(Sports Network) - While it is the Detroit Lions who are a fixture on Thanksgiving Day, the Houston Texans are primed to steal the spotlight in their debut on the holiday tradition.
The Texans look to win their fifth straight on the road for the first time in franchise history and keep the Lions winless on Thanksgiving for a ninth year in a row.
The Lions have played 23 different teams in their annual holiday game, but will face the Texans for the first time on Thanksgiving and for just the third time overall. Detroit and Houston have split their previous two meetings, with the home team winning each time.
Houston was a 28-21 winner in the most recent encounter on Oct. 19, 2008.
The Lions are 33-37-2 all-time on Thanksgiving, dating back to when the tradition of playing on the holiday began in 1934 against the Chicago Bears. However, Detroit has lost eight in a row on this day since a win over the Green Bay Packers in 2003.
Detroit was bested by Green Bay last year 27-15 in the Thursday meeting despite outgaining the Packers 409-349 as quarterback Matt Stafford was picked off three times.
Houston represents that latest challenge for 4-6 Detroit as the Texans have the best record in the AFC at 9-1 and won their fourth game in a row this past weekend.
It certainly wasn't easy as the Texans need to climb out of a 14-point hole against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Quarterback Matt Schaub completed a pair of touchdown passes to tight end Garrett Graham over the final 5:39 of the fourth quarter.
The two clubs then traded field goals in overtime before Schaub flung a screen pass to wide receiver Andre Johnson, who took the ball 48 yards for the winning score to cap a historic day for the franchise in the 43-37 decision.
Houston's 640 yards of total offense was a franchise record as were the 14 catches and 273 yards logged by Johnson. Schaub threw five touchdown passes with two interceptions and logged 527 passing yards, tied with Hall of Famer Warren Moon for the second-most in a single game in NFL history.
"I get kind of tired of defending him to the national media," said Houston running back Arian Foster of Schaub after the game. "I feel like he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He throws one of the best balls in the game and he's week in and week out consistent. We like to run the ball here in Houston, a lot, but every time we ask him to pass, he does what he did today."
The Texans have won all four of their home games this season and lead the Indianapolis Colts by three games for first place in the AFC South.
Detroit's playoff chances took another big hit this past weekend thanks to a 24-20 loss to Green Bay that dropped the Lions two games under .500.
Stafford continued his struggles following an excellent 2011 campaign as he was picked off twice and lost a fumble. Detroit dropped its second game in a row and is 0-4 against the division.
Calvin Johnson continued his excellent campaign, hauling in five passes for 143 yards with a touchdown, and isn't ready to give up on the season.
"The season is not over, man. We've got six games left," noted the wideout.
While playing on Thanksgiving is certainly an event, it does leave both teams with a short week, just another obstacle to overcome.
"Put a loss behind you and move on," Stafford said of what the team will do to prepare. "(We've) got a good Houston team coming in and obviously a team we're unfamiliar with so we have to get ready."
Though the quick turnaround will be a grind, the clubs will enjoy an extra few days off following the battle.
"That's what makes it really tough," said Houston head coach Gary Kubiak. "We played five quarters of football and had 92 plays of offense. That makes it very difficult on the guys. There is a carrot at the end of the week. As hard as it is, you get a chance to give guys a break after the game and stuff. You've got a big period between then and your next game. I think that kind of gets them excited, but I've got to be smart with them and get them to Thursday right now."
Houston actually has a chance to clinch a playoff spot this week with a lot of help, starting with a win. The Texans punch their second straight ticket to the postseason with losses by Tennessee, Miami, the New York Jets, Cincinnati as well as San Diego or Pittsburgh.