Know Your Opponent with www.SideLionReport.com
Patrick D. Starr
After a gut check overtime game versus the Jacksonville Jaguars, our Houston Texans travel to Ford Field in Detroit for a Thanksgiving day match-up versus the Lions. This is one of those interconference games in which the Lions and their fans do not know exactly what to expect from the Texans; the Texans and us, the Texans fans, don't know exactly what to expect from the Lions. We know the Lions have the #1 passing offense in the NFL and the #2 overall offense in the NFL with QB Matthew Stafford, WR Calvin Johnson, and a resurgent running game with RB Mikel Leshoure. There are plenty of big names on the NFL's 10th ranked overall defense as well such as DE Cliff Avril, DE Ndamukong Suh, MLB Stephen Tulloch, and the possible return of FS Louis Delmas.
What can the Texans expect to see from the 4-6 Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving? Will the Texans leave grateful for a 10-1 record or will the Lions be thankful for taking down the AFC powerhouse? We check in with @ZacSnyder, NFL Editorial Director for @Fansided and blogger at @SideLionReport (www.SideLionReport.com.) Few know the Lions as well as Zac and we are grateful for his insight so Texans fans can understand what we face in the NFC North strangers, the Detroit Lions.
Short week equals more of your questions! Please continue sending them over to me @TheClaireBear23 with the hashtag #KYO and we'll try and see how many we can squeeze into the column each week. Thanks for your support and participation.
Lions have #1 passing offense, but with DE J.J. Watt & the Texans defense terrorizing QB's & swatting passes, how do you think (Lions QB) Matthew Stafford will fare with the pressure they'll bring? (@Msawyer4)
That's a big question and its answer will likely determine the outcome of the game. Stafford is more athletic than he is given credit for and he has a bit of old school gunslinger in him. That can work both for and against a quarterback (Brett Favre for instance) so he will need to make sure the ugly plays have good results rather than ugly results.
What would you say has been keeping Matthew Stafford from having another good year as he did last year? (@TexanTakeover)
The biggest problem has been his inconsistency, particularly with his accuracy. To make matters worse, Lions receivers have had some problems with drops this year so there just hasn't been much flow on offense. That being said, his completion percentage is down just a couple points from last year while the number of touchdown passes is way down. He needs to be more efficient overall, especially in the red zone.
Seems Texans CB Johnathan Joseph may miss the game, so with his backup in (Kareem Jackson moving in, or backups Brice McCain or Alan Ball), will this game be an arial assault by the Stafford and Megatron? (@garciarafael65)
The Lions have tried to run the ball a bit more this year but their claim to fame on offense will always be the passing game - no matter who is or isn't in the opposing defensive lineup.
Did Lions DT Nick Fairley's return alleviate some the secondary's issues caused by all the injuries? (@txbobbumman)
The Lions certainly need a strong effort from their defensive line to cover up the deficiencies in the secondary. Fairley's performance of late has helped in that regard but the defensive ends still need to do a better job of getting to the quarterback. That is a huge thing to watch for on Thursday.
Lions WR Calvin Johnson has had 3 straight 100+ games, did he finally break the "Madden Curse"? (@joeeatstacos)
Ah, the supposed "Madden Curse". Here's the deal, Calvin Johnson is an amazing player but even his greatness is not capable of breaking something that does not exist. Think about it, most running backs tend to fall off after hitting 30-years old, players coming off career years are often due to regress, Michael Vick is always hurt and Vince Young and Peyton Hillis were never any good. Add in all the other supposedly examples of the Madden curse that stretch and skew the definition to justify a false narrative and the whole thing is a mess. If you want the full breakdown of every Madden curse "example" go here: http://sidelionreport.com/2012/04/02/its-time-to-put-the-madden-curse-to-rest/
Has there been any worry about a lack of discipline, given Detroit consistently being one of the more penalized teams, then episodes like WR Titus Young's versus the Packers? (@txbobbumman)
I don't think penalties have been too big of a problem for the Lions but there is cause for concern about the type of player they bring in. Nick Fairley seems to have straightened out while Titus Young continues to show he hasn't learned any lessons. It's a case by case basis and the Lions will have to decide just how many risky cases they are willing to take on. My guess is that their avoidance of Janoris Jenkins last April is an indication they will put more stock into a player's character.
What matchups will the Lions exploit versus the Texans this week?
Calvin Johnson vs. anybody :)
Who are some lesser known players who may make an impact in this game?
I would try to neutralize J.J. Watt with a quick passing game. If the Lions agree then watch for WR Ryan Broyles to have a breakout game. He has started getting more action over the last few weeks as he has healed from his ACL tear and WR Nate Burleson heading to IR. He's sure-handed and a crisp route runner with a knack for getting open. With Titus Young already ruled out, Broyles will play a bigger role by default but could be in line for even more if the Lions look to get rid of the ball quickly.
This Thanksgiving, we are thankful for bloggers like @ZacSnyder, without whom we would have no Know Your Opponent and be much less informed going into a contest like the Texans versus Lions which we only see once every four years. We appreciate the insight and look forward to seeing which predictions come true. Happy Thanksgiving all!