Happy Thanksgiving! As we all prepare to sit down and enjoy some turkey with family and friends, the Houston Texans will take the field at 11 AM CT on the road against the Detroit Lions. The Texans will be making their debut on Thanksgiving Day, and what a perfect year to do so. The Texans head into the game with a record of 9-1, tops in the NFL. They’ll look to improve to 10-1 against a Lions team currently on a two game skid and 4-6 overall.
Contain WR Calvin Johnson
Arguably the best wide receiver in the league, Johnson commands double teams virtually the entire game. The Texans could be without their top cornerback in Johnathan Joseph, who if he plays will be matched up with Johnson all day. The Texans will need to keep Johnson in check and give Joseph or whoever winds up covering him plenty of safety help over the top. This is one aspect of today’s contest in which the pass happy Lions have an advantage.
Create Pass Rush
The Texans’ pass rush has been almost nonexistent the past two weeks. DE J.J. Watt got out to a hot start the first half of the season when he led the league in sacks, but other have caught up to him. Watt is frequently getting double teamed, which is opening up opportunities for one-on-one blocking for other rushers. Problem is, nobody has stepped up and caused havoc in the opposing QB’s face. The best way to stop a dominant passing attack is to get to the quarterback, and today the Texans face the league’s best. Getting in QB Matthew Stafford’s face early and often could be the key to derailing the Lions.
Balance On Offense
The Texans are at their best when they have a solid mix of both the run and pass in their offense. Last week was an all out passing attack, but against a team with a great offense, the Texans can help out their defense by controlling the clock and playing efficient football. A heavy dose of RB Arian Foster, coupled with plenty of play-action passes should keep the Lions on their heels, the ball moving downfield, and the clock running. Last and most importantly, drives need to end in touchdowns, not field goals.
BIG GAME ALERT
DE J.J. Watt
As I mentioned above, Watt has gone quiet of late due to an increase in double teams and overall attention paid by the opposing offense. The Lions aren’t dominant up front and the entire Texans front seven should have a better day today than they’ve been having. If a few other on the D show up today, particularly OLBs Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed, it could reopen things for Watt. In front of a national audience on Thanksgiving Day, look for Watt to be fired up and play at the top of his game.
Detroit isn’t an easy place to win. Today begins a stretch of three straight road games for the Texans, and coming off a short week never helps. But aside from injuries, the short week probably benefits the Texans more than the Lions simply because the Texans don’t do anything special or complicated on either side of the ball, so less time to extensively game plan works in the Texans’ favor. They’ve got matchup advantages in most areas across the field today and should come away with a hard fought, close victory.
TEXANS 27, LIONS 24
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