Momma, I'm coming home! - Bob Levey
In this week's Blueprint, Battle Red Blog takes a look at Detroit's lack of a secondary, discipline, and how the Texans can exploit that to a tasty Turkey Day triumph.
I will say what I have said since fans realized that Houston was one of two teams up for the Thanksgiving Day match-up with the Detroit Lions. Due to TV contracts and schedule rotation, Detroit had to play an AFC team and only Indianapolis and Houston were headed to the Motor City in 2012. As I said, I do not like Thursday games and definitely would rather not pay attention to a meaningful game on Thanksgiving. Now I will be watching a Texans game with family that is half-filled with Dallas fans. Color me not amused.
Personal gripes aside, the Texans enter Thanksgiving with a legitimate chance of securing a spot in the American Football Conference playoffs. At 9-1, the Texans used last season's success as a springboard to bigger and better things and are
not the talk of the NFL. Meanwhile, the 4-6 Lions were supposed to do the same behind Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford, but the Madden Curse totally struck you guys the Lions have channeled the 2009 Texans and become maddeningly inconsistent, despite some good statistics.
Detroit is a top-10 yards per game unit on both offense and defense, but they have a minus-10 point differential. How is this possible and how are they losing? Would it surprise you if I said they shot themselves in the foot?
The Lions have a minus-7 turnover ratio, sixth worst in the NFL. When short fields are given, opponents score more without racking up yards, and Detroit's drives do not result in points. With a team that has had eight of ten games decided by fewer than eight points, Detroit's turnovers alone would seem to be all that are needed to tilt games towards more losses than defeats, but the Lions do not stop there.
Penalties are another reason why Detroit's defense is giving up more points than the yards would suggest. The Lions have committed 70 penalties, sixth-most in the league, for 646 yards, fifth-most in the league. It is common knowledge that penalties are drive-killers on offense and drive-extenders on defense. The lack of discipline and mental toughness have been brutal on the Lions. Between the turnovers and penalties, the Lions are fortunate to be 4-6. That speaks volumes to Detroit's mostly talented roster. I say "mostly talented" because there is one unit that is ripe for the picking.
Last postseason, Drew Brees shredded Detroit for 466 yards and three touchdowns to eliminate the Lions from the playoffs. This came a week after Matt Flynn made some money and threw for 520 yards and six touchdowns. Given this, you would think Detroit would have improved their secondary's talent pool, but, based on performance, they have not.
Detroit has a league-low 32 passes defensed, intercepted a fifth-lowest six passes, and are allowing quarterbacks to complete 66.5% of their passes for a 94.5 quarterback rating, which is sixth-highest in the league. That defensive line that Detroit so heavily invested in has 23 sacks, tied for 16th in the league with equally disappointing Buffalo. In other words, the quarterbacks have time to find an open receiver and the secondary cannot stop it. This is good news if you are a Texans fan who just witnessed Matt Schaub go 43-for-55 for 527 yards and five touchdowns. Houston is more than capable of taking advantage of a weak secondary.
Texans fans should be thankful their 9-1 AFC South leaders get to play a pass-defense deficient team who self-inflicts so much damage on themselves. The Blueprint is simple: put pressure on the Lions and get them to stumble over their own feet while utilizing the play-action pass to jump to a lead and/or land a knockout punch. If the Texans can do this, it will be a happy Thanksgiving in many Houston homes.
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