Here is how News Buffalo Bills reporters see Thursday's game between the Bills and Detroit Lions at Ford Field. The Bills are favored by 10 points by FanDuel.com:
Jay Skurski: Josh Allen is a bad, bad man indoors. The Bills' quarterback is 7-1 in games played inside in his career, with the only loss coming to the Cardinals on the "Hail Murray" play. The game against the Browns on Sunday showed what the Bills need to do: Take care of the football. Buffalo scored 31 points against Cleveland and came out of that game probably feeling like they played their "C" game offensively. That's how good Buffalo's offense is when it's not turning the ball over. The Lions are woeful across the board defensively and won't have No. 1 cornerback Jeff Okudah against the Bills. This is a game Allen and Co. need to put close to 40 on the board.
Defensively, the Bills are going to have to rely on Von Miller to carry the edge rushers, since Greg Rousseau is still out and it's highly unlikely A.J. Epenesa plays. It would also be a boost for the defense if Boogie Basham could give the defense some quality snaps. Getting rookie cornerback Kaiir Elam back comes a good time, because the Bills' cornerbacks struggled last week against Cleveland, particularly on 50/50 balls. The Lions are capable of matching points with opponents, so the Bills' third-down defense needs to get off the field. That's been an issue lately, particularly in third-and-long situations that should favor Buffalo. Bills, 38-20.
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Jay Skurski answers readers' questions as the Bills prepare for what is becoming an annual tradition: a Thanksgiving game.
Katherine Fitzgerald: Well, here we go again, in a way. The Bills head right back to Detroit for a planned meeting at Ford Field.
The injuries on the defense are notable. Even if they’re manageable for this game, it’s still a concern heading into December that the injury bug hasn’t slowed. But a banged-up defensive line affects the rest of the defense, and with Greg Rousseau out and A.J. Epenesa listed as doubtful, the Bills will need other guys to step up on a short week.
I think the Lions are trending the right way long term, but I think the Bills win the third Thanksgiving game they’ve played in four years. After a stretch of play below his own standards, Josh Allen should be closer to usual form, and I think he’ll put on a show for the early crowd. Bills, 31-23.
The Bills want teams returning kickoffs, which is a sign of the confidence in their veteran coverage units and their coaching philosophy in the kicking game under Sean McDermott and coordinator Matthew Smiley. Use special teams as a weapon.
Mark Gaughan: The Lions have played some strong games in defeat against good teams this season. They lost to Philadelphia 38-35, Seattle 48-45 and Miami 31-27. However, this looks like a bad matchup for Detroit. The Lions’ secondary isn’t very good, and they’re without their top cornerback, Jeff Okudah, who has a concussion. They’re ranked last in the league on defense. The run defense isn’t good, either. The Bills might be without center Mitch Morse, so the Lions might as well send the blitzes at Josh Allen and try to create a couple turnovers.
The biggest strength of the Lions’ offense is the line. However, the Lions will be without both starting guards. Their best guard, Jonah Jackson, is out with a concussion. Jared Goff is a capable quarterback if he stays on schedule. When he’s in bad down and distances or he faces pressure, he has more trouble. I don’t see the Bills’ run defense being as dominant Thursday, because they have to pay a bit more attention to the pass than they did against the Browns. And the Bills still are duct-taping it together at cornerback until Tre White and Kaiir Elam return. But the Bills should be able to get an early lead and stay in control. Bills, 37-23.
Morse was injured early in the game against Cleveland. Ryan Bates is expected to play center if Morse is unable to play.
Ryan O’Halloran: The Lions can’t stop anybody (last in points allowed, yards and yards per play, passing yards per play and on third down). The Bills will get their points if they don’t turn it over and stay patient and balanced. Against Cleveland, they broke their seven-game streak of at least one giveaway.
But the Lions’ offense can move the football via chunk plays. Their 21 completions of at least 25 yards are tied for fifth-most in the NFL, and their 35 rushes of at least 10 yards are tied for ninth-most.
It’s time for the Bills’ defense to tighten up on allowing explosive plays (pass of at least 16 yards and rush of at least 12 yards). Minnesota and Cleveland had 10 explosive plays apiece the last two games (17 passes and three rushes), allowing the Vikings to rally from a 27-10 deficit to win and the Browns to make things interesting in the final five minutes on Sunday.
The Bills are likely to be without edge rusher Epenesa (ankle) and will be without Rousseau (ankle), so if I’m defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, I get more aggressive to create pressure on Jared Goff by blitzing nickel back Taron Johnson more often and also linebacker Matt Milano (sack against Cleveland).
The Bills stabilize their season with a second win in five days as quarterback Josh Allen posts his sixth 300-yard passing game. Bills, 37-24.