By Michael Ferro
The Houston Texans suffered a tough loss on the national stage Monday night against an explosive Denver Broncos team. They’ll obviously be looking for some redemption at home in Texas when the Detroit Lions come to town next Sunday.
Detroit, though, is surging. The Lions have won their last three games in thrilling fashion and quarterback Matthew Stafford is hearing his name in some MVP circles for his dominant efforts on the field. But can Stafford and his teammates take that show on the road and win away from the friendly confines of Ford Field?
Texans Season Record 4-3
Houston has won three of their last four at home this season, despite being 0-3 on the road. When the Texans have showed signs of getting things together, it’s been at home. Detroit shouldn’t expect an easy game just because they’re playing a team coming off a high-profile loss.
The Texans have been lopsided this season and fortunate to play some bad teams who have also been struggling. But as Detroit has shown early in the season, they’re just as susceptible to faltering at key moments against a certain type of team in the right conditions.
Texans on Offense
The biggest story concerning the Texans offense has been the setbacks suffered by their big-arm quarterback in Brock Osweiler. On Monday night, facing the national spotlight, Osweiler put on an embarrassing performance against the Denver Broncos. Despite having some of the biggest weapons in his wide receiving core, the QB was 0-for-7 on passes that were 15 yards or more and was just 22-for-41 for 131 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
All that being said, his wide receivers are ready and capable, so if the young QB can figure things out this week, he could be a threat once again.
Texans on Defense
Houston’s defense showed that it had trouble against a versatile offense like that of Denver’s. Detroit doesn’t have much in terms of a ground game at the moment—something that will surely comfort a team that couldn’t contain Denver’s running backs—so the biggest responsibility once again lies upon the shoulders of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. If the Lions offense of the last two weeks comes ready to play, then Detroit could be able to find a win away from home.
Players to Watch: RB Lamar Miller, WR DeAndre Hopkins
When it comes to the ground game, Houston has a valuable weapon in running back Lamar Miller. Miller may not have had a chance to have much of an impact on Monday night, as the Texans were mostly playing from far behind and going to the air, but if they can get Miller in production early, Detroit will have to compensate.
A few weeks ago in week six against the Colts, Osweiler targeted wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins 15 times. The Texans won that game and Hopkins leads the team with 36 receptions for 390 yards and three touchdowns. The question is, can Osweiler hit his big target?
For a surging Detroit team, playing Houston in the Lone Star State after a big loss for the Texans might be opportune timing. Like Houston, though, Detroit can be fickle, and the question (somewhat) remains as to if what we’re seeing in Detroit is real. There is little doubt that what Lions QB Matthew Stafford is doing is above and beyond, so if he can keep it up, Detroit has a real shot at walking away with a commanding victory.