Texans at Lions -- Week 12

Where: Ford Field, Detroit (FieldTurf, Indoors)

When: Thursday, 12:30 p.m. ET (CBS)

Spread: Texans by 3

Records: Lions (Overall: 4-6, NFC North: 0-3); Texans (Overall: 9-1, AFC South 3-0)

Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Oct. 19, 2008: Texans 28, Lions 21; Sept. 19, 2004: Lions 28, Texans 16. Series record: Tied 1-1.

What matters: The Lions haven’t won on Thanksgiving Day in eight years. To change that, QB Matthew Stafford must return to the pinpoint accuracy he showed last year but has eluded him this season. The Lions’ defense faces a balanced Texans offense that fearures WR Andre Johnson and RB Arian Foster and it can't let the duo make big plays that will take what is sure to be a raucous crowd out of the game. Most importantly, Detroit has to get score touchdowns when they get into the red zone. The eight points Detroit left on the field in the red zone proved the difference against Green Bay last week. That inefficiency can’t be repeated Thursday.

Who matters: Detroit can’t afford a repeat of the disparity between Calvin Johnson’s production against the Packers in Week 11 (143 yards) and the rest of the receivers combined (113 yards). WR Titus Young will be inactive for Thursday’s game because of discipline issues, so Ryan Broyles, Brian Robiskie and Mike Thomas must provide enough production to take pressure off of Johnson.

Key matchups:

  • Lions LBs vs. Foster and Texans’ TE Owen Daniels: Detroit’s linebackers tend to excel when they can focus on either stopping the run or limiting the production of receivers over the middle. Unfortunately for Stephen Tulloch, DeAndre Levy, and Justin Durant, the Texans have both options. The trio faces a stiff test as they try to eliminate Foster’s running lanes while also looking to contain Daniels, who leads Houston with five touchdown catches.

  • T Riley Reiff vs. Houston D-Line: T Jeff Backus’ streak of 186 consecutive starts is in jeopardy Thursday because of a hamstring injury, and Reiff will start his first game at LT if Backus isn’t available. He struggled against Green Bay’s pass rush in Week 11 after Backus left the game, and Stafford’s time in the pocket dropped significantly as a result. Reiff’s blocking must improve against a Texans’ D-line whose 27 sacks rank fourth in the AFC.

  • DTs Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley vs. Texans’ O-line: Fairley and Suh are looking to build on dominant performances in their previous two games, and the Texans’ O-line has blocked for more 100-yard rushing games (24) than any NFL team since 2010. That means something’s got to give Thursday, and the Lions can’t afford for it to be Suh and Fairley. The duo must get pressure up the middle against the run and in the pass rush to give the linebackers more freedom to roam.

  • Lions RB Mikel Leshoure vs. Texans’ run defense: It may not be fair for us to match Leshoure against an entire defense, but that’s what happens when Detroit faces the only NFL team not to allow a rushing touchdown this season. What’s more, the Texans are allowing opponents fewer than four yards per carry. Leshoure doesn’t have to break the franchise rushing record against Houston, but he does have to perform well enough to make the Texans respect the run. 

Injuries of note: The Lions released the following status report for Thursday’s game: Out—  -- WR Young (team discipline). Doubtful -- T Backus (hamstring). Questionable -- S Louis Delmas (knee), DT Fairley (illness), CB Drayton Florence (concussion), CB Jacob Lacey (foot) and DT Corey Williams (knee). Probable -- DE Cliff Avril (back), S Erik Coleman (eye), K Jason Hanson (foot), DT Sammie Hill (knee), CB Chris Houston (ankle), WR Johnson (knee), LB Ashlee Palmer (chest), G Rob Sims (hamstring) and DT Suh (knee).

Connections: Texans NT Shaun Cody was a Lion from 2005-2008, and Texans WR coach Larry Kirksey held the same position in Detroit from 2001-2002. Texans T Andrew Gardner and Lions WR Calvin Johnson played high school and college football together (Sandy Creek HS, Tyrone, Ga., Georgia Tech).

Stat you should know: Houston is the third team from the AFC South to play the Lions on Thanksgiving, and Detroit will be looking for its first win. Indianapolis (2004) and Tennessee (2008) beat the Lions by a combined score of 88-19.

Looking ahead: The Lions will face an AFC South team for the second straight week when they host the Colts in Week 13. The team then travels to Green Bay for a flex-schedule eligible game set to air on Sunday Night Football. Detroit has a combined 4-23 record against both teams since 2000.

Prediction: Texans 24, Lions 17

Follow Lions reporter John Kreger on Twitter at @CBSLions and @JohnKreger.