Will the quarterback match-up determine the winner?
The quarterback match-up is one-sided statistically. Matt Stafford has outperformed Brock Osweiler in virtually every category. Stafford has been particularly good in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. Would his statistics be as good if the Lions played the Texans’ schedule? Probably not, but Stafford and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter have developed a very effective partnership.
By comparison Osweiler/O’Brien-Godsey don’t appear to be on the same page…or even reading the same book. Osweiler takes most of the heat, and he deserves his share. However, it would be kind to characterize the O’Brien-Godsey game plans as “unimaginative”. Not being all that kind, my terminology is “bland, stagnant and predictable”.
Of course, in developing the game plan the coaches seem to compensate for a porous offensive line, receivers who don’t create separation, and an inaccurate quarterback by calling safe plays. Safe as in “easy to defense”. That makes it tougher for the line, receivers and quarterback to execute.
The Texans have “chicken and the egg syndrome”. Do the player shortcomings cause the overly conservative play calling or do the players underperform because the game plan gives them little chance to succeed. One thing is certain. It’s easier for the coaches to break out of the syndrome by designing a dynamic game plan then it is for the players to excel with their hands tied.
Stepping down from my soapbox, let’s look at the running back match-up. The Texans have the statistical edge, but that’s partly due to an ankle injury to the Lions’ leading rusher, Theo Riddick. Riddick may be back this week, but his effectiveness is questionable. Matt Stafford, of all people, is the Lions’ second leading rusher.
The Texans also have a question mark at running back. Lamar Miller has a tender shoulder incurred in the Denver game. He is likely to play, but how many touches he can handle is questionable. Miller’s back-up, Alfred Blue looked good last week…if you were out of the room getting a beer during his crucial fumble.
Both teams have less than formidable offensive and defensive lines and each team’s linebacker play is up and down with the Texans having the edge. Overall, it looks like both teams will score some points. Most likely, the team that scores last will win.