Lions vs. Texans preview: Stop Hopkins, Fuller
James Hawkins of The Detroit News breaks down Sunday’s Detroit Lions-Houston Texans game at NRG Stadium (1 p.m. Fox / WJR).
TEXANS TO WATCH
DeAndre Hopkins, WR: Regarded as one of the premier receivers in the NFL, the fourth-year pro hasn’t been posting eye-popping numbers — he’s eclipsed 100 yards once and is averaging a career-low 10.8 yards per reception. Hopkins is averaging 55.7 yards, the lowest since his rookie year, but still leads the team with 36 receptions for 390 receiving yards and three TDs.
Will Fuller, WR: The rookie has cooled since opening with back-to-back 100-yard games. He gives the Texans a complimentary playmaker to Hopkins and is a deep threat, averaging a team-high 14.5 yards per reception. Fuller has 24 catches for 349 yards and three TDs, including a 67-yard punt return.
A.J. Bouye, CB: The highest-graded corner in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus, he had a career-high 11 tackles and two pass breakups in last week’s loss to the Broncos. Bouye has 28 tackles, one sack and a team-high eight passes defensed.
Captain Clutch: Last weekend’s victory over Washington marked the third consecutive week Detroit was trailing in the fourth quarter before QB Matthew Stafford sparked a come-from-behind victory. All four Lions wins have come on late drives led by Stafford.
Next man up: The Lions have had to overcome losses to several key players due to injury since Week 2, including DE Ziggy Ansah, LB DeAndre Levy, DT Haloti Ngata, and RBs Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. Now they will be without top CB Darius Slay (hamstring), who was ruled out on Friday.
Linebacker shakeup: GM Bob Quinn made his second trade with his former team Tuesday, sending third-year pro Kyle Van Noy, who earned the starting strongside job, to the Patriots. Rookie Antwione Williams should see an expanded role with Van Noy’s exit.
Who’s next? The past three games a different player has stepped up to force a changing takeaway on defense. In Week 5, CB Darius Slay had a fumble and INT in the fourth quarter; in Week 6, Rafael Bush had a sealing INT; and last week, DE Brandon Copeland forced a fumble in the red zone and S Tavon Wilson and DE Kerry Hyder had a fumble recovery.
Different directions: The Texans made a splash in free agency by signing QB Brock Osweiler and RB Lamar Miller. Miller is fifth in the NFL with 581 yards rushing and averaging roughly 100 yards offense. Osweiler has struggled, ranking toward the bottom in completion percentage (58.2 percent), passer rating (71.9) and passing yards (219.0).
FACTS AND FIGURES
* Last week marked QB Matthew Stafford’s 100th career game. He ranks first in passing yards (27,890), completions (2,410) and 350-yard passing games (18). He is also tied for fourth in TD passes (178) and fifth in three-plus TD games (27).
* Stafford has five career winning TD passes in the final 30 seconds of the fourth quarter, the most by any quarterback since the 1970 merger, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
* LB Tahir Whitehead is fourth in the NFL with 67 tackles and has 10-plus tackles in five of seven games.
* The Texans are 31st in scoring offense (16.7 points), 29th in total offense (319.6 yards) and 28th in turnover differential (minus-six).