They Packers are beat up just a week removed from their early bye. Luckily, they’re facing a 1-5 team that’s getting outscored by roughly a touchdown per game.
But that doesn’t make this game a gimmie by any stretch.
Here are the biggest factors we’ll be watching:
Turnovers turned the tide of the game last week. The Packers were rolling until they threw what amounted to a couple of pick 6’s within a couple plays of each other. The Texans have turned the ball over 7 times in 6 games – last week was the first time all year they didn’t turn the ball over. The Houston defense didn’t generate a turnover through the first 4 games, but have come up with 2 takeaways in each of the last 2 weeks. Aaron Rodgers, as odd as it sounds, is responsible for all of the Packers turnovers through 5 games. He’ll need to get back to his careful ways for this team to reach it’s potential.
Ground and Pound
The Texans are dead last in the league in rushing yards allowed (178 per game) and average yard per carry allowed (5.4). They’ve given up over 200 yards twice and only held their opponent under 160 one time. The run should open up the pass for the Packers this game, but they have some injuries to overcome. With Bakhtiari doubtful and Linsely questionable, the line will be leaning on depth, which is always a shaky proposition. Aaron Jones is questionable due to a calf injury that sprung up late this week. After watching the Derrick Henry pound the Texans for 212 yards and 2 touchdowns on 22 carries last week, it make be time to unleash AJ Dillon.
The Packers defense is at a crossroads. Throughout their season-starting 4 game win streak, they played solid bend but don’t break and were good enough to win. Most of the scores they gave up came in garbage time or when the team had a solid lead. Against Tampa, they started strong then folded after losing momentum when the offense turned the ball over twice in a row. This is gut check time. The Texans aren’t a good team, but they have a potent offense that has averaged 349 yards and 33 points over the last two weeks. The Packers can’t afford to drop a road game to a losing team after last week’s foul up. There are injury excuses (Savage and King are doubtful and Preston Smith and Montravius Adams are questionable), but if the defensive coaches can’t adapt their scheme around their players and do enough to win, the calls to fire Mike Pettine may graduate from click-bait and fan ranting to a real possibility.