NFL Thanksgiving Day 2021: The 3 Biggest Storylines for Saints vs. Bills
Arguably the most entertaining game set to take place on this year’s Thanksgiving Day schedule, the New Orleans Saints versus the Buffalo Bills has the makings of a potential thriller. Both teams have been struggling as of late. However, both teams are in the thick of their respective playoff races and desperate for a primetime win.
With that in mind, three main storylines need paying attention to.
How will the Saints utilize Taysom Hill?
Fresh off a contract extension that could be worth upward of $95 million, gadget player Taysom Hill once again finds himself at the forefront of Saints discourse. As odd of a player as he is, Saints head coach Sean Payton is seemingly in love with him and intends to make him a crucial part of the team’s offense for the next couple of seasons.
Despite Hill’s lofty new extension, the Saints have yet to give him a proper shot at winning the team’s starting quarterback job. Jameis Winston began 2021 as the full-time starter and was replaced by Trevor Siemian upon tearing his ACL. Granted, Hill was dealing with a concussion at the time of Winston’s injury, so he wasn’t an option. However, there was a belief Hill would at least be afforded a shot at the job upon returning from concussion protocol, especially considering how poorly Siemian played against the Philadelphia Eagles.
This appears not to be the case. Expect Hill to operate in his traditional TE/WR/RB/QB hybrid role against the Bills instead. Either way, the Saints need to prove Hill was worth the extra money. The only way to do that is by getting him the football. With so many vital Saints injured as well, Hill is one of the few healthy weapons left for Payton to use.
Is Josh Allen a realistic MVP candidate anymore?
One of the top candidates to win MVP heading into 2021, Bills QB Josh Allen’s stock has drastically plummeted over the past few weeks. Allen threw two interceptions during a loss against the Indianapolis Colts last week and two against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 9.
Allen has already recorded eight interceptions this season, well on his way to shattering his current season-high of 12 (2018).
According to Odds Shark, Allen still has the second-best odds in the NFL to win MVP (+450). However, one has to wonder just how reasonable that is. He’s been outplayed by several AFC quarterbacks in recent weeks, and the NFC is filled to the brim with elite passers.
Allen will likely bounce back into his regular form moving forward. However, he’s undoubtedly falling out of the MVP conversation as things currently stand. He needs to prove to everyone on a big stage like Thanksgiving Day that he’s still worthy of being in the MVP picture.
Are the Saints/Bills contenders or pretenders?
As mentioned previously, both the Saints and Bills are currently in the playoff picture. However, both are rapidly slipping out of it.
Heading into their Week 12 matchup, the Saints hold the 7-seed in the NFC, and the Bills hold the 7-seed in the AFC. A loss for either team would likely drop them out of the Wild Card once the rest of the teams play on Sunday and Monday.
The AFC East isn’t entirely out of the picture for the Bills, as the New England Patriots are only a game ahead of them. However, with how well they’ve been playing recently, it may be too little too late for Buffalo. The Saints, on the other hand, may as well forget about the NFC South existing. It’s hard to imagine Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers letting their hold on the division slip away.
Either way, Week 12 is a massive game for both franchises. A loss for either team would see them slip out of the final postseason spot, while a win would give them a crucial leg up on their competition.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.