The Raiders (5-5), once considered one of the best teams in the NFL, have taken the plunge, losing three straight games as other controversies engulf them. Weeks after Jon Gruden stepped down as head coach in October after the New York Times reported racist and homophobic emails he sent before joining the team, the Raiders published their picks of 2020 first round draft, Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette, for off-field incidents.
Quarterback Derek Carr struggled to adjust without Ruggs, who garnered defensive attention as a deep and quick threat, and the Las Vegas offense didn’t score more than 20 points in a game. while skidding.
Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints, 8:20 p.m., NBC
The Bills (6-4) were once considered Super Bowl contenders who leaned on last season, when they appeared in their first AFC Championship game since the 1993 season. Buffalo can still be there. ‘one of the best teams in the conference, but have lost two of their last three games to inferior opponents and ceded the AFC East Division lead to the New England Patriots. The loss to the Colts last week highlighted the Bills’ problems with penalties, risky decisions by quarterback Josh Allen and a top defense that atypically allowed 264 rushing yards.
The Saints (5-5) were due to regroup after quarterback Drew Brees retired this offseason, but New Orleans have been unbearably inconsistent with devastating injuries. Top receiver Michael Thomas, who was due to miss six weeks, is rather absent for the season and Brees successor Jameis Winston tore an anterior cruciate ligament in week 8, leaving mate Trevor Siemian in charge of the offensive.
The team have lost three straight games and, during that time, have been beset by even more offensive playmaker injuries. Versatile running back Alvin Kamara (knee) will not play on Thursday, and his replacement, Mark Ingram, is also recovering from a knee injury. Tight end Adam Trautman (knee) has been placed on the reserve injured list.
Both teams are on a downslide, but this game is more important to the Saints. A loss would reduce New Orleans’ chances of reaching the playoffs to 44%, according to the Playoff Simulator. Maybe they will play like this.