Detroit Lions vs. Buffalo Bills: Matchup Preview

Thanksgiving – A holiday that has become resented by many fans of the Detroit Lions due to the lackluster football put on display every year. The Lions have been miserable on Thanksgiving as of late, and have not won the traditional game since 2016 when they beat the Minnesota Vikings 16-13. Last season, the Lions lost to the Chicago Bears 16-14. However, one thing is different this year than previous years. The Lions are still playing meaningful football at this point in the year. Usually, the Lions’ season is already dead by Thanksgiving. This year, the Lions will take on the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field, and come into the game having just won three games in a row, two of them being on the road. This puts them in the hunt for a wildcard playoff spot. A good effort against the Bills could cement the turnaround that head coach Dan Campbell and company were looking for.

The Bills head into Week 12 with a 7-3 record and look like one of the powerhouse teams in the AFC. Last week, the Bills defeated the Cleveland Browns 31-23 at Ford Field due to a major snow storm hitting the Buffalo area. However, questions have recently come up with the Bills level of play. With two losses to the Jets and Vikings in Weeks 9 and 10 and quarterback Josh Allen’s elbow injury, the Bills have lost some momentum, and look like a different team than they did at the start of the season. Against the Lions, the Bills look to return to dominant form and make a major push to win the AFC.

Let’s look at some keys that will dictate this Thanksgiving matchup.

How will the Lions stop Stefon Diggs?
The Lions lost a major key to their defense against the New York Giants when cornerback Jeff Okudah went out with a concussion. He did not practice on Monday, and Campbell does not think Okudah will play. With the Lions’ best corner out, who will step up and stop Bills’ wide receiver Stefon Diggs? Diggs has been unstoppable this season, and is statically one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Diggs is second in receiving yards, touchdowns and catches. His connection with Josh Allen is special, and slowing down this production will be massive if the Lions want to achieve a victory. This Lions secondary is young, and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn will need to scheme for Diggs. A Lions cornerback will need to step up.

Can Dan Campbell continue smart coaching?
The previous three weeks, Dan Campbell has drastically changed his coaching style. Campbell has not gotten in the way of himself like he had earlier in the season, such as in the Vikings game in Week 3. Campbell has limited the fourth down conversion attempts, and has also taken field goals. One example of this was against the Giants. With 7:52 in the first quarter, the Lions had just sustained an 11-play drive. Campbell elected to take the field goal instead of going for it and possibly losing the ball. This sort of coaching would not have happened last season or even earlier in the season. Dan Campbell is learning on the job, and has drastically improved the previous three weeks. Smart coaching leads to victories. If he can continue to do so, the Lions will continue to win.

Keep feeding Jamal Williams?
The production that Lions’ running back Jamaal Williams has had this season was not expected. The reps that Williams has received are a product of D’Andre Swift’s inability to stay healthy. Williams ran for three touchdowns against the Giants, pushing him to 12 on the season. Sunday was Williams’ fifth game with multiple rushing touchdowns this season, tying Barry Sanders for the franchise record. He is also closing in on Sanders’ single season rushing touchdown record, which sits at 16. If Jamaal Williams is seeing success, keep giving it to him. Swift has not been able to stay healthy. While Swift is the better back, Williams has continued to be consistent for the team, and is also a major veteran leader for this young team. Don’t be surprised if this trend continues as the Lions look to control the Bills on the ground.
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