Thursday will present several intriguing matchups on its special holiday schedule. As tradition goes, the NFC North will be well represented when the disappointing Chicago Bears travel to the Motor City to lock horns with their rival Detroit Lions. Elsewhere, Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys will meet Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders for a mid-afternoon contest that will surely provide points and entertainment in abundance. In the evening's final game, the Buffalo Bills will look to rebound from last week's shocking debacle by claiming a victory over a quality New Orleans Saints squad. Astoundingly, all six of these franchises suffered defeats in their latest contest. It should lead to a trio of highly contested, intense matches. The stakes have never been higher.
With our eyes firmly set on the action, we've compiled three bold predictions we envision coming to fruition.
ANDY DALTON HAS A BIG DAY, POWERS BEARS TO VICTORY
Rookie quarterback starlet Justin Fields will miss Chicago's Thanksgiving contest due to a ribs injury suffered in the Week 11 defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. Head coach Matt Nagy has already confirmed that veteran signal-caller Andy Dalton will start in Fields' place. Dalton will encounter a horrid Lions defense allowing an astounding 27.3 points per contest. Only the Atlanta Falcons (28.8) and New York Jets (32.0) are allowing the opposition to score more points on a weekly basis.
Dalton will make his fifth start of the campaign. The sample size may be relatively small, but Dalton has completed north of 65% of his passes this season, his personal best mark since 2015. He owns a respectable TD:INT ratio of 3:1, and has every trait necessary to take advantage of a winless opponent that should offer little in the way of resistance.
Predicting a Lions loss may not be the boldest take you've ever witnessed, but things aren't much better in the Windy City. Rumors continue to swirl regarding head coach Matt Nagy's job security. A big performance from Dalton en route to a Chicago victory could preserve Nagy's job for at least another week.
MICHAEL GALLUP TOPS 100 RECEIVING YARDS
The Dallas Cowboys will be without the services of superstar wide receiver Amari Cooper, whose placement on the COVID-Reserve List rules him ineligible from participating in Thursday's contest. Cooper's exhilarating running mate CeeDee Lamb may also miss out, as his availability for Thursday's showdown continues to hang in the balance due to a concussion suffered in their Week 11 defeat.
Lamb's potential absence would leave Dallas rather thin at the pass-catching positions. Michael Gallup would serve as the main beneficiary, and we've recently witnessed how heavy his usage could be should he indeed seep into the WR1 role. Prescott possesses an insurmountable amount of trust in Gallup, who saw a healthy 10 targets against the Chiefs. The Raiders' defense has been in horrid form as of late, allowing their opponents to score 41 and 32 points in their latest two contests. Gallup is an ultra-talented receiver that possesses the skill set necessary to take full advantage of his newfound opportunity. He'll receive a ton of playing time even if Lamb is miraculously cleared for the contest and should be in line for a massive workload.
BILLS BOUNCE BACK, DEFEAT SAINTS IN COMFORTABLE FASHION
We are still struggling to come to terms with what happened to the Bills on Sunday. Sean McDermott's team was thoroughly embarrassed by a rather average Indianapolis Colts team that marched into Orchard Park and dominated a superior Bills team to the rather shocking tune of 41-15. The Colts possess a budding superstar at the running back position in Jonathan Taylor, and the former Wisconsin standout humiliated Buffalo's run defense by rushing for an astonishing 185 yards while becoming just the 18th player in NFL history to score five touchdowns in a single contest.
Buffalo was humbled and dismantled in front of a dumbfounded home crowd. If they are to be considered true Super Bowl contenders in a confusing and jumbled AFC conference, the Bills must respond to Sunday's haunting showing with a standout, convincing performance against the Saints.
The odds may be in their favor, as the Saints are absolutely decimated by injury. Starting running back Alvin Kamara continues to deal with a difficult knee injury, and Tuesday's injury report brought bad news on fellow offensive starters Mark Ingram, Ryan Ramczyk, Adam Trautman, and Terron Armstead. These ailments would be difficult for a team that's already been forced to overcome season-ending injuries to Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas. This match is setting up as a prime "get right" opportunity for Buffalo.