TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 12: Detroit Lions Vs. Houston Texans

Lions
Texans
Detroit Lions v Oakland Raiders
Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans
Quarterback
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.
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.
Offense
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.
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.
Defense
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.
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.
Special Teams
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 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.

The Winner Is

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans
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.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons signals to his team during their NFL game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 18, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 18:  Quarterback  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints hands off to Mark Ingram #22 during the first quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
    Week 3 Tale Of The Tape: Atlanta Falcons At New Orleans Saints

    The NFC South rivals meet in the Big Easy with Brees and company looking for their first win.

  2. CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19: Danny Trevathan #59 and Akiem Hicks #96 of the Chicago Bears
stop Ryan Mathews #24 of the Philadelphia Eagles
at Soldier Field on September 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Eagels defeated the Bears 29-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates with teammates center Travis Frederick #72 and offensive guard La\'el Collins #71 after scoring a third quarter touchdown against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 18, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Week 3 Tale Of The Tape: Chicago Bears At Dallas Cowboys

    The Cowboys rookies have looked good the first two weeks, now they get the winless and injury plagued Bears at home.

  3. PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Xavier Grimble #85 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates his touchdown with Ben Roethlisberger #7 in the first quarter during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on September 18, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles hands off the football to Ryan Mathews #24 in the first half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Week 3 Tale Of The Tape: Pittsburgh Steelers At Philadelphia Eagles

    The two Pennsylvania teams have gotten off to 2-0 starts. Who will win the battle for interstate bragging rights?

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