In the first of three games on Thanksgiving Day, the Detroit Lions (4-6) will host a game as always, welcoming in the Houston Texans (3-7). Houston defeated the Patriots in their most recent game, their second win in the last three weeks. Detroit suffered their third loss in four games when they were shut out by the Panthers.
Here is a preview for Thursday’s matchup between the Texans and Lions, complete with a free pick. Houston has opened as a 2.5-point favorite on the road.
The start of the season for Houston was tumultuous, to say the least, as the team got out to an 0-4 start and head coach Bill O’Brien lost his job. But they have gone .500 since Romeo Crennel became the interim coach, thanks in large part to the play of quarterback Deshaun Watson. The fourth-year star has nearly 2,900 passing yards and 20 touchdowns while also gaining 269 yards with his legs. Other weapons include veteran receivers Will Fuller V and Brandin Cooks, each of whom have over 600 receiving yards.
As a team, Houston is averaging a little under 23 points per game, ranking 22nd in the NFL. They’re 19th with 373 total yards per game thanks to a passing game that is within the top-10 of the league, countered with the second-fewest rushing yards per game at 84.6.
The Texans have struggled defensively, giving up the second-most total yards per game at just under 426 and the most rushing yards. They are giving up a hair above 27 points per game as well, 27th in the NFL, while ranking bottom-five in third-down defense. And while Houston has 21 sacks as a team, they also have a league-low two interceptions.
Through the first six weeks of the season, Matt Patricia’s Lions were at .500 and very quietly in the playoff hunt. But those dreams are fading fast following three losses in November, and with four of their final six opponents currently at .500 or better. Detroit will count on veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has just under 2,600 yards and 17 touchdowns, to lead the way on Thursday. The health of wide receiver Kenny Golladay will be something to watch going into the game. Otherwise, look for Stafford to target receiver Marvin Jones Jr. and tight end T.J. Hockenson.
The Lions are consistent across the board on offense, meaning they’re consistently below-average. Detroit is tied with Houston with 22.7 points per game, while they also sit 22nd with 363 total yards. Their lack of a strong run game has hurt them, ranking 29th in football, but their passing game has been average. The Lions are also 25th in third-down conversion.
On the other side of the ball, Detroit has many of the same issues their opponents do. Their 28.7 points allowed is the fifth-most in football, and their 410 yards allowed is also the fifth-most. They have been hit hard against the pass and run, ranking 25th and 30th respectively, while also sitting 25th in third-down stop percentage. While Detroit does have seven interceptions, they only have 14 sacks, tied for the fifth-fewest.
The Texans are 3-7 both against the spread and straight up in their last ten games. But it’s pretty much a wash, as the Lions are 4-6 ATS and straight up. Detroit is seeing the over hit more often, reaching it in six of ten games, while Houston is 5-5 on the over. One X-factor may be Houston’s difficulties against the NFC North, as they are just 1-4 ATS in their last five games against teams from that division.
These are two teams that seem to be trending in opposite directions. Houston has found some life since parting ways with their coach, evident by an impressive win against New England on Sunday. Meanwhile, Detroit was shut out by a team playing their backup quarterback as Patricia’s seat continues to get hotter. I like the Texans to win this game, and I’ll take them with the points.
Pick: Texans -2.5