Five things to watch as Detroit Lions face Texans

Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia

The Lions look to snap a three-game losing streak on Thanksgiving Day when they face the Houston Texans at Ford Field.

The Lions (4-6) are coming off one of the most embarrassing losses in recent years (and that says a lot), after they were shut out 20-0 on Sunday at Carolina.

It’s quite the opposite for the Texans (3-7) who beat the Patriots 27-20 on Sunday.

Coach Matt Patricia’s job could be on the line after this game. While he said he saw some positives on the film from Carolina, he could not sugarcoat it.

“Obviously, the negative was there, and it was glaring and that’s what we’re trying to get fixed,’’ said Patricia who has uttered basically the same thing every week.

Five things to watch:

1. Matthew Stafford was pressured all day long and sacked five times by the Panthers. It won’t get any easier facing J.J. Watt who has four sacks and eight quarterback hits in the first 10 games. “I would say the thing about this guy that is amazing is how competitive he is all the way through the game,’’ Patricia said. “It doesn’t matter the situation, this guy always has that mentality that he’s going to make a play to win, and a lot of times, he does. You see games where defenses have had him wrapped up in the backfield and it’s a sack and the game is over, and he gets out, he gets his eyes downfield, he makes an amazing throw and threads the needle.’’

2. The offensive could get a boost with the likely return of running back D’Andre Swift who was out on Sunday with a concussion. He practiced on limited basis on Tuesday and is questionable for the game. He could provide a big plus. If he’s not ready, Kerryon Johnson should get a better look. Give him a start and a chance to prove himself. Adrian Peterson may be a future Hall of Famer, but he hasn’t had the production needed for this offense in recent games.

3. Wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola didn’t play on Sunday and will be sidelined again on Thursday. One thing is for certain, whoever is on the receiving end of a Stafford pass needs to catch the ball and hold on. Drops were one of many issues at Carolina.

4. The defense faces another top quarterback in Deshaun Watson who has thrown 20 touchdown passes against just five interceptions. “I would say the thing about this guy that is amazing is how competitive he is all the way through the game. It doesn’t matter the situation, this guy always has that mentality that he’s going to make a play to win, and a lot of times, he does. You see games where defenses have had him wrapped up in the backfield and it’s a sack and the game is over, and he gets out, he gets his eyes downfield, he makes an amazing throw and threads the needle,’’ Patricia said. 

5. Coaching has to improve, players need to be better prepared even on a short week. On Sunday, TV analyst Chris Spielman suggested on a Panthers’ third-down and long play they would go to Curtis Samuel like they usually do. Bingo. And the pass was complete because the Lions weren’t prepared. It wasn’t a lucky guess by Spielman, it was because he had done his homework. Funny how that works.

Prediction: Texans 28, Lions 17

Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on Amazon.com. She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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