I had every intention of traveling up to the Frozen Tundra to watch your Houston Texans on Sunday. Lambeau Field is the NFL's preeminent cathedral, and I couldn't imagine a cooler feeling than braving the elements and watching the Texans play a potentially meaningful December game against the Pack. I was sold the second the schedule came out, weather be damned.
Then Matt Schaub got hurt, and there was talk of him missing the rest of the 2008 season. I was suddenly faced with the very real possibility that Sage Rosenfels would be under center in Green Bay. Memories of the Rosencopter, as well as the two (2) murderous turnovers after the 'Copter, were still fresh in my mind. Wouldn't it make sense to sock away the money that trip would cost? At that moment, I made an executive decision not to go to Lambeau. The idea of watching Sage throw four (4) picks while I lost feeling in my appendages was too much for me to bear. I cracked.
So what happens? Schaub gets cleared to return and is scheduled to start on Sunday. Now I feel like an idiot (moreso than usual, anyway). Instead of watching The Schaub's glorious return to the starting lineup in person in the most famous stadium in the NFL, I'll be watching it on TV and mumbling beer-breathed curses to myself. Neat. Without further ado, three (3) things sure to happen during the three (3) hours I'm beating myself up on Sunday:
1. Schaub's going to look like a guy who hasn't played in a month. Additionally, we're talking Green Bay in December, which isn't exactly Houston in December. Succeeding in that situation is tough for a healthy QB, much less a returning QB who's been plagued by bad decisions in the red zone all season. Schaub is going to make a few really nice throws (I'll say one big one to Andre Johnson and several shorter ones to Owen Daniels), but he's also going to turn the ball over twice.
2. Due to the conditions, Steve Slaton needs to have a huge game for the Texans to have a shot. The superb news in that regard? The Packers are awful against the run, giving up 141.7 yards per game on the ground. It'll be interesting to see how Slaton responds on short rest, but I'm predicting a monstrous game from the RB (say, 109 yards rushing, 31 yards receiving, and a TD) who should be getting serious consideration for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
3. Will Richard Smith continue to employ an aggressive scheme in an attempt to frustrate Aaron Rodgers? Or will we see him revert to the vanilla, we-won't-blitz-so-you-can-pick-us-apart scheme we've come to know so well and despise so much? I think we'll see more blitzing than we saw early in the season, but we won't see as much as what we saw against Cleveland. I hope you've enjoyed winning the turnover battle the last two (2) weeks, because I believe that streak comes to an abrupt end on Sunday.
PUT YOUR NAME ON IT: Any objective fan looking at this game would pick Green Bay, and they'd pick 'em large. Although I'm about as far from objective as it gets when it comes to your Houston Texans, I can't disagree with that rationale. The combination of the elements, a short week after MNF, a rusty QB, and Richard Smith will be too much to overcome. Texans 20, Packers 30.