Why the Las Vegas Raiders Have the Most to Lose of All the NFL Teams Playing on Thanksgiving

Playing on Thanksgiving Day in the NFL is a huge deal, no matter the team’s record. The three-game slate features some teams with a lot to play for and others with nothing more than pride on the line. Regardless, the Lions, Bears, Cowboys, Raiders, Bills, and Saints will all have something to play for.

Each of the six teams wants to get a win, but no team needs a victory more than the Las Vegas Raiders, and here’s why.

Assessing the Lions, Bears, Cowboys, Bills and Saints

The Detroit Lions are the only winless team in the NFL. At this point, they’re on track for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Still, Dan Campbell won’t let his squad just roll over on Thanksgiving.

The Chicago Bears are 3-7, and Andy Dalton is starting again. That makes for a pretty lackluster first game. The biggest storyline is what’s going to happen with head coach Matt Nagy. His job is likely already gone, win or lose.

The Dallas Cowboys are in the best position of any team playing on Thanksgiving this time around. Mike McCarthy’s team is coming off a disappointing loss to the Chiefs. But they’re 7-3 and have a decent lead in the NFC East. A loss to the Raiders wouldn’t hurt too bad.

The Buffalo Bills will have plenty to prove after getting blown out by the Indianapolis Colts on their home field in Week 11. Josh Allen was one of the favorites to win MVP, but those odds are looking slimmer. A loss could knock Buffalo out of the playoffs by the end of the week.

The New Orleans Saints are in a similar situation to the Bills. They’re sitting at 5-5 and currently hold the last Wild Card spot in the NFC. While a Thanksgiving loss would be devastating, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Sean Payton and company would live to fight another week.

With a loss on Thanksgiving, the Raiders’ season is over

NFL quarterback Derek Carr leads the Raiders into a must-win game on Thanksgiving
Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders prepare to take the field against the Cincinnati Bengals | Chris Unger/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders head into the Thanksgiving Day tilt against the Dallas Cowboys with everything hanging in the balance.

The Raiders are currently 5-5, which ties with the Denver Broncos for last place in the AFC West. This team looked poised to take control of the division early on in 2021.

However, after a 5-2 start, everything has gone downhill for Las Vegas. This team has lost three consecutive games to the New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, and Cincinnati Bengals. Two of those losses were by at least two touchdowns.

To say the game against the Cowboys is a must-win would be an understatement. The Raiders have the perfect opportunity to get back in the win column and right the ship on Thanksgiving.

Dallas poses one of the Raiders’ stiffest tests this season, though. Dak Prescott and the offense will be looking to rebound from a disappointing showing against Kansas City. Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs could make life difficult for Derek Carr and the Las Vegas offense.

The Raiders had limited time to sulk in their wounds after a loss to the Bengals. Now it’s time to see what this team is all about against another quality opponent.

Las Vegas deserves a lot of credit for its heart in 2021


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No matter how the 2021 NFL season ultimately shakes out for the Las Vegas Raiders, they’ve already shown heart and character through the first 11 weeks.

No team has battled more adversity off the field than the Raiders. Amid Las Vegas’ impressive start, the team lost its head coach. Jon Gruden resigned after emails surfaced of the head coach using disparaging language of racism, homophobia, and misogyny.

Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia has done an admirable job filling in on the fly. He coached the Raiders to two straight victories after Gruden left.

As if the head coach’s departure wasn’t enough, Las Vegas also lost one of its most promising young players. The team released second-year wide receiver Henry Ruggs III after facing criminal charges, including DUI resulting in death.

The Raiders have endured more than any team should have to handle. Through it all, though, they still have a fighter’s chance to compete for a playoff spot.

Adversity hit hard, but the players and coaches have stuck together. That’s something to be thankful for.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.