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Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Final Word: Texans-Lions

By Kevin Seifert

Final Word: Texans-Lions | Redskins-Cowboys | Patriots-Jets

Three nuggets of knowledge about Thursday's game at Ford Field:

Thanksgiving doldrums: The Detroit Lions have lost eight consecutive Thanksgiving Day games and are matched up against the NFL's best team, at least according to ESPN.com's weekly Power Rankings. The Houston Texans are 9-1 this season, including 4-0 on the road, and the Lions will have to rally in a hurry after losing a late lead last Sunday to fall to 4-6. Their dismissal of disruptive receiver Titus Young, at least for one week, could be a wakeup call.

Jeff Backus
If Lions left tackle Jeff Backus doesn't start Thursday due to injury, it will break his consecutive games streak at 186.
End of era: Nothing will be official until 90 minutes before the game, but indications are that left tackle Jeff Backus won't play because of a hamstring injury. If that's the case, we won't just see the end of Backus' run of 186 consecutive starts. We'll also a rare disruption in what has become the NFL's most consistent deployment of an offensive line. Since the start of the 2010 season, Backus has joined Rob Sims, Dominic Raiola, Stephen Peterman and Gosder Cherilus to play 2,382 of a possible 2,887 snaps. Over that stretch, no other offensive line has played more than 1,466 snaps together. In fact, before Backus left last Sunday's game, the Lions' five linemen had played every snap of the season together. Rookie Riley Reiff is expected to make his first NFL start in Backus' place.

Pressuring Stafford: If the Texans stay true to form, the Lions' offense line will face much more pressure than it typically does. Through 11 weeks, the Texans have the NFL's highest blitz percentage at 45.2 percent. Historically, though, opponents have blitzed Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford rarely and preferred to drop maximum defenders in coverage. This season, Stafford has been blitzed on 15.3 percent of his dropbacks, the league's lowest rate. You wonder if the Texans will back off as well.

(Programming note: Tweet me your Thanksgiving photos for use in a slideshow later this week. The NFC North blog handle is @espn_nfcnblog. It can be Lions-related or reflect any other NFC North team.)