The Green Bay Packers (2-3) travel to face the Houston Texans (5-0) at Reliant Stadium on Sunday night.
Some people are calling the game a must-win for the Packers. We don’t exactly see it as that… unless the Packers have any designs on winning the NFC North. If the Packers lose, there’s not a very good chance they’ll be catching the Bears or Vikings (who are both 4-1 this season) and they’d probably have to finish 8-2 to have a good shot at the playoffs.
Could the Packers be out of the playoff picture by the end of October? They could, but the reason we say this game isn’t necessarily a must-win is because the schedule gets a lot easier after this week.
Who’s not going to play?
Greg Jennings, as if that’s a surprise. Jermichael Finley and his hands of stone and B.J. Raji and his little girl ankles are both questionable. While we’d be happy to go without Finley, backup D.J. Williams is also questionable. The Texans are pretty much totally healthy. Safety Quintin Demps is the only player that’s been ruled out. Of course, linebacker Brian Cushing tore his ACL last week and is gone for the season, which doesn’t show up on the injury report.
Who should I bet on?
Look, the Packers are a nightmare to bet on this season. Save your money. Houston is only a 3.5-point favorite at home. You get three points just for playing at home, so, for some reason, oddsmakers think these teams are pretty evenly matched. We’re gonna take a flyer and take the Packers, but that’s just based on a gut feeling. They seem to perform better when their backs are against the wall and their backs are damn well against the wall right now.
What to Watch For
These aren’t your father’s Green Bay Packers. Guys have been pointing fingers, complaining and more or less denying they’ve played any role in the team’s terrible start all week. No one is accountable, other than Aaron Rodgers. That’s right, one of the few guys who’s actually playing well was the only guy to say he’s not playing well enough this week. Apparently, everyone else is playing at a Pro Bowl level, which make the losses all the more inexplicable. If the Packers lose again this week, all the discord and “wasn’t me” attitude is going to be magnified even more and the locker room is going to implode. At that point, the season is essentially over.
Jermichael Finley’s homecoming
Yeah, we said we really don’t care if that jerk plays, but we should point this out. If Finley doesn’t have a big game on Sunday, he isn’t going to have a big game all season. Finley grew up near Houston. He went to Texas. He’s been pissing and moaning about his lack of chemistry with Rodgers and not getting enough balls this week. If Rodgers still cares to throw this idiot the ball, all this extra motivation should help him put up some huge numbers.
What Cushing’s absence means
You think of the Texans as an offensive juggernaut — Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, etc. They actually win by playing defense. They’re the third-ranked unit in the NFL. They’re third against the pass and ninth against the run. They’ve also had Cushing up until this point. The linebacker is one of the Texans’ best defenders. Will his absence make that big of a difference? Maybe if the Packers actually try to run the ball.
Wisconsin’s own J.J. Watt
He’s from Pewaukee. He went to Wisconsin. He’s also one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL in only his second season. Watt has 7.5 sacks and 26 tackles on the season. His sack total puts him a half sack behind Clay Matthews for the league lead. Clearly, Watt is going to dominate whichever crappy Packers offensive lineman he lines up across from. So, if the Texans are kicking the Packers ass all over the field, at least you can point out Watt is from Wisconsin while he’s tossing Bryan Bulaga aside line a rag doll.