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5 things to watch: Lions vs. Bills

What a big Thanksgiving matchup today as the red hot Detroit Lions host the 7-3 Buffalo Bills at Ford Field.

Buffalo is a favorite to be the Super Bowl representative in the AFC, while the Lions (4-6) are winners of three straight and trying to put themselves firmly in the playoff picture in the NFC.

It should be a fun one. Here are five things I'll be looking out for:


The Lions did a terrific job containing the most dynamic running back in the NFL last week by holding the Giants' Saquon Barkley to 22 rushing yards on 15 carries. Now they get to face arguably the most dynamic quarterback in the league in Buffalo's Josh Allen, who has thrown for 2,930 yards and 21 touchdowns with a 96.9 passer rating in 10 games and has also rushed for 483 yards and another four scores.

Allen is arguably the top dual-threat player in the NFL at the quarterback position. He's a rare threat that can beat teams with his arm or legs, which makes defending him a nightmare. Detroit has to do a good job of keeping him in the pocket and speeding up his clock. Allen does have 10 interceptions on the year, so there are opportunities for big plays on defense if they can get to him.


It's the first time in several years the Lions have been in the playoff picture in the NFC at the end of November. They've won three straight and are playing some good football right now in all three phases.

It sets up for what's expected to be a sell-out crowd at Ford Field today. Ford Field, when it's rocking, is such a big home-field advantage for the Lions. It will be loud and energetic early. It's up to the Lions to keep it that way.


Lions head coach Dan Campbell said Sunday after starting cornerback Jeff Okudah left the game against the Giants and entered concussion protocol that it was unlikely Okudah would be able to navigate through the return-to-play protocol and return by Thursday.

That means Jerry Jacobs, Mike Hughes, Amani Oruwariye and Will Harris will have to hold down the fort against one of the best passing units in football.

Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs already has 1,000 receiving yards on the season (1,033). He and fellow receiver Gabe Davis have combined for 13 touchdowns on the year, while Davis is averaging 21.1 yards per reception. It's a dynamic passing attack the Bills bring to Detroit today. It's too bad a national audience won't get to see Okudah play because he's playing some terrific ball in his third season.


This young Lions defense is figuring some things out and starting to get a lot of big contributions from several different players. Key among them have been rookies Aidan Hutchinson and Kerby Joseph. Detroit's first and third-round picks in this year's NFL Draft have combined for six takeaways during Detroit's current three-game win streak.

The game is slowing down for both rookies, and they are seeing the whole field in front of them to put themselves in position to make plays. Joseph is the first Lions rookie to log at least three interceptions in a season since Terrance Holt in 2003. Hutchinson is the second player in NFL history to log at least 5.0 sacks and two interceptions through the first 10 games.


During their three-game win streak dating back to Week 9, Detroit is averaging 25.7 points per game (tied for fourth with Kansas City), have 67 first downs (third) and have a plus-six turnover margin (first).

On defense they've allowed 19 points per game (ninth), a 70.6 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks (fourth) and have six interceptions (first).

Buffalo will certainly test those numbers today. The Bills are No. 2 in the NFL in scoring (28.1) and have the league's No. 2 overall offense (417.4). Defensively, the Bills are allowing just 17.4 points per game (fourth) and are third with 18 takeaways.

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