Thanksgiving is one of the best days for sports of the year. It doesn’t get much better than delicious food, beer and NFL football starting shortly after noon eastern time. The Detroit Lions are a Thanksgiving Day staple and once again have the national spotlight on them as they welcome in the Houston Texans (12:30pm ET Thursday; TV: Live on CBS).
These teams had drastically different performances in Week 11. The Texans are coming off an impressive victory as home underdogs, holding on to beat the Patriots 27-20 after dominating the first half and being up 21-10 at halftime. This was one of the better games for quarterback Deshaun Watson so far this season. He went 28/37 for 365 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. The defense also stepped up and sacked Cam Newton twice and held a strong Patriots’ rushing attack to only 86 yards on the ground.
The Lions had one of the least inspired efforts of the week and one of their worst games of the season. They were shut out by a Carolina defense that had given up on average 27.2 points per game prior to last week. The Lions were missing their best running back D’Andre Swift and top wide receiver Kenny Golladay, but not being able to score a single point is embarrassing and inexcusable. They were only able to muster 185 yards total and never really had an opportunity to score a touchdown in the game.
Carolina and backup quarterback PJ Walker were able to move the ball with relative ease and put up 20 points. This was Walker’s first start in the NFL after being the best quarterback in the XFL before their season was cancelled due to COVID.
The NFL is such a week-to-week league. No team is as bad as their last performance and no team is as good as their last. This is an important concept to remember when betting and something to consider for this matchup when assessing our Houston Texans vs Detroit Lions predictions for this preview.
Thanksgiving Bounce Back?
The Lions can’t possibly play any worse than they did last week. This feels like the perfect spot to buy low on Detroit and a sell high on Houston. The Texans are coming off a massive win against the Patriots. This is not the Patriots of old that dominated the AFC, but it is still a big win for a Texans team that is having a disappointing year. They are entering Thursday on a high and may be a little less focused on the short week.
The Lions will be hungry to get a win on Thanksgiving at home after an embarrassing effort on Sunday. If there is any benefit to the short week it is for the team that is looking to get right back on the field and get the taste of defeat out of their mouth. If there was one bright spot for the Lions to build on it was their defense. They were able to hold the Panthers to 20 points, which was their second lowest amount of points allowed on the season. They were gashed for 374 total yards, but stepped up in the red zone and were able to force two field goals. They also had two interceptions to limit the damage.
The Lions’ offense will need to step up against a Texans defense that can be exploited on both the ground and through the air. The Texans are last in the NFL in average rushing yards allowed per game with 159.3. The Lions haven’t been able to run the ball that well until turning to rookie running back D’Andre Swift in Week 10. He was able to run for 81 yards and averaged 5.1 yards per carry before exiting the game with a concussion. Swift was also able to add 68 yards receiving and a touchdown on five receptions. Swift is still in the concussion protocol and will be monitored throughout the week. If Swift can play I think the Lions will be a live dog and could win outright.
One positive note on the injury front was Kenny Golladay being estimated as a limited participant on Monday after missing the previous three weeks with a hip injury. Neither team practiced on Monday, but he would have been a limited participant if they had. This would be a huge addition for a passing attack that was stifled on Sunday.
Slow Start With the Early Kick?
Both the Lions and Texans’ defenses played above their averages on the season this last week. The Lions were well under their average points allowed per game (28.7) and the Texans were as well (27.2). With such an early start time we think the full game under is a good angle to look at. We also think the first half under is a great play. With both defenses playing better, and the early start, it points to both the first half and full game going under. Also if rookie running back D’Andre Swift is unable to play on the short week the Lions won’t be able to take advantage of the Texans’ weak rushing defense.
Our Preview’s Houston Texans vs Detroit Lions Predictions & Betting Picks Conclusion
Here at USAbetting, we were initially looking at the Lions and the points at home, but the uncertainty of Swift and Golladay again this week has brought us to the under. We are going to be playing the full game under as well as the first half. We like both, but if we were going to only play one of these we would load up on the first half under.
The game is set to kick at 12:30pm EST, which is earlier than normal. This coupled with it being Thanksgiving we think this could be a sluggish start for both offenses. I think the players will be more focused on getting home to their families and enjoying some turkey than this game. With neither team in the playoff hunt they are playing for pride and their future job security at this point. Look for each team to come out a bit slow in a game that doesn’t mean all that much to either. So here are our picks, betting advice and Texans vs Lions predictions’ verdict for this preview:
- The full game total is currently sitting at over/under 51.5 total points with Bovada, Intertops and Betonline, which feels a bit high. The first half total is under 24.5pts @ -115 with Bovada and Intertops. We are going to be confidently playing both of these under the total. I see this being a 24-20 victory for Houston after a slow start in the first half.