The Texans are 1-5. The Packers are 4-1 after getting swashbuckled down in the hot and humid pirate ship last wekend. These are the masthead’s predictions for Sunday’s game between Houston and Green Bay.
Like all things, what comes up must go down. I think the Texans get behind early on this one and aren’t able to recover. I can see them putting up more than 13 points, but I also see a reality where the Packers squash us. Green Bay is in a race for first in the NFC North behind the surprising Bears. The Packers are third in points scored and 13th in points against, but the last two weeks they’ve held opponents to 16 and 10 respectively. They are really banged up, especially on defense, so that is also something to consider for Sunday’s game.
L4BLITZER: Packers 37, Texans 26.
By all rights, this game should be a nice bounce-back win for Green Bay, especially after the pasting they got in Tampa Bay. Aaron Rodgers is on a mission to avenge the debacle of last year’s NFC title game and the way that Green Bay drafted his (most likely) successor like he was drafted to replace Favre back in ‘05. The 2020 Texans defense is making us long for the Frank Bush era. Even if we armed every Texans defender with small tactical nuclear weapons, I doubt they could hold Green Bay to under 30.
That is not to say that the Texans are dead men walking coming into this game. The last time that Romeo Crennel was an interim head coach was in Kansas City, and one of his wins was a victory over a then-undefeated Green Bay squad. Green Bay is projected to be without the services of their starting left tackle on Sunday, which could bode well for J.J. Watt. Deshaun Watson is starting to find the range with this core of receivers and while he has the best chemistry with Will Fuller and Darren Fells, he can spread the ball around. This potentially could be an entertaining shootout; if this game goes that way, Houston has a chance to steal one.
The interesting subplot for the game is what happens to the Texans with the impending trade deadline approaching. This is the last game for the Texans before the trade deadline (which occurs after Houston’s bye next week). Could Green Bay, especially after a defeat due to the great efforts of J.J. Watt and one of the Texans receivers, say Fuller or Stills, decide that the best way to thwart Chicago in the NFC North and take advantage of the limited window of Aaron Rodgers’ contending prime is to add to the receiving corps or their defensive line? It should at least make for interesting internet speculation over the next week.
MIKE BULLOCK: Packers 34, Texans 27.
Going into this season, we all knew how tough the Texans’ schedule was when it came to opposing quarterbacks. Patrick Mahomes, Ben Roethlisberger, Lamar Jackson and now Aaron Rodgers. That list was a scary prospect when we had hope that Bill O’Brien would actually improve the pass defense before the season began. Having Vernon Hargreaves III as a starting cornerback is the exact opposite of improvement.
Green Bay could line up, do nothing but throw the ball, and still rack up points with ease.
The Packers’ rushing attack is averaging 139.4 yards per game, while the utterly porous Texans’ rushing defense is giving away a league high 177.5 yards per game - you can find that in the dictionary under “Recipe for Disaster”. Unfortunately for Houston, the Packers are bringing fifth-ranked 2020 sack-master Za’Darius Smith with them and the Houston offensive line still hasn’t figured out how to keep Deshaun Watson clean. DW4 is currently the third-most sacked QB in the league with 19 through six games. People can blame Watson for some of those hits all, but if you put him behind the Colts, Saints, or Packers’ offensive line, that number would be dramatically lower.
In the end, this will be another exciting shootout between two amazing quarterbacks, but the Packers’ overall talent will be too much for the Texans to overcome. Rodgers has already burned Hargreaves a dozen times in his mind, and he’ll turn those dreams into reality this weekend.
MATT WESTON: Packers 41, Texans 27.
The Packers scored 43, 42, 37, and 30 points against Minnesota, Detroit, New Orleans, and Atlanta to start the season. They led the league in points scored. Then went down to Tampa and were choked out by a swamp of cigar smoke from the best defense in football. Aaron Rodgers threw back-to-back interceptions, handing over 14 points, and down by 17, Green Bay stood no chance at coming back. It was legitimate to question how good the Packers’ offense really is because of the defenses they played the first month of the season (listen to this week’s episode of Battle Red Radio for more), and still, even after this game, it will be hard to get a feel for how good the Packers really are on that side of the ball.
For now, we at least know they run up the score on bad defenses, and the Houston Texans have a terrible defense. Matt LaFleur is the leader in the Head Coach of the Year race. He’s learned things that he failed to understand previously, like how to morph his balanced offense into a big play offense that utilizes play action, pre-snap motion, and enough vertical passes with a quarterback that has returned to playing top three football again. It also helps that Rodgers has a better connection with hand-me-down wide receivers like Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Robert Tonyan, and eventually Equanimeous St. Brown. It’s a shame that Allen Lazard is out with a core injury. Davante Adams is healthy again though, and that is a match-up that Bradley Roby will give up 8 catches on. Plus, Aaron Jones toss plays, and a great outside zone game, will continue to carve up an apocalyptic Houston run defense.
The Texans could score enough points on Sunday to keep it close and make it interesting. I still think Green Bay’s pass defense is better than the numbers say they are. Their run defense isn’t good, but it’s not like Houston can, or should, ever run the ball to begin with. I hated the trade for David Johnson when it happened, and I hate it even more now. David used all of his manna on that first touchdown run in Kansas City. If Tim Kelly sticks to empty and spread sets, plays vertical, and the Texans pass protect well, they could keep up with the Packers. It’s still a game where the Packers will score at least 30, and Houston will need to overcome that without the turnover help they had last week in Tennessee.
There’s a bigger gap between Green Bay’s offense and Houston’s defense than Houston’s passing offense and Green Bay’s pass defense. That’s why the Packers will win. It will either be 41-35, fun and heartbreaking, or 41-27, mildly entertaining until it no longer isn’t, like a piece of cheap gum. Hand me a piece of Fruit Stripe.
bfMFd: Packers 52, Texans 30.
I don’t see how this defense isn’t repeatedly scorched by the Packers’ offense, which is ranked fourth by ODVOA. The Texans can’t stop the run, can’t cover, and can’t get to the QB, thus leading to their 27th DDVOA.
Speaking of Houston’s defense, it was just two years ago, in 2018, that the Texans’ defense was ranked fifth by DDVOA. Of course, that year was kinda special because we didn’t play but a couple true NFL QBs, but it still wasn’t in shambles like it is today. This is the sacrifice BOB made to make his offense mediocre.
TIM: Packers 38, Texans 28.
It seems like a foregone conclusion that Aaron Jones will feast on the Texans’ nightmarish run defense, and it’s difficult to imagine Aaron Rodgers following up his turnover-laden performance against the Buccaneers with anything resembling same against a Houston secondary that no one will confuse with the Legion of Boom. Once again, the outcome of the contest will depend on Deshaun Watson keeping pace with the opponent’s offense. He’ll do his best, but 1-6 will be the result.
CARLOS FLORES: Packers 48, Texans 21.
The Green Bay Packers are currently the third best pass defense (in terms of yardage) and have a top ten run defense by the same metric. I have little to no faith that a rushing attack will materialize out of thin air, so this game will (hopefully) fought out in the skies. Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith should be key guys to watch as Deshaun and company attempt to keep this game competitive.
Where the meat and potatoes of this public flogging lies is in the Packers’ offense. Aaron Rodgers is on fire and has historically had success against the Texans. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams should find easy sledding against our putrid run defense.
I’ll be watching the game through the slits in my fingers.
What do you think? Who do you think wins the BIG game?