Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. So, you know what that means. Football. Specifically, Detroit Lions football.
The team from the Motor City has played on the holiday a total of 80 times, with a record of 37-41-2. The tradition began in 1934 and they have played on Thanksgiving every year since 1945.
This year, the Houston Texans come to Ford Field for Turkey Day. They played the Lions on Thanksgiving in 2012 and came away with a 34-31 overtime victory.
As for 2020, the Texans (3-7) have gone 3-3 under Romeo Crennel since they fired Bill O’Brien following an 0-4 start.
The Lions (4-6) have lost two of their last three games since getting back to .500. Last week against the Carolina Panthers, they were shutout for the first time since 2009.
Both of these teams have had their struggles on both sides of the ball this season. They rank in the bottom half or bottom third in many categories.
Both teams come into this one averaging an identical 22.7 points per game, which ranks 23rd. They both struggle mightily on the ground as well. Houston has the 31st ranked ground attack as they average only 84.6 yards per game. Detroit isn’t much better as their rushing offense is ranked 29th as the Lions average 95.4 yards on the ground per game.
On the defensive side of the ball, Houston is one of the worst teams in the league. They give up 27.2 points per game, which ranks 23rd, while allowing the second-most yards per game in the NFL. They are also dead last against the run, giving up over 159 yards per game on the ground. The Texans’ secondary is also arguably the worst in the league as they have the fewest interceptions in the league with two.
As for Detroit, they give up even more points at 28.7 per game, which ranks 28th. Their total defense ranks 27th while their rushing defense ranks 30th as they allow 139 yards per game on the ground.
This could mean big games for both quarterbacks and a high scoring affair.
Deshaun Watson, despite Houston struggling overall, has had a very good year. He has passed for 2,883 yards and 20 touchdowns, both which rank inside the top-10. He has also added 269 yards and two scores on the ground as well.
His favorite target has been Will Fuller V, who is having a career year. Fuller V has 708 yards, which ranks 18th in the NFL, and six touchdowns. His yards are already a career-high with six games remaining. Brandin Cooks has also made an impact in his first year in Houston with 634 yards and three scores.
Watson hasn’t had much help from his running backs. Starter David Johnson was placed on the IR and missed last week’s game against New England. His replacement Duke Johnson didn’t show much promise with 15 yards on 10 carries.
For Detroit, Matthew Stafford had a game to forget last week. Besides being shutout, he only completed 54.5% of his passes for 178 yards against the Panthers. On the year, he has thrown for 2,581 yards and 17 TDs, both which rank in the top-15 of the NFL.
His two favorite targets have been Marvin Jones Jr. and T.J. Hockenson. Jones leads the team with 455 yards and five touchdowns. Hockenson is also tied for the team lead with five TDs to go along with 441 yards while leading the team with 40 receptions. The tight end is questionable for this game with a shoulder injury.
The ground game has not been much help, although they could have success against the worst rush defense in the league. Starter D’Andre Swift is questionable with a concussion after missing the game last week. If he can’t go, the backfield will be led by Adrian Peterson, who leads the team with 389 yards, and Kerryon Johnson.
Whoever is running the ball will have to be wary of linebacker Zach Cunningham. The fourth-year pro from Vanderbilt leads the league with 101 tackles through ten games.
Injuries could play a factor in this one as Detroit is bitten by the injury bug while Houston is relatively healthy, especially this late in the year.
For Detroit, besides Swift and Hockenson being questionable, they have a laundry list of other players who are iffy coming into this game. Wide receivers Marvin Hall (toe), Danny Amendola (hip) and Kenny Golladay (hip), Stafford (thumb), linebacker Jarrad Davis (knee) and cornerback Jeff Okudah (shoulder) are all questionable for this contest.
For the Texans, other than being without Johnson, the only other players who show up on the injury report are wide receivers Randall Cobb (toe) and Kenny Stills (quad) and defensive tackle P.J. Hall (chest). All three will be out for Week 12.
Now time for the prediction.
I think this game could be a shootout with both quarterbacks having big games. Watson and Stafford, if healthy, are two of the most talented QBs in the league. Both are capable of putting up big numbers in a hurry.
While both teams are mathematically alive for the playoff hunt, they’re both all but eliminated. A win by Detroit would provide this fan base with false hope of a playoff run. Matt Patricia is 13-28-1 in two-plus seasons as the head coach of Detroit.
The players on the Texans are fighting for roster spots while Crennel could be auditioning for the full-time gig. They have played well since he took over and I think that will be the case once again against Detroit.
Houston will improve to 2-0 on Thanksgiving and come away victorious in this one. Detroit will fall for the fourth straight year on the holiday and could be looking for a new coach heading into Week 13.
Texans 31, Lions 24.
All stats are courtesy of ESPN.com.