And so the Detroit Lions go into the traditional thanksgiving game at their lowest eb so far this season.
As it stands, they have the thinnest thread to the playoff still existing. Run the table from the current position of 4-6 leaves 10-6, which will be 2nd in the division most likely, and just about in the 6/7th seed in the NFC given how it is shaping up. Anything less, and 9-7 has a real risk of missing out. Running the table has to be terrifically unlikely, but it starts with the most winnable game, the 3-7 Houston Texans.
Both teams are suffering somewhat, but the Lions far more so. 16 players are on the report, with Golladay, Hand, Okudah and Ford likely to all be out after DNP on Tuesday. Swift is still in concussion protocol but has a small chance to be on the field after being limited on Tuesday after DNP on Monday. Their chances could turn on whether he is available.
Houston will definitely be missing Randall Cobb, but have also had Gillaspia, Hall and McCown DNP Monday and Tuesday. In better news for Houston, elite LT Laremy Tunsil was in full practice after recovering from his illness.
The updated injury report can be found here: https://www.detroitlions.com/team/injury-report/week/REG-12
Ones to Watch - Houston
As predictable as it is, Deshaun Watson is the one. Amid a deficit of talent on offense, Watson is quietly having his best season to date. His passer rating is 108.6 this season, his previous highest was in 2018 at 103.1. He's just about at his highest completion % passing, on course for his highest TDs, lowest INTs and lowest sack rate. His x-factor ability to extend plays whilst being one of the best pocket passers in the lead has to be giving Lions DC Cory Undlin headaches.
Ways to win
Houston's run game is woeful, ranking 30th in rushing TDs with 6, and 31st in yards with 846. David Johnson is their leading back with 408 yards and 3 TDs for an average of 4 yards per attempt.
Likewise, Houston is last in the league in rushing yards against, with 1593 and yards per attempt at 5.1.
This game is going to be won here. The Lions rushing offense is really poor without D'Andre Swift, with Peterson too predictable and Kerryon making poor reads. If Swift plays, expect Detroit to pound the ball. If not, we may be relying on an uptake in play from Peterson and Johnson. Likewise, if Detroit's rushing defense can be the one which turned up against the Jags, Falcons and Washington, then they need to survive against Watson. If that rushing game gets traction, it just adds another string to Watson's bow in the play-action pass game.
It will also rely on Detroit's O-line responding to their worst performance of the season against Carolina, having been the best part of the team through 10 weeks (punter aside).
The standard of coaching, and the short week after the Panthers game gives me no confidence that Detroit will get this done. It is Thanksgiving, which may as well be Detroit's Super Bowl, but this one is going to a Houston team much improved after sacking Bill O'Brien (0-4) and going with Romeo Crennel (3-3).
Texans 27 - Lions 13.
Result - GM, HC fired on Friday. OC Darrell Bevell survives as interim HC before also being sacked on Black Monday.
Long live the new era in Detroit!
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