Only 4 days after they played what may have been the hardest game of the season thus far the Houston Texans head to Detroit on a short week to face off with the Detroit Lions this week on Thanksgiving Day. The Texans are coming off a game that went into overtime against a divisional rival. It was a game many thought would be a blowout but turned out to be the highest point total this year for both teams as the Texans scored 43 and also allowed the visiting Jags 37 as well. The Texans know they gave up too many big plays last week and must correct this quickly with the Lions aerial assault of Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford next on deck. In order to come out of this game with a win the Texans must make it a point to control the clock as well as the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball this week.
I’d usually start by talking about the offense but this week I’m going defense first because of the importance of stopping the Lions offense that can be the most explosive in the game if given the opportunities. The Texans may be without their start CB Jonathan Joseph for this game, which could be huge with the caliber of WR’s they’ll see in this game. The Lions are without the teams #2 WR in Titus Young who will sit this one out as a decision of the team for insubordination. Knowing this the Texans will more than likely keep a safety over the top in most every situation to start the game and try to keep Megatron from the end zone. Normally the Texans scheme revolves around stopping the run first forcing teams to pass the ball and play catch up. Once the Texans have successfully done that it’s all up to JJ Watt and the rest of that front 7 to get pressure on the opposing teams QB and force them into making mistakes. Texans OLB Connor Barwin, who is a native of the Detroit area and grew up rooting for the Lions had this to say about the franchises 1st Thanksgiving Day game and what it means to him: “It’s going to be crazy, all my family is going to be at the game. I think just making the trip. It’s going to be a weird experience for me. Obviously, very special to be playing in Detroit for the first time since high school and then to be playing on Thanksgiving Day, it’s really kind of unique and pretty special.” The Texans are known for their ability to get their hands up at the line of scrimmage and deflecting passes and will be looking to do more of this against a team that throws the ball on average 44 times a game. If the Texans are able to cause some early turnovers it should make it easier on them as they’ll be able to keep the ball and keep the explosive Lions offense on the sidelines.
Offensively the Texans have lived by the run and play action all year long aside from last week’s shootout with the Jags. The Houston Texans RB’s have been great for them all year long and even with back up Ben Tate out they’ve been able to still run the ball with consistency. Last week without Tate playing the Texans got great performances from both Arian Foster and veteran Justin Forsett against the Jags. The Texans will need more of that going against a defensive line that includes Nick Fairley, Correy Williams, and Ndomakong Suh. If the Texans want the play action pass game to work they will first have to get the Lions defensive front to bite on the stretch plays to open up bigger plays downfield tomorrow in Detroit. If the running attack is working then we should see a lot of a player we haven’t heard from in the past couple weeks in Owen Daniels. He was coming off a hip injury and has been a bit limited the last couple weeks. But he now looks healthy and ready to put his stamp on this game if he’s able to work himself open deep or over the middle off play action fakes to the RB’s. Andre Johnson is coming off the best game of his career with 14 catches for 273 yards and a TD against the Jags last week, and he could have another big game like that if the coverage is too soft against the WR. The Lions have had problems in their secondary all year long and if the opportunity presents itself don’t be surprised to see Schaub go to Johnson early and often in this game.