1* Free Pick on Texans/Lions over 50½ -110
All plays are made using sophisticated machine learning models.
Deshaun Watson is reason enough to back the Texans here. Watson is one of the five best QB's in the NFL right now. But the Lions are worth a fade all by themselves.
The Lions have lost their last three Thanksgiving games. Their best player is punter Jack Fox.
The Lions were missing their two best wide receivers, Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola, plus their top running back, D'Andre Swift, this past Sunday. Matthew Stafford is dealing with a thumb injury. The result was a 20-0 loss to the Panthers, who were missing starting QB Teddy Bridgewater, star RB Christian McCaffrey and have a mediocre defense. The Lions managed just 185 yards and 3.4 yards per play. This being a short week for Detroit doesn't bode well for those key skill position players returning.
The Lions have never bought into Matt Patricia. The Lions have a long and sad history of bad coaches. Patricia can proudly take his place among them. He makes Jim Caldwell look like Vince Lombardi. Patricia would have to win 23 games in a row to match Caldwell's winning percentage. That's how bad Patricia is.
Detroit has failed to cover 15 of its last 21 games and is 4-11 ATS the past 15 times as a 'dog. There's the possibility the Lions fire Patricia if Detroit loses this nationally televised game, their lone prime time game of the year. Lions players probably wouldn't mind that happening. So Detroit motivation could be lacking.
Houston is a highly flawed team. But the Texans remain dangerous - as the Patriots found out - because of Watson. The Texans' 3-7 record is misleading due to the brutal schedule they've played with six of their defeats coming to the Chiefs, Ravens, Steelers, Titans, Packers and Browns. Those six opponents have a combined record of 46-14. Watson should be in line for a huge game. The Lions are 28th in scoring defense. They had just one sack and one QB hit in last week's game against an inexperienced backup QB who dropped back 34 times.
The Texans have stepped up their game and improved morale since the egregious Bill O'Brien was canned. I trust Watson and the Texans far more than Patricia and Detroit especially during a short week with the Lions so banged-up.