The Houston Texans (6-5) are looking to end their two-game slide in Wisconsin when they take on the Green Bay Packers (5-6) on Sunday.
If Houston wants to avoid potentially falling into a three-way tie for first place in the AFC South, their defense needs to neutralize Aaron Rodgers, who carved up the Eagles last Monday, completing 30 passes for 313 yards and two scores. The good news for Houston is their secondary is ranked fifth in the NFL, only allowing opposing quarterbacks to pass for 209 yards a game.
Brock Osweiler has been a turnover machine for the Texans so far in 2016, throwing 13 interceptions in 11 games. He will need to step up his game against the Packers, as giving Rodgers more chances to score will effectively bury the Texans’ hopes of a victory. However, Green Bay’s secondary hasn’t been top quality in 2016, letting opposing quarterbacks post over a 100 passer rating, which would play a role in Green Bay dropping four games in-a-row before their win over Philadelphia.
Assuming Osweiler has another pedestrian-at-best performance, Houston’s ground game, lead by Lamar Miller, will need to pick up the slack. The Texans are ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing yards, which means Houston’s best chance of winning is to give Miller more carries to help Houston win the time-of-possession battle and keep the ball out of Rodgers’ hands for as long a possible.
Green Bay hasn’t been effective on the ground since Eddie Lacy fell victim to injury, ranking 22nd in the league in rushing yards, meaning Houston’s weakened front seven may catch a break this week as the injured Jadeveon Clowney has been ruled out for Sunday’s showdown.
Will Fuller will be returning punts for the Texans against Green Bay, and his performance on special teams could have a colossal impact in this game. Against the Titans in Week 4, Fuller returned a punt for a 67-yard score, which ultimately helped lift Houston to a victory, 27-20. Fuller also has potential to be a headache as a receiver, as Fuller caught nine pases for 211 yards and a touchdown during the first two weeks of the regular season, his first two games as a professional football player.
DeAndre Hopkins may also cause problems for Green Bay’s below-average secondary, as Hopkins is Houston’s leader in receiving yards (610) and touchdowns (three). C.J. Fiedorowicz has been Osweiler’s’ security blanket in 2016 and may be relied on often for short dink-and-dunk pasess to help Houston maintain possession and pick up first downs. The 6-foot-5, 265 pound Fiedorowicz has the ideal size to create mismatches for the Packers’ secondary.
Although Osweiler has the weapons to be successful on Sunday, Rodgers has a three-headed monster at his disposal, necessary for making Houston’s defense miserable, as Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb have all scored a combined total of 20 touchdowns this season.
This could prove to be too much for Houston to handle, as the motivated Packers are trying to claw their way back into the postseason picture. If Rodgers finds his rhythm against the Texans secondary, this game could get out of hand.
Prediction: Packers over Texans 31-20