NFL Thanksgiving Day Free Pick: Houston Texans vs Detroit Lions

NFL Thanksgiving Day Free Pick: Houston Texans at Detroit Lions

Houston Texans vs Detroit Lions (DET +3, O/U 51.5)

The NFL’s Thanksgiving Day festivities kick off in Detroit where Matthew Stafford and the Lions will host Deshaun Watson and the Texans. Both teams are well outside the playoff picture at the moment, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t expecting fireworks.

Watson enters as one of the league’s best passers in 2020, sporting a second-best 8.5 yards per pass attempt on the season. Stafford hasn’t had the season he was hoping for after missing eight games in 2019 due to a back injury but he has been without his top target in Kenny Golladay for much of the year. While Golladay is expected to miss Thursday’s contest as well, D’Andre Swift is likely to return for this Turkey Day clash.

The Lions are currently 3-point underdogs to the visiting Texans. Our model is projecting a final score of 29.1-26.0 in favor of Houston, so while we don’t have an edge on the spread, we are projecting the game to finish OVER the current total of 51.5. Our model suggests a $94 wager on OVER 51.5 for an average $100 bettor.

Prediction Machine’s NFL model is 183-142 ATS (56.3%) and 175-157 (52.7%) on O/Us for +29.41 units, or $2,941 of profit since the start of the 2019 season. Head over to and sign up to receive every NFL prediction.

Why will the total go OVER?

  • Both teams enter this game with a bottom-10 defense in terms of yards per play and points per game allowed. Houston has surrendered a healthy 6.1 yards per play (28th) and 27.2 points per game (23rd), while Detroit is allowing 5.9 yards per play (23rd) and 28.7 points per game (28th). These defenses should offer little resistance to Watson and Stafford, indicating this could be a back-and-forth affair for each offense.
  • Detroit is one of the worst teams in the NFL at generating pressure. The Lions’ 19.0 percent pressure rate is the fifth-worst mark in the league and their 14 sacks are the sixth-fewest in the NFL. Deshaun Watson has absolutely destroyed opponents when they don’t get pressure, posting 9.1 yards per attempt and a 15-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, per PFF. Those numbers dip to 6.6 yards per pass attempt and a 5-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio when pressured.
  • The Lions and Texans both pass at a top-eight clip in the NFL. Houston is sixth with 62.4 percent of their play calls resulting in a pass, while Detroit is two spots lower at 61.8 percent. Watson and the Texans have been extremely efficient when passing as well, producing a second-best mark of 8.1 yards per pass attempt. Detroit hasn’t been as elite but is right around league average at 6.9 yards per attempt (18th). Houston’s defense should boost Stafford’s passing numbers, as the Texans rank 27th in the NFL with 7.5 yards allowed per pass attempt. Detroit is just above them at 7.3 yards allowed per pass attempt (26th). Once again, these defenses should offer little resistance to their opponents.

How to bet the spread in Texans vs Lions

Prediction Machine’s NFL model projects a final score of 29.1-26.0 in favor of the Texans. The current spread is Houston -3. With a projected margin of victory of 3.1 points for Houston and a spread of 3 points, we have no edge against the spread in this one.

Need-to-know stats for Texans vs Lions

  • 24 of 36, 283.8 yards, 1.82 TDs, 0.68 INTs - If we left any doubt above about how we’re expecting this game to play out, look no further than Deshaun Watson’s projection. We’re projecting him to complete 67 percent of his passes for nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns. We’re also giving Watson a projected six rushing attempts for 25 yards, so he should easily clear 300 total yards of offense in this one. The Lions have been one of the stingier defenses against rushing QBs, but Watson has cleared 25 yards rushing in each of his previous six games. He’s clearly the top fantasy quarterback option on the Thanksgiving slate now that the Baltimore-Pittsburgh game has been pushed to Sunday.
  • 5 catches, 68.7 yards, 0.53 TDs (Fuller), 5 catches, 63.7 yards, 0.43 TDs (Cooks) - Although the Texans offense will be without Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills in this one, Watson still has his top two weapons at his disposal. Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks have been reliable targets all season, having both caught 47 passes. Fuller has the slight edge in yardage (708 to 634) and touchdowns (six to three), so his projection comes in a bit higher in both categories when compared to Cooks. We’re expecting both receivers to have solid outings Thursday as Detroit has allowed the fifth-most receiving yards to opposing WRs this season.
  • 4 catches, 52.7 yards, 0.50 TDs - With Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola both expected to miss this contest, Marvin Jones projects as the leading receiver in Detroit. The nine-year vet has averaged 4.6 catches, 61.8 receiving yards and 0.8 TDs over his last five games, so our projection might even be a little conservative. He’s clearly entrenched as Stafford’s top target and should have a great chance to produce against a Texans secondary that’s allowed the third-most touchdowns (14) to opposing wideouts.

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