Green Bay Packers(2-3SU,1-4ATS) vs.Houston Texans(5-0SU,4-1ATS)
Date/Time:Sunday, October 14/8:20pm ET
byEvergreen,Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread:GB +5/HOU -5
It has been a roller coaster for the Green Bay Packers so far in 2012 and their toughest test now stands in front of them as they head south to take on the Houston Texans on Sunday Night Football.This game looked like a potential Superbowl preview when the schedule was released but Green Bay has struggled to just a 2-3 mark and really needs to get their season back on track against what looks like the most complete team in the NFL through six weeks.The Packers surely do not want to put themselves in a deeper hole than they already are but a win will be a tall order for Green Bay who is winless on the road this year against the Texans who are perfect so far at Reliant Stadium.
Green Bay enters the game as a five point underdog and while Im probably missing some outlier game, I cant immediately recall the last time they were an underdog in any game since their Super Bowl win.Houston is the five point favorite and both the Vegas and online sportsbooks and the over/under total for the game is at 47.
The Packers are stinging after giving up an 18-point halftime lead and eventually losing to the Colts by a 30-27 margin and have been bitten by the injury bug to boot.Cedric Benson, who had solidified some production in the run game, is out for several weeks with a foot issue and the offense has other problems with Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley and James Starks all listed as questionable for Sunday.The Packer defense has been dealt a blow with B.J. Raji potentially out this weekend as well and that side of the ball is scrambling to find a way to slow the opposing passing game after giving up 808 yards and 5 touchdowns to Drew Brees and Andrew Luck.Green Bay has not found a way to take away the number one option in either of those weeks with Marques Colston and Reggie Wayne burning them throughout and now face another premier wideout in Andre Johnson.
Houston has authored a perfect start to the season but will have to play a bit better than they did on Monday Night against the Jets to topple a still potent Packer offense.The Texans did have a significant injury during the Jets game as Brian Cushing looks to be out for the year with and ACL tear but the injury sheet is pretty clean past that.The Houston offense has been solid and productive with a healthy Matt Schaub under center again and they look to have too many weapons for defenses to take away.The Texans have scored nearly 30 points per game on average and add a stalwart defense led by J.J. Watt.Watt and company have limited opposing teams to less than 15 points per game so far and rank in the top ten in both passing and rushing yards allowed.As much as the Texan offense will look to take advantage of a struggling Packer defense, Houstons defensive performance will likely dominate the tone and pace of this game.
With Benson out, Alex Green or perhaps James Starks will need to keep the defense honest and off the back of Aaron Rodgers.The Green Bay offensive line has given up the second most sacks through five weeks and that has contributed to Rodgers 20+ point drop in QB rating from his MVP season.Randall Cobb has seen an expanded role and now sits second on the team in both receptions and yards and could provide the most difficult matchup problem in this game.James Jones has stepped in to the lead the team with five scores as defenses have found a way to limit Jordy Nelson with Jennings out the past few weeks. Still, the fact remains that the Packer offense is not the juggernaut thatwon nineteen consecutive games over two seasons and they are currently 1-5 against the spread in their last six overall with an 0-4 ATS mark on the road.
Houston will need a typical strong performance from Arian Foster and there is every indication that he will do so, especially if Raji is unable to go.If Foster can find success on the ground, it will slow the Clay Matthews rush and open up the play-action game that Green Bay simply has not found an answer for.Owen Daniels enters the week leading the team in catches, yards and receiving touchdowns and is on tap for another big game.Matt Schaub should find plenty of open receivers and that will be good news to a Houston team that is 3-0-1 against the spread in the last four at home and only has three ATS losses in their last seventeen games overall.
Green Bay has its back against the wall and should be feared but they have had too many stretches like they did against Indy and Seattle to think that they will simply find it against a quality team like Houston.If the defense were truly improved, you could make a strong case that Rodgers and his receivers are enough to cover any spread but the D looks to be leaking oil and now face a complete offense with big-time star power.I dont think that Green Bay can protect Rodgers all night long and it winds up hurting them as the Texans get out quick and salt away another win.Houston 31 Green Bay 21
EvergreensPick to Cover the Point Spread:I’m betting the Houston Texans minus the points. Defense is the difference here.
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