Well that was fun while it lasted.
The Detroit Lions, having unleashed D’Andre Swift, had Carolina – and a .500 record – on their minds this past Sunday. Alas, Swift entered the league’s concussion protocol midweek, Kenny Golladay couldn’t make it back from his hip injury, and despite facing second-string (yet XFL hero) quarterback P.J. Walker, the Lions fell flat.
Well, “fell flat” is generous. They were pancaked, 20-0, amassing a puny 185 yards in total offense. To give some semblance of just how bad that is, the New York Jets rank dead last in total offense per game so far this year – at 268.6.
Apparently, losing your two biggest playmakers is a negative.
A shame, too, because coming into this game, FanDuel had the Lions at +580 to sneak their way into the NFC playoffs. After this stinker? Well, still waiting on the odds for that one, but they’re going to be significantly worse.
And things might not get better for the Lions this Thanksgiving at home against the dangerous, yet inconsistent Houston Texans. It’s too early to say if Swift and/or Golladay will make it back, but based on the short week and quick turnaround, it seems unlikely.
Oddsmakers feeling generous
You can’t yet bet on sports online in Michigan, but those sportsbooks are expected to launch late next month.
Right now, and despite all the uncertainty and lousy play, the oddsmakers that will be live in Michigan are giving the Lions a puncher’s chance for the 12:30 p.m. EST Turkey Day tilt. BetMGM has the Texans as -2 favorites, FanDuel at -2.5 favorites, and DraftKings at -3. Right now, and despite the -118 odds (compared to -110 at the other books) the Lions on DraftKings getting 3 points is the bet to make if you like Detroit’s chances. Moneyline odds, however, favor the Lions at FanDuel, where they are +136 (compared to +125 at DraftKings and +110 at BetMGM. Remember: Always shop lines.)
The over/under is pegged at a healthy 51.5 on FanDuel, down to 50.5 on BetMGM.
So while the sportsbooks aren’t willing to bury the Lions, the Texans may just do so anyway. The team has looked a lot peppier since Bill O’Brien was relieved of his duties, and Deshaun Watson is carrying the team on his back, accounting for 88% of the team’s yards. If that holds, it will be the highest percentage of a team’s yards in the last decade, per a Rotoworld report.
The Texans are going to throw the ball, and Watson – paired with his speedy wideouts in Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller – are going to present a problem for the Lions’ beleaguered pass defense, which ranks 25th in passing yards per game at 258.4, and that includes games against such not-quite passing juggernauts as the Jaguars, Bears, Colts, Washington Football Team, and the aforementioned P.J. Walker.
In short: Watson should have his way.
On the other side of the ball, insert shrugging emoji. If Swift and Golladay can make it back to the field in tip-top shape, then the Lions might have something. The Texans are basically as lousy as the Lions in defending the pass, and they’re dead last in the league in yards-per-carry allowed at 5.1.
But a lousy defense might not be so lousy when it’s Marvin Hall and Adrian “The Dinosaur” Peterson leading the offensive charge.
One hopeful, if ridiculous, note? The Lions, all-time, have a .459 winning percentage. But on Thanksgiving? It soars – like a turkey – to .480. So they have that going for them