1. EDGE James Houston
Turns out all Houston needed was a chance. After toiling on the practice squad for the first 11 games this season, the rookie sixth-round edge rusher was activated for Week 12 and promptly had two sacks of Bills quarterback Josh Allen on Thanksgiving.
Houston followed that with a sack in three more straight games, making the most of somewhat limited snaps.
On Sunday against the Bears, Houston reached a new level. He had not one, not two, but three sacks of Justin Fields. All three were impressive on their own, with a nod to the last as the most impressive, but as a group they are something.
And No. 3, which prompted this reaction from FOX color analyst Jonathan Vilma.
"I had no idea he had that type of explosion. Just watch how fast he closes in on Justin Fields. He’s dropping back and then as soon as Fields breaks contain, he’s shot out of a cannon. That is special, man.”"
Houston also played a career-high 33 snaps against Chicago, good for a 65 percent snap share. That’s a sign of the growth he has shown, and dropping into coverage on the play that ended with his third sack of the day was a sign the coaching staff trusts him to do more than just pin his ears back and rush the passer.
The ranking order of this week’s Lions’ game balls almost feels unimportant, given all the players who played well in an all-around dominant effort by the team. But Houston gets the No. 1 spot, if only because of Sunday being such a huge moment in his young career.