By: Domo Rowe
On Sunday, the Detroit Lions (4-3) take on the Houston Texans (4-3) in Houston, Texas. Coming into this game all seven of the Lions games have been decided by one possession. During the Lions current three-game winning streak, their average margin of victory is only 2.3 points. The Houston Texans are undefeated at home this year, but they are still winless on the road so far this year. Three of their last four wins this year have been decided by just one possession. The Lions are coming off of a thrilling last second victory over the Washington Redskins. Houston on the other hand, are coming off of an embarrassing loss to the reigning NFL champion Denver Broncos.
Detroit secured their third straight win after Mathew Stafford threw a clutch touchdown to veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin with 19 seconds left against the Washington Redskins. Stafford was solid, connecting on 18-for-29 passes for 266 yards with one touchdown and one interception thrown in the game. Mathew Stafford has thrown fifteen touchdown passes to go with four interceptions on the season. He has a quarterback rating of 105.7 to go along with a 68 percent completion percentage. The Lions also come into this matchup with a solid trio of wide receivers that include Anquan Boldin, Marvin Jones Jr. and Golden Tate. What is amazing about the Lions is that they have done all of their damage without a running game to back them up. Their running backs Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah, who have both missed numerous games on the year. On Sunday, they will be without top cornerback Darius Slay who suffered a hamstring injury against the Redskins. The Lions have had players step on and play great football on the other side of the ball and that includes linebacker Tahir whitehead. Whitehead ranks fourth in the NFL with 67 tackles.
The best chance Detroit has to stop Hopkins without Slay, is by blitzing quarterback Brock Osweiler early and as much as possible. Last week against the Broncos, Osweiler had pass after pass swatted down at the line of scrimmage. So if Ziggy Ansah, Tahir Whitehead, Kerry Hyder and the rest of the Lions defense can get constant pressure on Osweiler the Texans pass attack may not pick apart the Lions.
Osweiler must bounce back from last week’s disappointing game against the Denver Broncos. The Texans were simply outplayed on both sides of the ball in their 27-9 loss to the Broncos. Despite having a host of weapons that include Deandre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Braxton Miller to name a few, Osweiler only completed 22-for-41 passes for 131 yards with zero touchdown passes. He has certainly produced some big plays this season but for the most part, the 25-year-old quarterback has struggled to stay consistent this season. He has passed for 1,402 yards with eight touchdowns to go along with eight interceptions. Osweiler also ranks toward the bottom of the NFL in completion percentage (58.2 percent), passer rating (71.9) and passing yards per game (219.0). Look for Houston to use running back Lamar Miller early and often in this game. Miller is fifth in the NFL with 581 yards rushing and one touchdown on the season. He is also averaging 83 yards rushing per game, so if the Texans want to win this game then they will give Lamar Miller plenty of opportunities to gash the Lions defense on Sunday. The Texans are confident, however, that Osweiler will rediscover his passing touch against Detroit this coming Sunday. He is averaging 255.5 passing yards at home where they are undefeated on this season. Osweiler has thrown seven touchdowns at NRG Stadium this campaign. The Texans rank 31st in scoring offense (16.7 points), 29th in total offense (319.6 yards) and are 28th in turnover differential (minus-six).