Lions vs. Texans May Be Tough, But Injuries Could Impact The Game.
The Lions vs. Texans match up Sunday features two teams with winning records but polar opposite roster construction. The Texans are a run the ball and play tough defense team. The Lions boast a precision passing attack that has been so effective it has single-handedly won more than half of their games. This game likely comes down to one thing: whether the Lions can keep Matthew Stafford upright.
The Texans are missing the best defensive player in football in JJ Watt. I would be calling the blowout Texans victory immediately and not bothering with the rest of this preview if that were not true. The absence of Watt however has left the Texans vulnerable, wounded even. They still boast an impressive pass rush, sitting one sack out of the league’s top ten.
Lions Vs. Texans:
Riley Rieff vs. Illness
The Lions’ right tackle missed Thursday’s practice with an illness. There is no future in which he does not play and the Detroit Lions win. This will be a Turkish descent on Constantinople level of pressure on Matthew Stafford. This will be Alexander of Macedonia’s incursion into Persia. In short, this will be a Buddy Ryan’s ’85 bears defense level of pressure if the Lions are missing their stalwart right tackle Sunday. Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercellus will take turns trying to put Matthew Stafford in the hospital if Rieff is not there to stop it. Rieff may be the 300 Spartans against the amassed forces of Xerxes the Great, engaging in a battle that is more to delay the inevitable than to win. But without those 300 laconic men, Greece would have fallen to Persia. Without Rieff, Detroit will fall in this week’s Lions vs. Texans match up.
Jim Bob Cooter vs. Jim Caldwell
Caldwell likes to play it safe and the Lions are best served by playing to their strengths on offense. The more rapidly they abandon their running game in favor of quick passing that neutralizes the Texans pass rush, the better off they will be. The Lions want Clowney and Mercellus worried about getting in to passing lanes, rather than hitting Matthew Stafford. The Lions favored running formation, with an extra offensive lineman, plays right in to the strengths of a 3-4 defensive front like the Texans. With two solid run stuffing inside linebackers, and three 300 lb down linemen in their base defense, Mercellus and Clowney will not allow running backs outside. Detroit has to try and establish some kind of running game of course. With that said, if their plan is to line up and play smash mouth football they are going to lose.
Brock Osweiler vs. Himself
The Texans’ quarterback is entirely capable of derailing the efforts of his team if he gets in to a funk. Osweiler is not a bad player, but he has been playing badly. The Lions need to take an “early and often” approach to hitting the Texans’ huge free agent signing. He’s a tall guy, there’s a lot of surface area on that rib cage. Some Lions’ shoulder pads need to find their way onto that surface area Sunday.
Lions 30 – Texans 28
Unfortunately, I do not think the Lions defense is going to be back to form for another couple weeks which is going to make this yet another nail biter. The Lions receiving depth will be too much for the Texans to deal with, and the Texans’ quarterback will not enjoy playing from behind.