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The Houston Texans host the Detroit Lions Saturday in the second NFL preseason game for both teams. Both teams lost their first preseason games in week 1. Kickoff is at 8:00 p.m. Eastern at NRG Stadium in Houston. Houston is listed as a 4 point favorite.
Lions get teeth kicked in
Head coach Matt Patricia’s rookie year did not go as he hoped it would. After shocking his former team. the Patriots, by beating them in week 3, it looked like the Lions might be players in the NFC Central. But after getting off to a 3-3 start, they lost 7 of their last 10 games to finish a disappointing 6-10. The 2019 preseason did not get off to a great start as they got their teeth kicked in by the Patriots last Thursday, losing 31-3. There were literally no good highlights for the Lions, only bad ones. Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, who the Lions picked up in the off season to provide depth at the position, broke his leg and is out for the season. Also, backup quarterback Tom Savage left the game with a head injury. It’s not clear how long he’ll be out, but the Lions did go out and sign back QB Josh Johnson, so it’s unlikely Savage will be back for awhile.
The Lions seem to be heading into the 2019 season looking to add some balance to their offense. No longer, it appears, will they put their hopes solely on the arm of quarterback Matthew Stafford. Last year, running back Kerryon Johnson had a breakout year and he figures to be featured once again. They also added veteran running back CJ Anderson from the Rams. He’ll provide a nice one-two punch with Johnson. They also brought back Zach Zenner to provide a change of pace. The offensive line suffered the loss of pro-bowler TJ Lang, who is retiring. But the rest of the line is intact. The receiving corps lost Kearse, but still has solid starters in Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, and off-season pick up Danny Amendola. Second-year players Chris Lacy and Andy Jones may be among the players counted on to fill the void left by Kearse, or they’ll go out and get someone else. The Lions also shored up the tight end position, signing Jesse James from the Steelers and drafting TJ Hockenson from Iowa in the first round.
The biggest offseason move came on defense as the Lions signed former Patriot Trey Flowers to play defensive end. Flowers had a great year in 2018 with 7.5 sacks and he was the best defensive end on the market. He’ll join all-pro nose tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison and defensive end Romeo Okwara, who also had 7.5 sacks last year, upfront. Middle linebacker Jarrad Davis, who led the team in tackles, anchors the linebacking corps. The secondary is led by pro bowler Darius Slay at cornerback. The Lions picked up Justin Coleman from Seattle to play the other corner. At safety, they lost Glover Quin to free agency, but still have Quandre Diggs back there playing centerfield. They also drafted safety Will Harris from Boston College.
Texans look decent in opener
The Houston Texans lost their preseason opener last week to Green Bay by the score of 28-26 at Lambeau Field. Deshaun Watson did not play a snap, but backup Joe Webb saw a lot of action. Webb went 25 for 40 with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Webb also led the team in rushing with 47 yards on 6 carries. Rookie Karan Higdon out of Michigan had 37 yards on 8 carries, while rookie Damarea Crockett from Missouri had 24 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Rookie Tyron Johnson out of Oklahoma State had 2 catches and a team-high 48 yards. Tight end Jerrell Adams caught a touchdown pass. Wide receiver Keke Coutee left the game with an ankle injury, but the team said it’s not major and shouldn’t cause him to miss any real games.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) August 9, 2019
The Texans are coming off a year where they finished 11-5 but once again flamed out in the playoffs. The biggest concern for coach Bill O’Brien’s Texans is the offensive line. Quarterback Deshaun Watson was sacked more than any other quarterback last season, so if the Texans want to make a run, they need to do a better job of protecting him. Toward that end, the Texans made some moves to shore up that porous line. They signed offensive tackle Matt Kalil and took o-linemen Tytus Howard and Max Scharping with their first two draft picks. Also, tackle Seantrel Henderson, who missed most of last year with a broken ankle, is back healthy. If they protect Watson, they could be very good. Watson had a great season throwing for over 4,100 yards with 26 touchdowns — and he ran for another 5. DeAndre Hopkins is one of the 3 best receivers in the game, and Will Fuller is a nice second receiver with Keke Coutee adding depth. Jordan Thomas and Jordan Akins will compete for tight end, while Lamar Miller looks like a lock to be the main running back. But the Texans did add Duke Johnson from the Browns and he’ll be counted on to carry the load along with Miller. D’Onta Freeman was waived and is now with the Colts.
Coach Bill O’Brien commented on how Thursday’s practice went:
“I think we’ve done a lot of situational work,” O’Brien said after Thursday’s practice. “I think we’ve got to get better in some of our two-minute situations, but I we got a lot of red area work, a lot of third-down work. Yeah, I thought we got a lot done, no doubt. A lot of red area today, which was good. It was really good.”
On defense, the Texans have one of the best front 7s in football, led by J.J. Watt (16 sacks), Jadaveon Clowney (9 sacks) and linebacker Whitney Mercilus. This unit will create havoc rushing the passer and stopping the run. The secondary is more of an issue. The defensive backs were not great last year and they lost safety Tyrann Mathieu and cornerback Kareem Jackson. They’ll need to count on corners Tashaun Gipson, Bradley Roby, and Justin Reid. They also drafted a couple of corners in Lonnie Johnson and Xavier Crawford.
- Lions are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games on fieldturf.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Take the Texans. Houston looked halfway decent in their preseason opener despite losing to the Packers 28-26. The Lions, on the other hand, were not ready for prime time, getting crushed 31-3. They allowed 9 sacks and got their backup quarterback Tom Savage hurt. It’s not clear how much time the starters will get in this game, but the backups didn’t look good for Detroit. David Fales — who was 5 for 14 for 62 yards and an INT — and newcomer Josh Jonson don’t instill much confidence against the Houston defense. Meanwhile, while backup QB AJ McCarron will miss the preseason with a hand injury, third-stringer Joe Webb looked good against Green Bay.
Prediction: Houston -4
Full-Game Total Pick
Take the under. With David Fales and journeyman Josh Johnson handling most of the quarterback duties, this is a no-brainer. I don’t expect the Lions to score much against Houston at all. The Texans, on the other hand, should shred the Lions defense but not enough to push it into the over. The under is 7-0 in Lions last 7 games overall and 4-1 in their last 5 road games. Also, the under is 4-0 in Texans last 4 home games and 4-1 in their last 5 games on fieldturf.