The Houston Texans are one of the best teams in the NFL, but you wouldn’t it know it looking at last week’s performance against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. Should we read into last week’s game, or should we simply assume that the Texans are better than the Detroit Lions and will be able to cover a three-point spread this Thanksgiving?
The Detroit Lions have come a long way from years of awful football capped by a winless season that nearly cost them their annual spot in a Thanksgiving Day game. Last season, a spectacular offense led the Lions to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. This season they’ve been marked by inconsistent quarterback play from Matthew Stafford, a weak rushing attack, injuries, and a mediocre defense.
Still, the Lions are playing well lately. They played the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, and Chicago Bears tough this month. They’re not winning, but they’re coming close. That’s no reason to celebrate, but it is reason to fear them at home on Thanksgiving.
Even after a disappointing performance last week where the Jags handed the Texans a win (rather than punting and playing for a tie), it’s hard to have confidence in the Texans. Short weeks favor the home team on Thursday, and the Texans aren’t playing their best football right now. The Lions have proven themselves capable, but the Texans are the better team overall.
On a national stage on a day synonymous with football and turkey, I expect the Texans to play well. The Texans should have a chip on their shoulder. They don’t get much national respect because they fell short of Peyton Manning‘s Colts every year until his injury. They’re a playoff team now that Manning is out of the AFC South, but the Texans dominate a weak division. This year, they were blown out by the Packers when they had a chance to prove themselves to the world on Sunday Night Football. They’ll be motivated, and after a close game with the worst team in football, they’ll be angry.
I don’t see a relatively weak secondary having an answer for Andre Johnson.
The Texans should be able to throw the ball on Thursday. Moreover, no team in the league has an answer for Arian Foster. This balanced attack should have a pleasant Turkey Day against a mediocre Lions defense.
If Stafford doesn’t play like it’s 2011, this game won’t be close. Even if the Lions go shot for shot with the Texans, the stability of Houston’s defense should be enough to cover a three-point spread.
Houston Texans 38 – Detroit Lions 21