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Carucci Take2: Look for Bills to serve up a prime-time Thanksgiving rebound

WGRZ Bills/NFL Insider Vic Carucci says the Bills will rebound from that disastrous performance against the Colts and put their season back on its axis.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — There’s anxiety, mixed with frustration.

Throw in some anger, a heaping amount of disappointment, and you have the recipe for what’s being served at plenty of Thanksgiving tables throughout Western New York and wherever else Buffalo Bills fans dine Thursday.

The wait for the 8:20 p.m. kickoff will seem eternal, even with all of the eating and celebrating and football-watching that precedes it. The primary topic of conversation between family and friends will be: Are the Bills truly as bad as we saw in Sunday’s 41-15 loss against the Indianapolis Colts?

Even harder to digest is the lingering notion of whether all of those soaring expectations that had many Bills fans making plans to be in Los Angeles for the Super Bowl in February were never as realistic as they seemed before the season.

Let me give my best shot at talking you off the cliff.

The Bills will rebound from that disastrous performance against the Colts and put their season back on its axis.

Here’s why:

The Saints’ pass defense is ripe for Josh Allen to exploit.

Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen likes employ man-to-man coverage. The last team to employ that against the Bills was the New York Jets, and Allen and his receivers shredded them for 366 yards and two touchdowns on the way to a 45-17 victory. Of course, the Jets’ secondary (as with so many other parts of their team) is terrible, and the Saints are stronger in that area. Still, Stefon Diggs and the rest of Buffalo’s pass-catchers should excel in one-on-one situations. Allen could always utilize some two-deep zone coverage, which has given the Bills problems, but coaches usually stick to what they know best. Man-to-man coverage is what Allen knows best.

The Saints are notoriously bad against mobile quarterbacks.

Man-to-man coverage forces defenders to play with their back to the QB. Look for Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to have Allen on the move with designed run plays. And look for Allen, when scrambling in search of an open target, to rarely hesitate to pull the ball down and go. He will help keep the chains moving and create the sort of rhythm and dynamic pace the Bills’ offense has lacked for the better part of three of the last four games.

The Bills are relatively healthy and the Saints aren’t.

The Saints have been without their top wide receiver, Michael Thomas. Their best tight end, Adam Trautman, has been placed on injured reserve. Standout running back Alvin Kamara is dealing with a knee injury, as is his backup, Mark Ingram. All-Pro right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, who also has had a knee issue, might be out of the lineup.

The Saints’ quarterback is Trevor Siemian, who took over after Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending injury.

Siemian is 0-3 since becoming the starter. Though he has been in the NFL for seven seasons, Thanksgiving night would mark only his fourth start in the past four years. Assuming he won’t have he help of a running game remotely approaching what the Bills saw Sunday from Jonathan Taylor and his 185 yards and four touchdowns on the ground (plus one receiving), Siemian figures to find himself under duress for most of the game.

The Bills are 1-0 on Thanksgiving under Sean McDermott, scoring a convincing triumph at Dallas in 2019 that helped put his team on the national map.

The Saints are 3-0 on Thanksgiving under Sean Payton, who is an exceptional strategist. But the quick turnaround doesn’t allow for much in the way of complex scheming. It requires teams to rely mainly on the strength of their talent. Recent developments notwithstanding, the Bills are the more talented team in this game.