For Buffalo Bills fans, Thanksgiving leftovers this year could include a serving of primetime football.
Ahead of the league’s schedule release on Wednesday night, reports emerged that the Bills would be facing the New Orleans Saints in the evening game this Thanksgiving, considered one of the most-coveted spots of the entire schedule. The news was met with enthusiasm from many Bills fans, who recall the team’s recent successful tilt on Turkey Day.
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Bills in Primetime
Though the schedules would not be officially released for hours, many NFL insiders shared bits and pieces of the league’s slate for the 2021 season throughout the day on Wednesday, including some primetime games for the Bills. Bleacher Report’s MasterTres reported on Twitter that the Bills and Saints would be part of this year’s Thanksgiving slate, playing the more recently added third game that takes place in the evening.
Bears-Lions and Bills-Saints also on Thanksgiving, per sources https://t.co/wIxNG4aEQq
— Master (@MasterTes) May 12, 2021
There may have been some clues that the Bills and Saints would get a top slot. Sal Capaccio of WGR 550 noted that the league’s vice president of broadcast planning had hinted in an earlier interview that the league saw the Bills vs. Saints game as one of the top on the year’s schedule. Though the Saints lost Drew Brees to retirement this offseason, they were one of the NFC’s top teams last year at 12-4.
— Sal Maiorana (@salmaiorana) May 12, 2021
And the Bills reportedly returning to Thanksgiving was not a surprise to Matt Warren of SB Nation’s Buffalo Rumblings, who noted that their 2019 game against the Dallas Cowboys was one of the most watched in recent years.
The Bills’ placement is no accident. In addition to playing in last year’s AFC Championship Game, Buffalo garnered one of the highest ratings in Thanksgiving history in 2019 when they smacked around the Dallas Cowboys. It was the best regular-season rating of ANY GAME in three years (at the time) and the most-watched Thanksgiving game on CBS in 27 years. It was the second-most watched TV program of the year, only behind the Super Bowl the previous February.
Bills Fans Hyped for Turkey Day Return
The rumors of a Thanksgiving Day game were met with enthusiasm from many Bills fans and reporters, who had fond memories of the Bills taking down the Cowboys two seasons ago. The Bills went into the game as underdogs, but ended up winning to improve to 9-3 and closer to securing a playoff spot.
— Primetime Adam (@AdamZientek3) May 12, 2021
The NFL can’t live without Josh Allen and the Bills on Thanksgiving pic.twitter.com/u2wHSEaMQO
— Bills Run Deep (@BillsRunDeep2) May 12, 2021
Many insiders are excited to see what the Bills and their high-flying offense can do in primetime. NFL Network host Dan Hanzus said on the Around The NFL podcast that the Bills playing at home before a large crowd could make for must-watch television.
“I wonder if there’s going to be full houses in the NFL, imagine up there in Buffalo and Western New York just going nuts for a Bills team as fun as this,” Hanzus said. “So, throw the Bills in there with their high-scoring offense, Josh Allen and all his magic and then a full house in Buffalo, put that under the lights.”
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