The Detroit Lions are pushing towards a vital Week 12 matchup against the Houston Texans, and the anticipation for this tilt might not be great considering both teams have struggled in a major way so far this season.
Safe to say there isn’t a ton of hype when a 4-6 team gets set to play a 3-7 team, but this game is important for Detroit from the standpoint that the team still theoretically has playoff hopes alive and a loss would likely end that mirage for yet another year prematurely.
So how can the Lions manage to pull off a win and perhaps save their coaching staff for another week? Here’s a look at the matchups that will determine this game.
Lions Defensive Backs vs. Texans Wide Receivers
Though the Texans moved on from DeAndre Hopkins, they still have a player in Fuller who can get the job done and get into the end zone. This year, Fuller has gone for 708 yards and 6 touchdowns. If that’s not bad enough, the Texans also have Brandin Cooks (634 yards, 3 touchdowns), Randall Cobb (441 yards, 3 touchdowns) and tight end Darren Fells (275 yards, 3 touchdowns). The Lions defensive backfield has been torched this season, and last week, gave up a ton of plays to the Panthers. That’s bad news as it relates to this week’s matchup considering the depth the Texans have. The Lions will have to come up with the game of the year in order to shut down this group, who can still do plenty of damage.
Lions Defensive Line vs. Deshaun Watson
Detroit hasn’t done a great job pressuring the quarterback this season and last week, barley touched P.J. Walker amid his big day. That should be music to the ears of Watson, who can not only throw the ball but extend the play easily via run. This is a huge test for Detroit’s defensive line who has to play much tougher and find a way to play up to potential. The pressure will be on the ends in order to contain and the middle of the line to snuff out the Houston rushing attack. Watson can break games by himself, so the Lions will need to find a way to slow him down so this doesn’t happen. If it does, Watson could win this game based on his own amazing abilities.
Texans Defensive Front vs. Lions Running Backs
Detroit’s rushing attack is in jeopardy of losing D’Andre Swift again, which means the duo that combined for 35 yards total on the ground will be called on to provide a better effort this week. Houston’s run defense has been bad, but the Lions running game has been worse minus Swift this year. Something will have to give, so the Lions will have to try and hit some big plays in order to loosen things up for their offense through the air. If Houston shuts down the Lions rushing attack like Carolina did, it’s going to be another long day for the Detroit offense.
Lions Offensive Line vs. J.J. Watt
Perhaps unexpectedly, the Lions had a horrible week against a Panthers team who had not sacked the quarterback much at all in 2020. Brian Burns went off, and the Panthers had 5 sacks against a Detroit front that was under siege all day long. This week, the Lions will have to deal with a Texans front that still has Watt in the fold (4 sacks) in addition to Zach Cunningham (3 sacks) and Whitney Mercilus (3 sacks). The Texans have 21 sacks collectively this season, which is far more than the Panthers had entering last week. Watt is the player to focus on, as he still has game wrecking potential up front. If Burns can go off, there’s no reason that Watt can’t this week, so Detroit has to protect the pocket much better than they did in Week 11.
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