For the first time since the 1994 season, the Buffalo Bills will be playing a football game on Thanksgiving Day. The opponent: traditional host Dallas, fresh off of last week's disappointing 13-9 road loss to New England.
In fact, the Cowboys (6-5) are 3-5 since starting the season with three straight victories. Beating up on lesser opponents has been relatively easy for this team. It's getting victories over teams above .500 that has been the issue.
Outside of an ugly 31-31 loss to Philadelphia in Week 8, the Bills (8-3) have been steady. Their other two losses (Patriots, at Browns) were by a total of nine points. Buffalo has a two-game lead over the rest of the pack in the AFC Wild Card chase and has won its past two games, including last week's impressive 20-3 home victory over Denver.
The Bills are 3-4-1 on Thanksgiving while the Cowboys have enjoyed plenty of success on the holiday, posting a 31-19-1 record. These two teams last played in Week 16 of the 2015 season, a 16-6 Buffalo victory at home. Dallas finished 4-12 that season while the Bills went 8-8.
Buffalo at Dallas
Kickoff: Thursday, Nov. 28 at 4:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Dallas -6.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Can Buffalo stay strong on the road?
The Bills currently have one of the league’s more impressive road records, as they sit with only one loss away from Buffalo. That loss came at the hands of the Browns, who are steadily improving week-after-week, and it was only by three points (19-16). Dallas, on the other hand, has already dropped two of its five home games this season, which seemingly presents an opportunity for the Bills.
There are still a lot of people who don't believe in Sean McDermott’s team, so going to AT&T Stadium during a nationally televised game on Thanksgiving would go a long way in earning them some respect moving forward. If the Bills struggle, the opposite could happen, especially for a team currently in the driver's seat for a wild-card berth in the AFC.
2. Dallas passing attack vs. Buffalo pass defense
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott struggled on the road against the Patriots this past Sunday. After averaging 322.1 passing yards and 2.1 touchdowns through the first 10 games, the Mississippi State product only completed 57.6 percent of his attempts for 212 yards, zero touchdowns and an interception against New England's stout defense.
As if that wasn’t enough, Prescott's No. 1 receiver, Amari Cooper, didn’t have a single reception on the day.
Considering the Bills defense ranks third in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game (184.18), Dallas will need Prescott and company to get back to being the No. 1 passing offense in the league, the one that averages more than 300 yards per game.
3. Cole Beasley revenge game?
One weapon that Prescott won’t have available in this game is Beasley, who is now a member of the Bills after signing a four-year, $29 million free-agent contract back in March.
The former undrafted free agent out of SMU spent his first seven seasons in the NFL playing for Dallas, and he hauled in 319 receptions for 3,271 yards and 23 touchdowns during that time. This season, Beasley has amassed 49 receptions, 525 yards (10.7 ypr) and four touchdowns through 11 games.
It should be fun to watch Beasley take on his former team on Thursday, especially considering he’ll be going against the sixth-ranked passing defense in the league. Dallas' D did its part last week, holding Tom Brady and the Patriots to 282 total yards (181 passing) and just one touchdown.
The Cowboys are currently 6.5-point favorites in this game, which seems like the perfect spread for our predicted outcome. This AFC-NFC matchup features two relatively balanced teams who can attack you in multiple ways, both offensively and defensively.
In three games against AFC teams this season, Dak Prescott has mostly struggled. He's averaged 245.3 passing yards while throwing a total of one touchdown with two interceptions. This Bills defense might not be the ideal situation to right that ship, but he has to if Dallas wants to maintain its lead in a watered-down NFC East.
It ultimately ends up being a close game, but the Cowboys are able to come up with a late, go-ahead touchdown to secure their seventh victory of the 2019 season.
Prediction: Cowboys 24, Bills 17
— Written by Clint Lamb, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ClintRLamb.