By Bill Tewes, Mark Prott, & Jim Boyce
The Packers are finally back home this week to take on a Texans team that has struggled as of late. Like last week the Pack will need to put together a winning performance to keep their playoff dreams alive.
PACKERS 26 TEXANS 17
Facing an uncommon opponent on a short week can present some challenges, but overall I think Green Bay matches up well against the Texans in many of the same areas they matched up well against the Eagles. QB Brock Osweiler has been one of the worst starters in the NFL this season, which means that even a stud WR like DeAndre Hopkins may have trouble exploiting the Packers secondary. It would certainly be disappointing if the Packers allowed Osweiler to have a big day. RB Lamar Miller has been iffy to play this week, if he is unable to go it would be a big blow for Houston. If he does play he will present some challenges to the Packers front seven. Overall Houston is not a great offensive team.
The Texans are a good defensive team however, even without J.J. Watt. The Packers will need a big day from the offensive line to keep a possibly limited Aaron Rodgers clean. I could see the Packers struggling at times on offense. Perhaps we will see more Christine Michael this week, James Starks has not been able to get much going on the ground. This is a game the Packers should win as the Texans have struggled immensely on the road against good teams. Once again the season hinges on the team performing up to their potential.
PACKERS 31 TEXANS 17
It was difficult to take the bold comments seriously after multiple dismal performances in a row but Aaron Rodgers’ remarks about being able to run the table may not be so silly after all. The game against the Eagles was probably the most complete performance the Packers have put together in the 2016 season. It almost always seems dangerous to make predictions about this team, but I believe they regained confidence and I’m forecasting a similar comfortable outcome to last week. The Texans have above average skill players on offense, but Brock Osweiler is playing with little confidence and so the Packers’ defense should have a great opportunity to increase their confidence and get right.
The Texans have an above average defense but will be without OLB Jadeveon Clowney, which is a major blow to their chances. Aaron Rodgers will be playing with a hamstring injury so we should see a continuation of the short, quick passing game that was was so successful against the Eagles. The Texans are a blitzing defense and I expect to see plenty against a vulnerable Rodgers without his legs in top condition. This makes it so key that Rodgers gets the ball out quick. The MVP version of Aaron Rodgers made teams pay dearly when they blitzed him in the past. We saw glimpses of that last week and vintage pinpoint throws that seemed to be missing all season. Maybe Rodgers is getting on a hot stretch again, which would back up his bold comments.
PACKERS 35 TEXANS 14
The Green Bay Packers are going to have to get newly signed running back Christine Michael and hybrid receiver/running back Ty Montgomery more involved, if they want to strike solid offensive balance and make a playoff run. The Packers were able to decimate Philadelphia’s secondary last week, but against a Houston Texans secondary that is top five in the league, the Packers will need an effective run game to be able work off the play action. McCarthy and company are going to have to find ways to exploit Houston’s secondary and a consistent run game is going to be crucial to doing just that.
If Clay Matthews is forced to miss yet another game, I imagine Texans HC Bill O’Brien will look to exploit the middle of the field, utilizing tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz who is having an exceptional year so far. Exceptional, considering Brock Osweiler is the least efficient QB in all of the NFL. The Packers are hurting everywhere on defense, but the linebacking crew has been hit the hardest recently. Blake Martinez, Jake Ryan and Matthews are all questionable and it would be a huge blow to the Packers’ chances to win this game if they all sit.
With that being said, I still think Aaron Rodgers is going to, yet again, find a way to torch this Texans defense. With Davante Adams playing incredible football and Jordy Nelson being a solid compliment (as well as still drawing more attention), Rodgers will have plenty of options to air it out and hopefully they can get Jared Cook more involved again as he has shown he is capable of being a weapon for this team.