Weather: Reliant has a roof – irrelevant.
Green Bay – WR Greg Jennings will miss another game. TE Jermichael Finley is questionable with a significant shoulder injury. NT B.J. Raji left the game Sunday after hurting his ankle and is also questionable. RB Cedric Benson was signed to establish the run in Wisconsin. Now he’s on IR.
Houston – LB Brian Cushing is out for the year. Starting safety Quintin Demps is still out with a broken arm and Rodgers may try to exploit his backup Danieal Manning. However, Manning is no rookie and can probably hold his own.
Keys to the Game: Both passing offenses are under-performing given their talent level. This could be in part due to injuries to both teams’ star wideouts: Greg Jennings and Andre Johnson. Aaron Rodgers is the reigning MVP and Matt Schaub’s quiet demeanor makes fans outside of Texas forget that he is a ProBowl signal-caller. Nevertheless, Houston is currently the 20th ranked passing team, while Green Bay is at No. 16. They should both be in the top ten.
Fun fact: Matt Schaub is averaging 7.5 yards/attempt while the reigning MVP is at 6.4 yards/attempt.
The Green Bay corners are under-valued and truly excellent. However, if completely healthy, Andre Johnson could prevail against them at least a few times. Without Raji in the lineup for Green Bay, Schaub may have the time to throw to him. Unless Clay Matthews has one of those days.
On the other side, Texans CB Jonathan Joseph has under-performed this season, so Jordy Nelson or James Jones could light him up. If (and this is an enormous “if”), the weak Packers O-line can keep Connor Barwin and J.J. Watt from making sure that Rodgers sees more of the Reliant Stadium roof than he sees of his receivers downfield.
This should be an incredible game. After losing in Indy last week in an emotional roller-coaster contest, Green Bay desperately needs to right the ship. The Houston Texans arrived in the big-boy NFL last season and want to prove their Super Bowl-contender status in prime time.
And if you haven’t had the pleasure of watching Texans D-lineman J.J. Watt take over a game, now would be a good time to tune in. Jon Gruden interviewed Watt on Monday night. He not only dwarfed Gruden, he over-flowed the chair as if he were visiting a pre-school. Yikes. At halftime, Watt had tipped six passes, three of which ended up being interceptions.
Green Bay running backs James Starks, Brandon Saine and newcomer Alex Green will try to pick up the slack after Benson’s loss. Alex Green averaged 6.1 yards per attempt in Week 5. Let’s see how well he does against Houston’s defense. Someone in Green and Gold has to step up here, because the Houston Texans have two incredibly good rushers. Arian Foster had 100 rushing yards in the first half last weekend. Unless the Packers can run the ball and protect Rodgers, this game could be over early.
The Texans have averaged almost 31 points per week in the past three weeks, while the Packers are at less than 23. You see the problem.
Straight Up: Texans
Against the Spread: Packers +5.5
(Green Bay is 9-2 in the last 11 games versus a team with a winning record.)