TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 12: Houston Texans At Detroit Lions

Texans
Lions
Quarterback
Winner Matt Schaub is not a prolific down-the-field passer, but it would be wrong to label him a game manager. He understands how to run the Texans offense with expertise, reads defenses well and gets rid of the ball quickly. Schaub is a smart leader and an accurate passer who will cause problems for the up-and-down Detroit defense.
Matthew Stafford is something of an enigma at the quarterback position. The Lions move the ball up-and-down the field with little problem and they have the most productive passing game in the league in yardage rankings, but they often struggle to close the deal and put the ball in the endzone. Stafford has size, arm strength and is relatively accurate, but the Lions offense is not hitting on all cylinders.
Offense
Winner The Texans are one of the most well-rounded and versatile offensive teams in the league. It’s no secret as to why, since running back Arian Foster is one of the most talented backs in the league. He is an excellent runner, a solid receiver and a good blocker. Wide receiver Andre Johnson is rounding into form and can be a gamebreaker.
The Lions have the game’s signature receiver in Calvin Johnson. However, he has not been the touchdown threat this season that he has been in the past. Titus Young and Lawrence Pettigrew are solid complementary receivers. Mike Leshoure is a decent back who can take advantage of a poor run defense. That won’t happen against the Titans.
Defense
Winner The Texans excel at all aspects of defensive play. They are going to shut down the run first and then go after the quarterback. Defensive end J.J. Watt is involved in both aspects and is playing well enough this year to make himself a legitimate defensive MVP candidate. He excels at sacking the quarterback and batting down passes. Johnathan Joseph is one of the most physical cornerbacks in the league.
The Lions have done a decent job statistically and are in the upper third of the league in yards allowed. That’s a positive, but they make mistakes in clutch situations that hurt them badly. They are a physical team and will look to establish dominance, but that won’t happen against the Falcons. Keep your eye on outside linebacker Justin Durant and middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch. Both are nasty and hard hitting.
Special Teams
The Texans may be the most consistent team in the league on both the offensive and defensive sides of the line of scrimmage, but they have been awful in special teams. Their coverage teams regularly lose the battle and they rarely make big returns themselves. Shayne Graham is a solid field goal kicker, having made 15-of-17 attempts.
Winner It’s not often the Lions have an advantage over any opponent in special teams play, but they do against the Texans. The Lions have been somewhat better in coverage since a horrific star in that area. Veteran Jason Hanson is as dependable as ever, having connected on 18-of-20 FG attempts.

The Winner Is

Winner Texans
3 out of 4

The Texans are one of the most consistent teams in the league and they are playing for homefield advantage in the AFC. They won a nationally televised game at Chicago in Week 10, so they should be ready for the spotlight even if playing early on Thanksgiving Day is out of their element. The Lions make too many mental errors to have a real shot in this game.

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