Thanksgiving is the one day of the year that you can be assured the (4-6) Detroit Lions will be playing a nationally televised game. This year, coming in to Ford Field to take on the home team will be the Houston Texans, who with a 9-1 record represent the best of the AFC this year (12.30pm ET, Thursday).
Ever since the AFL-NFL merger, the Detroit Lions have been synonymous with playing every fourth Thursday in the month of November. In fact, the Lions hosting the Thanksgiving Day game is as much a tradition as the carving of the turkey and the pilgrims and Indians themselves.
In 1934 the Lions’ owner, George Richards, instituted the game as part of a marketing ploy to compete with the crosstown rival, baseball team the Detroit Tigers. Richards convinced NBC to televise the game and now, over 70 years later and the rest is history.
As the only team to have played in almost every Thanksgiving contest, the Lions have a paltry record of 33-37-2. In fact, the Lions are now 0-8 in their last eight contests held on Thanksgiving both SU and ATS. Trying to stop this losing streak against the Texans will be no easy task.
Which Matt Will Show Up – (TEX) Schaub or (DET) Stafford?
Over this past year, both Matthew Stafford of the Lions and Matt Schaub of the Texans have put up relatively similar passing numbers. Also of the same, both have had ups and downs on the season.
- Schaub: 96.8 RAT, 2,540 YDS, 18 TD
Luckily for the Texans not only has Schaub had more ups than downs but also, that they have the weapons to make up for a bad day from their signal caller.
In the 2012 season, the 31-year-old Schaub has had three games in which he has thrown more than one interception. He has zero games in which he has thrown more than two picks. Only once in those three games, have the Texans lost.
On the flipside, Schaub has five games in which he thrown one or less touchdowns. Again, only once have the Texans lost. Before week 11, Schaub had only thrown for more than three touchdowns once. He also had not thrown more than 268 yards in a single game. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Schaub surpassed both of these marks playing his best game of the season. He had five touchdown passes, a season high 78.2 completion percentage in 55 attempts and threw for a career high 527 yards as he led the Texans to an overtime victory.
As these stats show, Schaub has by most analysts’ regards, had an average season. Before last week he had not particularly excelled in any one game but had done enough to get the Texans to a 9-1 record. The same cannot be said for his counterpart, Matthew Stafford.
- Stafford: 82.6 RAT, 2,988 YDS, 12 TD
The 24-year-old former first round pick has had a bit of a bumpier road than Schaub. His stats are slightly more impressive but yet his team faltered to a 1-3 start, one that may have been enough to sink their playoff hopes.
Stafford has just two games this season in which he has thrown more than one interception. The Lions are 1-1 in those games. Conversely, Stafford has only thrown for more than two touchdown passes twice. The Lions are also 1-1 in those games. He has eight games, as opposed to Schaub’s five, in which he has thrown for one or less touchdowns. Seven times this season he has either thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns or he has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns (twice). Again, the Lions are 1-1 in these such games. Stafford has thrown for over 300 yards five times and has not once thrown for less than 230 yards. Because of this, the Lions are the number one passing team in the NFL. Despite this stats however, the Lions are still only 4-6.
Schaub, despite less impressive numbers, has to have just a slight edge in this first ever head-to-head between these two Matts. The Texans aided by defensive end JJ Watt and his 11.5 sacks has been prolific at getting to the quarterback. Their defense is ranked seventh, just barely better than the Lions, who boast a pair of pass rushers of their own.
What to Watch For: The Battle of the Johnsons
In yet another match-up featuring marquee players with the same name, Detroit’s Calvin Johnson will take the field opposite Houston’s Andre Johnson.
Calvin Johnson leads the league with 1,117 receiving yards. He has been kept out of the end zone for much of this season but is still Stafford’s number one target. The Texans’ defense, specifically their cornerbacks will have to step up their performance from last week if they hope to keep Johnson’s numbers, which have steadily been improving, in check.
Andre Johnson meanwhile has also been the top target of his quarterback. As part of an offense that features one of the league’s best running backs, Johnson has amassed 60 receptions for 870 yards and three touchdowns, including the game winner from last week. Like C. Johnson, he has also been steadily improving and is coming off the best game of his career in which he caught 14 passes for 273 yards.
In short, both of these guys are monster weapons and as they have been all season, with be tough to cover. Expect both to get their numbers and expect to see the winner of the game be the one who managed to keep the other receivers off the board.
Houston Texans v Detroit Lions Betting Picks Advice
- The one-loss Texans are for good reason, favored by three points. Expect them to get the win by at least this margin. So bet on Detroit -3pts @ -120 with BetOnline Sportsbook. Alternatively it is -3.5pts @ -115 with Bovada.
- The game looks like it will hit the over of 50.5 total points as well as both quarterbacks are not shy when it comes to displaying their arm. So bet at odds of -110 over 50.5pts with BetOnline or Bovada.
- NOTE to Non-Americans: Place these bets with Bet365.