Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#425 Detroit Lions vs.
#426 Houston Texans
Saturday, August 17, 2019 at 8:00pm EDT
NRG Stadium, Houston
Written by Nick Raffoul

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The Detroit Lions will travel to NRG Stadium on Saturday evening as they prepare for their Week 2 preseason battle versus the Houston Texans.

These teams are both coming off losses in their first week of preseason action. The Lions have plenty of question marks on offense heading into the season, but were unable to ease those concerns after amassing just three points in their preseason opener. Meanwhile, the Texans opted to play just one quarterback in their Week 1 loss. Will the Lions be able to bounce back in their Week 2 matchup in Houston on Saturday evening?

Lions lose Kearse for season with broken leg

The Lions were blasted in their first preseason game of the year, losing to the New England Patriots 31-3. However, their biggest loss in that game came when first-team wide receiver Jermaine Kearse was blindsided by a missed tackler, breaking the receiver’s leg and ending his season before it ever got started. Kearse was trending towards having a key role on a roster in desperate need of playmakers on the outside. The next-man-up following Kearse’s injury will be a major focal point over the next few weeks, as the eight receivers on the roster behind Kearse have caught a total of 42 passes in the NFL. In recent years, the Lions have carried as few as four receivers on the roster, but they will likely enter the regular season with a few added options on the outside. One of those could be former scout teamer Chris Lacy, who has been an early standout on the practice field. Lacy has seen a bump in workload, both due to Kearse’s injury and starter Marvin Jones’ recovery from last year’s season-ending injury. 

Detroit also made a couple of moves in the secondary following their Week 1 loss, signing AAF standout Jamar Summers and releasing cornerback Marcus Cooper Sr. Cooper was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Bears in 2018 and played well enough to land a 2019 contract, but struggled to stay healthy during training camp. Meanwhile, Summers recorded a Pro Football Focus coverage grade of 77.6, while registering three interceptions and six pass breakups, despite being targeted just 33 times during the AAF season. 

The Lions also brought in Josh Johnson at quarterback, who was signed because Tom Savage suffered a concussion in the preseason opener. Savage completed just 2 of 3 passes for 40 yards while David Fales played most of the way and struggled (5-of-14, 62 yds, 1 INT). Johnson, who is a six-year vet, could eventually push Savage for the backup job to Matthew Stafford.

Rookie running back Ty Johnson has played so well, that the Lions were able to deal Theo Riddick. Johnson has made plays all throughout Lions camp. In the opener against New England, he was one of the few bright spots with 22 yards rushing in three attempts. He also had a 13-yard pickup nullified by a penalty. He shined as well on Wednesday in their joint practice against Houston.

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Texans opt to play Joe Webb for entire game

The Texans lost their preseason opener versus the Green Bay Packers last week 28-26, but they got a glimpse of how their 53-man roster will round out in a few weeks. Backup quarterback Joe Webb started the entire game at quarterback, leading the offense to back-to-back scoring drives in the first half. The 10-year veteran completed 25-of-40 passes for 286 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions on the day, while also rushing for a team-high 47 yards on six carries. Webb will continue to get the majority of the work, as fellow backup A.J. McCarron is expected to start the season on the PUP list. One of their biggest weaknesses last week was generating pressure on the quarterback. First-teamers J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney sat out and the rest of the Texans’ defensive line combined for a total of zero sacks, zero quarterback hits and zero tackles for a loss. 

Among the Texans that bolstered their chance to earn a roster spot were a couple of undrafted rookies. Wide receiver Tyron Johnson, a former five-star recruit, flashed his big-play ability by catching two passes for 48 yards. Johnson has wowed the coaching staff with his combination of size (6’1″, 193 lbs) and speed (4.34 40-yard dash), establishing himself as a potential big-play threat in the passing game. Meanwhile, a couple of undrafted running backs made the most of their first opportunity at the NFL level. Karan Higdon started his NFL career off with three straight runs of six yards or more, finishing with 37 yards on eight carries. Meanwhile, fellow undrafted rookie Damarea Crockett finished with 24 yards and a score on six carries. Crockett bulldozed defenders on a goal-line carry, proving that he could be an effective change-of-pace back behind starter Lamar Miller and pass-catcher Duke Johnson. 

Clowney’s issue right now is his contract. He’s skipping camp as an unsigned franchise player without any financial penalty. Houston has reportedly discussed trading him, but in order to do so, he would have to sign his $15.967 million franchise tender.

Another key for Houston is their offensive line. They’ve had to deal with injuries to center Nick Martin and guard/center Greg Mancz.

“We’re getting more towards where we believe it’ll be,” head coach Bill O’Brien said. “Nick hasn’t been in there, obviously, so that’s a big part of it. Greg got injured last week in the game, so those guys are big parts of it. It’s good that we have Zach Fulton who can play in there in center, but I’d say that is still a work in progress, but we’re getting closer to what we believe it’ll be.

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The Lions have several question marks on offense, especially on the outside, where they lack playmakers for quarterback Matthew Stafford. Meanwhile, DeShaun Watson is expected to get some run in this game, which should give Houston a bit of a boost offensively. Joe Webb will get the rest of the reps at quarterback and he should be a step up from the Lions’ backups, who combined for just 102 yards passing last week. Webb can move the ball through the air, as well as with his legs, which should also help Houston’s ground attack as well. Take the Texans to cover the spread at home in this Week 2 preseason showdown at NRG Stadium on Saturday night. 

Prediction: Houston

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While Watson is expected to get a series or two in this game, I wouldn’t expect Houston to take too many chances with their franchise quarterback, which would put the ball in Webb’s hands for the majority of the game. Webb played a full game versus the Packers last week and mustered up just 26 points against second-and-third teamers. Meanwhile, the Lions’ backup quarterbacks did not inspire any sort of confidence following their Week 1 performance, combining to go 7-for-17 passing for 102 yards and an interception. Look for this game to stay under the projected total on Saturday evening. 

Prediction: Under 42.5

Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. He uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits.