What you need to know about this year’s Thanksgiving NFL games

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The Raiders (5-5), once considered one of the NFL’s top teams, have taken a nosedive, losing three straight games as other controversies engulfed them. Weeks after Jon Gruden resigned as head coach in October after The New York Times reported on racist and homophobic emails he sent before joining the team, the Raiders released their 2020 first-round draft picks Henry Ruggs III and Damon. Arnette, out for separate off-incidents in the field.

Quarterback Derek Carr struggled to adapt without Ruggs, who commanded defensive attention as a quick deep threat, and the Las Vegas offense has not scored more than 20 points in a game during the slip.

The Bills (6-4) were once thought to be Super Bowl candidates building on last season, when they played in their first AFC Championship game since the 1993 season. Buffalo may still be one of the better teams in the conference, but it has lost two of its last three games to inferior opponents and relinquished the AFC East division lead to the New England Patriots. Losing to the Colts last week pointed to the Bills’ problems with penalties, quarterback Josh Allen’s risky decisions and a top defense that atypically gave up 264 rushing yards.

The Saints (5-5) were expected to regroup this off-season following the retirement of quarterback Drew Brees, but New Orleans has been excruciatingly inconsistent due to devastating injuries. Top receiver Michael Thomas, who was expected to miss six weeks, has instead been out for the season and Brees’ successor, Jameis Winston, tore an anterior cruciate ligament in Week 8, leaving journeyman Trevor Siemian in charge of the offense.

The team has lost three consecutive games and was plagued by further injuries to attacking playmakers during that period. Versatile running back Alvin Kamara (knee) will not play on Thursday and his backup, Mark Ingram, is also recovering from a knee injury. Tight end Adam Trautman (knee) was placed on the injured reserve list.

Both teams are in a downward spiral, but this game is more important for the Saints. A loss would reduce New Orleans’ chances of reaching the postseason to 44 percent, according to the Playoff Simulator. Maybe they will like it.

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