Not all traditions are great traditions. Case in point: the Detroit Lions playing on Thanksgiving every year.
The Lions, who basically have been bad forever, are showing no signs of real improvement, but tradition is tradition, and they’ll once again kick off the NFL’s Turkey Day slate when they host the Houston Texans on Thursday afternoon.
Houston hasn’t been much better this season, but the Texans make their way to Michigan riding high after a Week 11 win over the New England Patriots.
Here’s our betting preview for Texans-Lions.
(-2.5) Houston Texans at Detroit Lions
Ford Field once again will be empty Thursday, which is good news for Lions fans. In addition to not having to risk contracting COVID-19, they won’t have to watch their beloved team drop another holiday heartbreaker; the Lions have lost their last three games on Thanksgiving — each by seven points. It could be more bad news this year, too. Per CBSSports.com, betting favorites on Thanksgiving are 11-1 straight-up and an impressive 9-3 against the spread in the last four years. The Lions have rarely pulled the upset under Matt Patricia, whose days in Detroit seem numbered. Detroit is 3-11 straight-up as a home underdog since Patricia took over, including losing the last eight. The Lions are 3-5 ATS in that eight-game losing streak as home dogs.
The Texans, meanwhile, look like they finally have some life. Houston’s dismissal of Bill O’Brien seemingly has turned around the Texans’ season. With their win over the Patriots on Sunday, Houston is now 3-3 straight-up (3-3 ATS) with Romeo Crennel calling the shots. It also helps the schedule has gotten easier. Houston’s season began with games against the Chiefs, Ravens and Steelers — three teams who are a combined 25-5 SU this season. The Texans have been able to pick off bad teams. Prior to Sunday’s win, their only two wins had come against Jacksonville. Very much for what it’s worth: The Texans won their only Thanksgiving game, 34-31 in overtime, over the Lions in 2012.
First-half line, total
Houston -1.5, 25.5
First touchdown scorer
Duke Johnson +800
D’Andre Swift +900
Brandin Cooks +950
Will Fuller +950
Marvin Jones +1100
T.J. Hockenson +1100
Deshaun Watson over/under 300.5 yards
Matthew Stafford over/under 274.5 yards
Duke Johnson over/under 56.5 yards
Will Fuller over/under 71.5 yards
Brandin Cooks over/under 68.5 yards
Duke Johnson over/under 25.5 yards
Marvin Jones over/under 56.5 yards
Eric Ebron over/under 39.5 yard
Neither team is very good, and it feels risky laying the points against a home team on a short week, especially when Detroit has far more experience in this spot. But the Lions are bad, especially with the amount of injuries they’re currently facing. D’Andre Swift looks like he’ll be out with a head injury; he averages 6 yards per touch, as opposed to Adrian Peterson’s 4 yards per carry. Kenny Golladay also looks doubtful. The Lions are 1-4 when he doesn’t play.
On the other side, Deshaun Watson is easily the best player on the field for either team. Houston is playing with some purpose now that Crennel is running the ship, and the Texans should come in with a lot of momentum after knocking off the Patriots. Houston only beats bad teams (Jacksonville twice and then New England), and the Lions — especially as currently constituted — are a bad team.