There’s a new November tradition in Buffalo: watching the Bills on Thanksgiving.
The Buffalo Bills have ascended into the national spotlight, and their schedule reflects that. The Bills have five prime-time games, with two additional games to be determined that could be flexed into prime time, plus the 12:30 pm kickoff on Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions.
The game, which kicks off at 8:20 pm Sept. 8, will take place in Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium and air on NBC. It’s a homecoming for Bills defensive end Von Miller, who last year was a member of the Rams’ Super Bowl championship team.
The game in Detroit will mark the third time in four years that the Bills have played on Thanksgiving, all on the road. Before this stretch, the team went 25 years without a Thanksgiving game.
Buffalo’s first Thanksgiving appearance came in 1961, a 21-14 loss to the New York Titans. The Bills played on the holiday five times in the 1960s, and twice more in the 1970s. Then, there was a lengthy break until 1994, which was also against Detroit.
Now, the Bills seem to have a de facto spot in the Thanksgiving lineup. It has followed the team’s re-emergence and quarterback Josh Allen’s upward trajectory. Allen’s performance on Thanksgiving in 2019 in Dallas was a statement on a national stage in just his second year. Allen was 19 of 24 for 231 yards and two total touchdowns, sealing the 26-15 victory.
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Based on the latest over-under win totals for each team set by Las Vegas oddsmakers, the Bills will face the 17th toughest schedule in 2022. The over-under win total for the Bills is 11.5 games.
Last season, the Bills stomped the Saints 31-6. As the Bills geared up to head to New Orleans for the late Thanksgiving game, coach Sean McDermott noted a few reasons he was looking forward to the matchup.
“It’s great when your team is playing on Thanksgiving: A) because of the tradition around playing football on Thanksgiving in America, and it’s a game where there’s a lot of people at home around our league watching your team play,” McDermott said. “And yet at the same time, I think there’s something special to be said for, it’s just us on the road – obviously some fans – but it brings a team closer together when you’re spending a holiday.
“Everybody wants to be home for the holidays, don’t get me wrong, but when you’re together on a holiday, I think it brings you little bit closer as a team.”
It is a similar sentiment to McDermott’s preference for spending part of training camp outside of Buffalo.
It does mean rearranging plans for players and for fans, as well. But after last year’s win in New Orleans, Bills safety Micah Hyde found one notable upside to missing the main course.
“Thanksgiving leftovers are always better,” Hyde said, “So I’m going to be eating all weekend.”
The Bills will be coming off a game at home against the Cleveland Browns.
Also on Thanksgiving, the New York Giants are at the Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 pm and the New England Patriots are at the Minnesota Vikings at 8:20 pm