Detroit Lions (4-3) at Houston Texans (4-3)
SERIES HISTORY: Fourth regular-season meeting. Texans lead series, 2-1. The most historic matchup between the teams came on Thanksgiving in 2012, when Lions coach Jim Schwartz illegally tried to challenge Justin Forsett's 81-yard touchdown run and the Lions missed a field goal and lost a fumble in overtime.
KEYS TO THE GAME: When the Lions beat the Los Angeles Rams two weeks ago, they focused their defense on stopping Todd Gurley. Given Houston's problems at quarterback, expect the Lions to turn their attention to Lamar Miller this week. Whether it's from defensive tackles Khyri Thornton, Stefan Charles and A'Shawn Robinson or through run blitzing, the Lions must win their matchups up front.
On offense, Houston is down its top pass rusher in J.J. Watt and top cornerback in Kevin Johnson. The Lions haven't run the ball effectively this year; but, as long as Matthew Stafford remains upright, they should have opportunities to throw the ball downfield.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Lions DE Ziggy Ansah vs. Texans RT Chris Clark. Ansah plays more right end than left end, but the Lions have moved him around plenty this year and they'll no doubt try to match him up against Clark at times Sunday. Coming off a 14.5-sack season, Ansah still is looking for his first sack this year. He missed three games with a high ankle sprain and has just three tackles in his two games since returning. Clark is expected to start in place of Derek Newton, who tore the patellar tendons in both knees on Monday.
--Lions WR Anquan Boldin vs. Texans CB Kareem Jackson. Boldin has been quietly productive as the Lions' slot receiver this year. He's second on the team with 32 catches, and he has caught a touchdown pass each of the last two weeks. Jackson has taken on a more prominent role since Kevin Johnson's injury, but he still plays inside in nickel packages. Last week, he got beat for a touchdown in the red zone.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Lions CB Nevin Lawson. Darius Slay is expected to miss Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, which means Lawson slides over to the No. 1 cornerback spot, where he'll match up plenty with DeAndre Hopkins. Lawson has been inconsistent in his first full season as a starter. He has four penalties and lost playing time to Johnson Bademosi earlier this month because of his uneven play, but he's physical with receivers and seems unfazed when he allows a big play. If officials call a tight game, Lawson could be in for a long afternoon.
INJURY REPORT: Detroit -- Out: LB DeAndre Levy (knee, quadricep), CD Darius Slay (hamstring). Questionable: TE Eric Ebron (ankle, knee), CB Nevin Lawson (foot), DT Haloti Ngata (shoulder), T Riley Rieff (illness), T Corey Robinson (ankle), TE Cole Wick (knee). Houston -- Out: LB Brian Peters (quadricep). Questionable: LB Jadeveon Clowney (elbow), S Quintin Demps (calf), RB Jonathan Grimes (ankle), RB Lamar Miller (shoulder).
FAST FACTS: The Lions haven't played a game with more than a touchdown difference this season. Their four wins have been by a total of 11 points, and their three losses also have been by 11 points. ... Lions QB Matthew Stafford has 27,890 passing yards, the most in NFL history in a player's first 100 games. He threw for 441 yards and two TDs in the last meeting with the Texans. ... Lions WR Anquan Boldin caught the winning 18-yard TD pass with 16 seconds remaining in Week 7. He is looking for a third straight game with a TD catch. ... LB Tahir Whitehead led Detroit with 12 tackles last week and has nine or more tackles in six of the past seven games. He is fourth in the NFL with 67 tackles. ... In his past four at home, RB Lamar Miller has 500 scrimmage yards (420 rushing) and two TDs. His 581 rushing yards are fifth in the NFL. ... Houston LB Bernardrick McKinney ranks second in the NFL with 69 tackles. DE Jadeveon Clowney leads all NFL defensive ends with eight tackles for loss.
PREDICTION: The Lions have won three straight close games at home, but can they do it on the road? Houston's inconsistent passing game and poor run defense says yes.
OUR PICK: Lions, 20-13.