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Top 5 storylines to follow for Bills at Saints | Week 12

Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White (27) Buffalo Bills vs New Orleans Saints at New Era Field at Orchard Park, NY on November 12, 2017. Photo by Kevin Hoffman.

Buffalo will have a short week of prep before the team heads to New Orleans on Wednesday for a Thanksgiving night matchup against the Saints.

Here are five storylines to follow ahead of the game.

1. A fight to stay alive in the playoff race

While this game doesn't necessarily have playoff implications, it is important for both teams if they want to keep their playoff chances alive. The Bills are second in the AFC East (6-4) and the Saints are second in the NFC South (5-5). Both teams have won just two of the last five games and the Saints are currently riding a three-game losing streak. Buffalo and New Orleans also rank seventh in the conference standings, which means if the playoffs started today, they would be the last two teams in.

Here's a look at how the two teams stack up statistically. Buffalo's offense ranks second in points per game (29.5) and fifth in yards per game (391.7). New Orleans' offense ranks 14th in points per game (25.1) and 24thin yards per game (321.3). The Bills defense allows the second fewest points per game (17.6) and the fewest yards per game (283.7). The Saints scoring defense is 10th (21.8) and also 10th for yards allowed (342).

Buffalo will play against yet another backup quarterback in Trevor Siemian who stepped in once Jameis Winston got injured and was declared out for the rest of the season. The last time the Bills faced Siemian was in Week 3 during the 2017 season when he was with the Broncos. The Bills had their way with the QB and beat the Broncos 26-16. Siemian completed 60 percent of his passes for 259 yards and threw two interceptions.

In order to stay alive in the race to the postseason, stacking wins over the next few weeks are crucial for both teams. After Thursday's game, the Saints will face the Cowboys (Week 13) and the Jets (Week 14) and the Bills will play the Patriots (Week 13) and the Buccaneers (Week 14).

2. Another run-heavy offense on deck

Buffalo had a tough time stopping running back Jonathan Taylor in their loss to the Colts as he racked up 185 rushing yards and five total touchdowns. The run defense won't have a break though because they get another opportunity to stop two talented running backs in Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram on Thursday.

Kamara's status for Thursday is not certain yet because the running back has missed the last two games with a knee injury. The Saints did not practice on Monday but released an injury report and Kamara was still listed as a non-participant. Ingram was also listed on the report as a limited participant.

In Kamara's eight games played, the RB has racked up 530 rushing yards and 840 total scrimmage yards. He's averaging a career-low 3.6 yards per carry and has seven total touchdowns. Ingram has played in four games since being traded to the Saints and is averaging 4.6 yards per carry and has 205 rushing yards (499 rushing yards this season) over that span.

The Saints have the 13th best rushing offense averaging 117.9 rushing yards per game and average 4.11 yards per rush, which is good for 21st. Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier believes his group will be better at stopping the run come Thursday.

"You just got to make sure you stay focused on the task at hand," Frazier said. "We know what we have to get done this week. It's going to be more of the same. In our league it's a copycat league and this team is going to come in and try to run the football.

"We're going to have to respond correctly. Otherwise, it will continue and we're going to do everything we can to do a better job in the run game."

3. The Thanksgiving stage

The Bills and Saints will have plenty attention this week as they'll have the national stage by being one of three games on Thanksgiving this year. They'll draw the late crowd with an 8:20 p.m. ET kick and have Mike Tirico, Drew Brees and Michele Tafoya on the call.

The last time Buffalo played on Thanksgiving, the country got to witness Buffalo's high-powered offense. The Bills beat the Cowboys that day 26-15 and ate turkey legs on the field to help celebrate the win. Quarterback Josh Allen had a solid performance and completed 19 of 24 passes (79%) for 231 yards and threw for a touchdown. Buffalo's defense did a great job of stopping Dallas' offense and sacked quarterback Dak Prescott four times and forced two turnovers.

When it comes to being on a national stage, defensive tackle Ed Oliver likes to appreciate the moment.

"I tell this to people all the time, just take it as slow as possible, day-by-day, play-by-play, just take it all in," Oliver shared. Sometimes I catch myself just moving too fast and not living in the moment, sometimes you just got to slow down and live in the moment and take it play-by-play."

Oliver had an impressive game against the Cowboys registering two sacks and a forced fumble. He said he hopes to have a similar performance against the Saints.

4. Getting back on track with a short week

The Bills will have a short week of prep as they travel to New Orleans on Wednesday. That means they will have just a few days to learn from Sunday's loss and adjust accordingly in order to get back on the right track.

Getting back on the right track means starting to stack wins again like we've heard many players say throughout the season. The Bills haven't lost back-to-back games this season but they also haven't won back-to-back games since Week 5's victory against the Chiefs.

Bills head coach Sean McDermott says he wishes he had the time to correct every tiny detail from Sunday's loss but during a short week, it's just not possible and the most important thing is rest.

"You'd love to, like every week, have a good canvas to work on your fundamentals and continue to refine those techniques and things," McDermott shared. "But that's not what we're dealt with here. We're dealt with a short week, just like the Saints are."

5. A homecoming game for Tre'Davious White and Ed Oliver

Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White and defensive tackle Ed Oliver are heading home and will get to play in front of plenty family and friends on Thursday. White played collegiately at LSU from 2013 to 2016 and is from Shreveport, Louisiana and Oliver spent some of his childhood in Marksville, Louisiana. Offensive lineman Cody Ford is also from Pineville, Louisiana.

Oliver said he expects around 25 family members at the game and had around the same number at their last Thanksgiving game in 2019. The defensive tackle loves to give back to his hometown and recently hosted a turkey drive to help those who can't afford a full meal.

"It's just something I've been trying to do to give back to the community, especially where I'm from, it's a small community," Oliver said. "If I don't do it, who will? I just feel like they deserve that out of me."

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and linebacker A.J. Klein are two other players with ties to New Orleans as it's their old team. Sanders played for the Saints in 2020 and Klein was a part of their team from 2017 to 2019.

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