Detroit Lions at Houston Texans: DJC Writer Predictions

Nov 29, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; A general view outside of NRG Stadium prior to the kickoff of a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Houston Texans. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 29, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; A general view outside of NRG Stadium prior to the kickoff of a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Houston Texans. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Jock City writers make their predictions for the Detroit Lions’ week eight road game against the Houston Texans.

It’s been a while but the Detroit Lions finally have another road game. It was three wins in a row while playing three home games in a row, but now the Lions have to hit the road to keep their winning streak going.

Can they get it done against the Houston Texans? Here is what the Detroit Jock City staff sees for the game ahead.

Matt Pelc (3-4) – I hate to pump the brakes on the optimism in Detroit Lion-land, God knows we could use some optimism from time to time while following this team. As much as I want to believe my hope that the loser trifecta is happening (Cleveland wins a title, Cubs win a pennant, Lions get to Super Bowl), we must have some prospective.

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The Lions are less than a month removed from being dominated on both sides of the ball for most of the game by the Chicago Bears. Remember those guys? The team that hasn’t sniffed a victory since beating the Lions?

Its a good thing to see that the Lions are getting guys back. Eric Ebron and Theo Riddick among them. While Riddick should be able to help a slumbering rushing attack, against a team in Houston that struggles to stop the run, its hard to see him lighting it up on the ground in his first game back.

Matthew Stafford should continue being MVP-caliber in this game, but the defense, even facing one of the worst offenses in the NFL, will be without Darius Slay, their biggest playmaker. The Texans have managed to score points against bad to average defenses (23 vs CHI, 27 vs TEN, and 26 vs IND)

I believe the Lions will lose the next two weeks to head into the bye week at 4-5. I have liked what I’ve seen from this team the last three weeks, taking out a trio of winning teams, two of which are legitimate playoff threats. Can the Lions make the playoffs? Sure, anything is possible, but when it comes down to it, this team isn’t built to win yet as Bob Quinn builds the team in his own image. Losing a road game to a team over .500 is about par for the course for a Lions’ team that’s likely destined for an 8-8 season. Texans 27, Lions 24

Erik Schlitt (3-4) – Strength vs strength, and weakness vs weakness. Houston’s offense isn’t good, but they do have talented skill players. With Darius Slay ruled out for the game it will provide Brock Osweiler a chance to improve on his dismal season. Nuk Hopkins and Will Fuller should be in line for solid games if Osweiler can execute against a weakened secondary.

Houston’s secondary is above-average, but Detroit is returning some healthy skill players in Theo Riddick, Dwayne Washington and Eric Ebron. For a unit that has been hot lately this is just more fuel to their fire. Stafford is playing at an elite level right now and I don’t see how the Texans can keep pace. Lions extend their win streak to four. Lions 28, Texans 21.

Zac Snyder (3-4) – Matthew Stafford is getting MVP talk seven games in but the debate after four games was whether or not Jim Caldwell should be fired. The Lions were at a low after their week four loss to the Chicago Bears and I’m wondering if they are now at a high after their week seven win over the Washington Redskins that ran their running streak to three. It was a much-needed streak and may have saved their season, but what they did is a lot easier to do when you don’t have to leave home. I think the truth is somewhere in between the 1-4 start and the 3-0 stretch that followed, and that has me seeing a loss this week in Houston. Texans 20, Lions 19.

Matt Snyder (3-4) – The Lions are flying high after securing three-consecutive home victories in comeback fashion. Continued reliance on late-game heroics won’t play as well as the team hits the road. This is a big game in the Lions’ pursuit of the playoffs, but I don’t think this is going to be their week. Texans 23, Lions 20

Colton Wesley (3-4) – The Lions will be without two of their three best defensive players against Houston, which means that DeAndre Hopkins could have a field day, except for the fact that Brock Osweiler has struggled through the first seven weeks of the season. The Lions have made some subpar quarterbacks look good this season, however, so I expect the Texans offense to be able to move the ball, despite the Lions’ secondary being without Darius Slay.

On offense, the Lions have just about everyone back. If Theo Riddick and Eric Ebron are both good to go, they will provide Matthew Stafford with an even more options in the passing game, which will test the depth of a good Houston secondary. Also, between Riddick and also-returning Dwayne Washington, the Lions should have a semblance of a ground game against a poor Texans’ rush defense.

If this game becomes a shootout, I think the Texans pull it off. However, the Lions’ defense actually looked competent at times against Washington last week. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is going to give Houston some different looks like he did a week ago and should be able to dial up a pass rush against Osweiler, led by a healthier Ezekiel Ansah, and cause him to make mistakes and Detroit will get some stops.

It will be a quarterback duel which Stafford wins in his home state because he makes fewer mistakes and the Texans lose at home for the first time this season. Lions win, 31-27.

Next: A Look at Matthew Stafford's Career 100 Games In

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