2020 Detroit Lions, Week 12 | Know Your Foe

It's been eight years since the Texans took on the Lions in Detroit. On Thanksgiving Day 2012, the Texans and Lions put on a show for a nationwide audience and a packed Ford Field crowd. Two future Hall of Fame receivers, Andre and Calvin Johnson, combined for 17 receptions, 328 yards and a touchdown. Texans soon-to-be-Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt had three sacks, five quarterback hits and a pass batted down. Texans running back Justin Forsett had a controversial 81-yard touchdown run that got the Texans back in the game. It went into overtime and the Texans finally lay the Lions to bed with a Shayne Graham field goal late in the extra session.

In 2012, the Houston Texans took on the Detroit Lions in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.

Eight years later, J.J. Watt will still be chasing Lions quarterback Matt Stafford, but that's about all that's the same with these two teams. Yet, Thanksgiving Day football in Detroit is a special situation, so throw out the proverbial records and buckle down for what could be the best, and most exciting, game of the year.

The Lions offense has struggled a bit without receiver Kenny Golladay, who has been back at practice this week, but may not ultimately be ready to go. The Lions run game is a lot like the Texans run game - not really effective and the Lions run defense is like the Texans run defense - better than maybe the stats show. Either way, it should make for two evenly matched teams, even at quarterback where Matt Stafford can reach back and find his fastball at any time.

With no further ado, let's get to Know Week Twelve Foe - the Detroit Lions

2020 Schedule (4-6)
L, Chicago Bears 27-23
L, @ Green Bay Packers 42-21
W, @ Arizona Cardinals 26-23
L, New Orleans Saints 35-29
W, @ Jacksonville Jaguars 34-16
W, @ Atlanta Falcons 23-22
L, Indianapolis Colts 41-21
L, @ Minnesota Vikings 34-20
W, Washington Football Team 30-27
L, @ Carolina Panthers 20-0

Lions OFFENSE (in 2020 regular season)

Rushing Yards Per game - 95.4 ypg (29th in the NFL)
Passing Yards Per game - 247.5 ypg (15th)
Total offense per game - 342.9 ypg (25th)
Turnovers lost - 10 (8 INT, 2 Fumbles lost)

Expected Lions starting offense for Week Twelve
QB - Matt Stafford
RB - Adrian Peterson (Rookie D'Andre Swift banged up last week)
WR - Marvin Jones Jr.
WR - MARVIN HALL
TE - T.J. Hockenson
TE - Jesse James
LT - Taylor Decker
LG - JONAH JACKSON
C - Frank Ragnow
RG - HALAPOULIVAATI VAITAI
RT - Tyrell Crosby

Other Key Offensive pieces
RB - Kerryon Johnson
RB - Jamal Agnew
WR - Quintez Cephus
TE - Isaac Nauta

Bold - Rookie
ALL CAPS - New to team in 2020

Keys to winning v. the Lions Offense

  1. DO NOT let Stafford get hot - the one major worry that I have with the Lions offense, in general, is facing a hot Stafford. Once he gets confidence and gets comfortable, he can be ultra-dangerous no matter who's catching passes for him.
  2. Completely shut down the Lions run game - The Lions run game may not have the services of D'Andre Swift and that's a major loss for the Lions. If he's not in the lineup, the Texans MUST shut down Adrian Peterson and company. They must make the Lions one-dimensional, if any, and then...
  3. ...heat 'em UP!! - The Texans blitz scheme last week against the Patriots was just gorgeous and the Patriots couldn't find where the next Texan defender was coming from. So, make them one dimensional and then send the cavalry at Stafford.
  4. Big Boy Pads needed - Even if Adrian Peterson isn't what he once was, he can still pound on a defense if the Texans don't tackle in packs. Solo tackles aren't going to get the job done.
  5. Again, a turnover would be nice - It's the giving season and the Lions could be in the mood. Take advantage.

Lions DEFENSE (in 2020 regular season)

Rushing Yards Allowed Per game - 139.0 ypg (30th in the NFL)
Passing Yards Allowed Per game - 258.4 ypg (25th)
Total offense Allowed per game - 397.4 ypg (27th)
Turnovers generated - 10 (7 INT, 3 Fumble recoveries - Lions are even in TO margin)

Expected Lions starting defense for Week Twelve
DE - NICK WILLIAMS
DT - DANNY SHELTON
DT - JOHN PENISINI
LB - CHRISTIAN JONES
LB - Jahlani Tavai/Jarrad Davis
LB - JAMIE COLLINS
CB - JEFF OKUDAH/AMANI ORUWARIAYE
S - JAYRON KEARSE
S - DURON HARMON
S - WILL HARRIS
CB - DESMOND TRUFANT

Other Key Defensive pieces
DE - Everson Griffen
DE - Da'Shawn Hand
S - Tracy Walker
CB - Justin Coleman
LB - Jalen Reeves-Maybin
LB - Reggie Ragland
S - C.J. Moore
S - Miles Killebrew

Bold - Rookie
ALL CAPS - New starter in 2020

Keys to winning v. the Lions Defense

  1. Occupy Shelton - Danny Shelton is as big as a house and has typically given the Texans interior issues. Double the mess out of him and let's move the ball on the ground.
  2. Don't be stubborn, be who we are - if the traditional run game isn't clicking, OC Tim Kelly knows that he can "run the ball" in different ways.
  3. A major head-AKINS - The Lions don't truly have anyone that can cover Jordan Akins (or Darren Fells or Pharoah Brown for that matter). The Patriots tried to use an athletic rookie safety and paid a major price. Akins has to be a featured player in this offense for the rest of his Texans career.
  4. Keep 4 clean, again - the Lions pass rush is non-existent, according to the film and the numbers. So, don't let them get some confidence with a silly sack or pressure or whatnot. Shut it down from jump and let Deshaun Watson, AFC Offensive Player of the Week, deal all day long.
  5. Challenge the banged up secondary - I was going to say heading into this one that the Texans should attack the rookie Jeff Okudah. He's been banged up and there's no guarantee that he's going to play. That said, the Lions secondary is stretched thin, with or without Okudah in the lineup. ATTACK them from jump. Go after the weak spot and make it pay off...and don't let up.

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