The NFL Thanksgiving Football day has three games on the menu, leading off with the Houston Texans at the Detroit Lions. The game is scheduled for a 12:30 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on CBS. Currently the odds for the game have the Texans favored by 3.5 points.
The Houston Texans had an awful performance in Sunday's game against Jacksonville, allowing the Jaguars to score 37 points and force overtime. That might have been expected as the best team in the AFC was coming off an emotional road victory on Sunday Night Football over the Bears.
Yet, now the Texans will travel again to play Detroit, which will be Houston's third game in 11 days. That has to say something about the possibility of being physically beat up. The Lions are in the same boat and are playing off back to back losses in the NFC North. The Lions led against Minnesota on the road two weeks ago and nearly beat the Packers last week, but fizzled again in the fourth quarter. Surely it seems that the Lions could have some trouble getting up for this game, albeit it being on national television.
It's a tradition and honor for the Lions to play annually on Thanksgiving, but the addition of other games throughout the day certainly have shown that the NFL doesn't want to just see Detroit on the screen. Furthering that point, the Lions have lost eight straight games on Turkey Day. The last time the Lions won on Thanksgiving came over the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 27, 2003, 22-14.
One of the problems for this year's team has been protecting Matthew Stafford. In five of Detroit's six losses, Stafford has been sacked at least twice. Great news for the Texans, who sport one of the best defenses in all of football. Houston had forced at least three sacks in seven of their last 10 games overall. Their passing defense is amazing too. That probably has something to do with them being able to get to the quarterback quickly. Detroit has drafted up their front seven the past few years expecting to have the same style of defense, but it hasn't been able to figure itself out yet.
However, when looking at the Houston pass defense, please note their struggles last week against the Jags, who threw for more than 350 yards. That might give some bright moments for Calvin Johnson, arguably the best receiver in football. Stafford has to be able to find Johnson at any cost in this game. Detroit has done better at running the ball, but if they stay one-dimensional against a team like Houston, they're in trouble.
Still, we think it's some bad timing for the Texans in this game. Detroit is in a must-win situation and they'll be on national TV, giving them even more incentive. Yet, the Lions are just 9-13 in their last 22 games dating back to last year. They have been labeled a "dirty" team but we just believe they're undisciplined.
Yet, somehow we can't get away from the Texans being only a field goal favorite. Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson are putting up big numbers for Houston and Detroit's pass defense which is much improved. They rank seventh in the league in passing yards allowed per game, which is a lot better than last season. Yet, something smells fishy about this game. Detroit's in a must-win spot and Houston is 9-1 on the season. Remember, the Texans do have the Patriots on deck next week. Arian Foster has been a workhouse, especially lately, and there might be signs that he is wearing down a bit as Ben Tate is getting a lot of touches as well. That or Houston is just loving their two-back system.
In the end, we're backing the Lions. This line should be a lot higher for a great team like Houston and even though the Lions always play on Thanksgiving, it's been a bit mythical the past eight seasons as they haven't been able to win. This year we think they get the win.
Free Pick: Detroit 27, Houston 24
NFL Free Picks Houston at Detroit Betting
What pro football bettors need to know about Houston Texans at Detroit Lions on Thursday (11/22/12) - a free pick from Pregame.com's Chuck Edel, with Vegas Runner and host Chris Andrews.
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