The Houston Texans travel to Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, to battle the struggling Detroit Lions in Thursday night NFL football action beginning at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Currently, the Houston Texans are favored by 2.5 points for this Thanksgiving Day contest while the total stands at 51.5 points.
And while each of these squads have struggled in 2020, the Houston Texans enter this contest winning two of their last three games, including picking up a 26-20 home win over the New England Patriots in their last matchup Sunday in addition to covering for the second straight time as underdogs, this time as 2.5 point dogs. Detroit, on the other hand, has dropped three of their last four games entering this contest in addition to going 1-3 against the spread during this time, including dropping a road contest to the Carolina Panthers last weekend as three-point favorites.
These teams have not matched up since October of 2016 when the Texans were able to take a 20-13 victory as one point favorites. Important to note that this contest was a defensive-minded affair from start to finish as both teams finished the game with less than 300 total yards; However, Houston was able to limit the Lions to just 58 yards rushing while the offense was able to get off to a quick start while also winning the time of possession battle in having a ball for over 33 minutes in the victory.
Watson continues to shine for TexansDeShaun Watson had another 300-plus yard performance versus New England as he finished the contest going 28-37 for 344 yards along with two touchdowns. Furthermore, Watson also led what has been a dismal rushing attack for the Texans in 2020 with 36 yards on six attempts for a rushing score as well. Important to note that Houston is ranked 31st in the league in racking up just 85 yards per game on the ground. Nonetheless, their offense has really shined within their passing game as Houston is ranked 8th in the league while putting up 274 yards per game, led by Brandin Cooks, who has 634 yards and three TDS on the season, Jordan Akins, who has really performed well from his tight end position , along with receiver Will Fuller IV, who leads the core with 708 yards along with six touchdowns .
Each of these three receivers combined for 15 catches along with just under 250 yards versus a New England Patriots defense that has struggled much in 2020. Important to note that Watson has not thrown an interception in five games for Houston while completing just over 70% of his passes during this time.
Important to note that the running game may likely struggle in this contest as leading rusher David Johnson, who has 569 yards along with four TD’s on this season, is out indefinitely due to concussion. To make matters worse, guard Senio Kalemente along with tackle Laremy Tunsil are each questionable for Thursday's contest due to concussions / illness issues. Receiver Kenny Stills is questionable with a quadricep injury while Randall Cobb has already been ruled out for this contest due to a toe injury. Regardless of whether these players suit up or not, the Texans should have a decent amount of success in this contest as they will be facing a defense for Detroit that is ranked at or near the bottom in every major defensive category in the NFL. In fact, Detroit has allowed 30-plus points in two of their last three home games, overall.
The defense for Houston has also been worked over many times this season as they are not only ranked next to last in the league in total yards allowed per game, but are ranked dead last in rushing yards allowed per game along with takeaways. To make matters worse, defensive tackle P. J. Hall is on injured reserve due to a pectoral injury while nose tackle Brandon Dunn is questionable with a leg injury. It should be noted that linebacker Dylan Cole is also out indefinitely with a back injury while cornerbacks Lonnie Johnson Jr. is questionable with an upper-body injury while Michael Thomas is already on injured reserve due to a pectoral issue.
In fact, the defense for the Texans allowed an average of 31 points per game in four straight road contests before their last road outing where they fell by a 10-7 score to the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. J. J. Watt leads the team with four sacks on the year, however the Texans have had huge issues in stopping the run this season; Yet, they will now seek to bump up their stats a bit when they challenge a rushing attack for Detroit that has also struggled running the ball as well in posting just 95 rushing yards per game.
Lions shutout in road loss to PanthersDetroit not only racked up a dismal 185 total yards, including 40 rushing yards versus Carolina, but the offensive line also gave up five sacks for the contest in addition to the Lions losing a fumble in a shutout defeat. Matthew Stafford and the passing attack has been a saving grace for the Lions in 2020 as they enter this contest ranking 15th in the NFL while putting up 248 yards per game; However, Stafford went 18 - 33 versus Carolina for 178 yards while receiver T. J. Hockenson led the team with four receptions for 68 yards. Leading receiver Marvin Jones Jr., who has 455 yards along with five TD’s on the season, had four receptions for 51 yards.
And while Adrian Peterson serves as the bell cow at running back for Detroit and has racked up 467 yards on the season for a 3.7 yards-per-carry average, the running back has only a total of 104 yards in his last five contests, including zero rushing touchdowns. Nonetheless, with Houston struggling severely in stopping the rush in 2020, one can certainly expect the Lions to gear up their rushing attack for this contest to spark themselves in an area that has been difficult to watch this season.
However, leading rusher D’Andre Swift is questionable for this contest with a concussion while Joe Dahl may be missed on the offensive line as the guard is questionable with a back injury. Furthermore, Stafford and the passing attack may be without receiver Danny Amendola, who is questionable with a hip injury while receiver Kenny Golladay is also questionable with a hip injury.
The Lions have also had to deal with a number of injuries at every level from within their defense in 2020 and may be without some critical pieces for Thursday’s matchup as well. Defensive end Austin Bryant along with defensive lineman Da'shawn Hand, are each questionable with thigh and groin injuries while the defensive secondary may also be a bit short-handed as cornerbacks Mike Ford along with Jeff Okudah are each questionable with concussion and shoulder injuries. Their absence may mean yet another stellar performance from Watson, who has thrown for just under 2,900 yards for the season while posting 20 touchdowns alongside five interceptions.
To top it off, the fans in Detroit have really begun to show their displeasure for head coach Matt Patricia . In other words, the microscope will certainly be zeroed in on the Lions’ play on both sides of the ball Thursday, including Patricia’s game plan.
Stats & Trends
- No trends to report
- Lions are 2-4 ATS in last 6 games as underdogs
- Lions are 1 - 3 ATS in last 4 games
- Lions are 1 - 3 ATS in last 4 home games
With the Lions struggling on both sides of the ball along with Patricia likely on his way out the door, I trust the Texans to play well in this contest in order to pick up a much-needed victory. Again, it is likely that the Lions will be short-handed within their receiving corps this weekend, thus putting more pressure on the rushing attack to step up. However, this is not been the case in 2020 as the Lions have consistently struggled in this area. Nonetheless, look for Detroit to put up some points in this contest thanks to a subpar defensive unit for Houston; Yet, Watson and company will shine as well as he will lead the Texans to yet another victory, only their fourth of the season .