fourth) and have six interceptions (first).
Buffalo will certainly test those numbers today. The Bills are No. 2 in the NFL in scoring (28.1) and have the league’s No. 2 overall offense (417.4). Defensively, the Bills are allowing just 17.4 points per game (fourth) and are third with 18 takeaways.