Burning questions for NFL on Thanksgiving Day

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The three-game Thanksgiving NFL slate offers us a bunch of intrigue as multiple teams battle for their playoff lives and postseason positioning.

It starts with Mitchell Trubisky and the Chicago Bears looking to remain relevant in the NFC against an injury-plagued Lions team in Detroit.

Per usual, the first-place Dallas Cowboys will host a game on Turkey Day. This time, they take on an 8-3 Buffalo Bills team. Can Dak Prescott and Co. rebound after last week’s terrible outing?

The nightcap will see a three-win Atlanta Falcons squad look to complete a season sweep of the first-place New Orleans Saints. Can the Falcons prove that their Week 10 upset over New Orleans was not a fluke?

These are among the top 10 burning questions heading into Thanksgiving Day around the NFL.

Can Mitchell Trubisky keep it going?

Based on what we saw from this third-year quarterback earlier in the season, Trubisky seems to be on an upward trajectory. He’s thrown five touchdowns compared to three interceptions over the past three games, helping Chicago to a 2-1 record. Trubisky tallied just five touchdowns in his first seven starts.

These are not great numbers by any stretch of the imagination. Even then, all Trubisky has to do Thursday afternoon in Detroit is manage the game. His dominating Bears defense is set to take on a Lions offense that’s extremely limited with its quarterback situation.

Can the Lions get Kenny Golladay involved?

Needless to say, this star young receiver has struggled big time with Jeff Driskel in the mix over the past three games. Golladay has caught 8-of-18 targets for 152 yards in those three games.

This comes on the heels of the third-year pass catcher hauling in 31 receptions for 508 yards and six touchdowns with Matthew Stafford tossing him the rock in the first seven games of the season.

It’s not going to be easy against a Bears pass that’s yielded less than 237 passing yards to go with 11 passing touchdowns and seven interceptions through 11 games. That’s magnified with Detroit’s quarterback situation up in the air.

Is Matt Nagy really the answer in Chicago?

Even after last season’s surprise NFC North title, the future of this head coach in Chicago remains up in the air. He’s had to cater his offense to a limited Mitchell Trubisky thus far on the 2019 season, and it’s led to major struggles.

Chicago heads into Thanksgiving ranked 28th in total offense, 29th in scoring and 30th in passing. It has also thrown the sixth-fewest touchdown passes on the season.

Despite this, Nagy has a way of abandoning the running game. Last week alone, Chicago dropped back to pass 47 times compared to 19 rush attempts from its backfield. This came in a 19-14 win over the Giants.

Will Nagy continue struggling calling plays Thursday, proving he’s in over his head in the process? It’s certainly something to keep an eye on.

Can the Cowboys get over the hump?

Dallas has yet to get up for big games this season. The team boasts an 0-4 record against squads that are currently .500 or better. For comparison’s sake, the Cowboys are 6-1 against teams that are under .500.

Something will need to change in this regard if the Cowboys are going to come out of the NFC East. Including Thursday afternoon, Dallas has two more games remaining against teams that are over .500. Of the other three games, two outings come against teams currently in the playoff race in that of the Eagles and Bears.

Just how good is Josh Allen?

It was an adventure for Allen as a rookie last season and during the early stages of the 2019 campaign. Seen by most as a major project, turnovers became a major thing.

That’s changed a great deal with Buffalo currently amid its best run in decades. Allen has put up 14 total touchdowns compared to one interception over his past six starts, leading the Bills to a 4-2 mark during that span.

With Dallas likely to sell out against Frank Gore, Devin Singletary and the Bills’ rushing attack, we’re intrigued to see if Allen takes advantage through the air.

Will conservative game plan cost the Cowboys, again?

We saw it first hand in Dallas’ 13-9 loss to the Patriots last week. Down by seven with just over six minutes to go in horrible conditions, Garrett opted for a field goal. It came with Dallas facing fourth-and-7 from the Patriots’ 11. The Cowboys ultimately got one more opportunity to score before the game concluded in a narrow defeat.

It’s been a continual issue for Garrett this season. Not trusting his players on offense and getting way too conservative at times.

That can’t happen Thursday in a game that will see scoring opportunities for both sides limited. Garrett needs to open up his game plan a lot more. If not, he’ll end up a turkey on Thanksgiving in Big D.

Can Dak Prescott rebound?

Much like the rest of his Cowboys team, Prescott is coming off a terrible performance. He completed 19-of-33 passes for just 212 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception against New England.

The contract-year quarterback has tallied five touchdowns and six interceptions in games against teams with winning records this season. That split stands at 16/4 against squads on the other side of the ledger.

Set to take on a Bills defense that’s yielded seven passing touchdowns for a 76.8 rating on the season, Prescott will have to be at the top of his game here.

Was Atlanta’s Week 10 win a fluke?

Having lost six consecutive games heading into a matchup against a one-loss Saints team back on Nov. 10, most didn’t give Atlanta much of a chance in New Orleans. Dan Quinn’s squad responded with a resounding 26-9 victory over the Saints. It was among the biggest upsets of the season.

After blowing out Carolina by the score of 29-3 back in Week 11, the Falcons fell back to earth in a horrible showing against the Buccaneers this past Sunday.

The moral of the story here is that we have no idea what version of the Falcons will show up at home on Thanksgiving night. The best bet is Atlanta looking very much the part of the 3-8 team it is. Was Week 10 an outlier or something more? We’ll find out soon enough.

Can the Saints put together a complete game?

As other top Super Bowl contenders in that of the Ravens and 49ers continue to steamroll opponents, New Orleans has been a bit uneven in recent weeks. As mentioned above, Drew Brees and Co. were blown out by the last-place Falcons earlier in November. The Saints then got lucky in edging Carolina at home this past Sunday.

More so than this specific game, we want to see New Orleans put together a complete effort. With a Week 14 outing looming against the 10-1 San Francisco 49ers, how the Saints perform against a lesser Falcons squad on the road Thanksgiving night will be telling.

Where in the world is Alvin Kamara?

There’s a major question mark heading into Thursday’s game against the Falcons. Why haven’t the Saints utilized Kamara more on the ground since he returned from injury back in Week 10?

The Pro Bowl running back has put up a combined 28 rush attempts for a robust 5.4 yards per attempt over the past three games. Is Sean Payton attempting to conserve Kamara for the stretch run? We honestly have no idea.

What we do know is that New Orleans will have to get Kamara more involved in the running game moving forward if the team wants to earn home-field advantage in the NFC Playoffs. Following Thursday’s outing, the Saints have three consecutive games against teams with winning records.