GREEN BAY PACKERS (2-3)
at HOUSTON TEXANS (5-0)
Kickoff: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Houston -3, Total: 47½
Unbeaten Houston tries to run its win streak to six when it faces its toughest opponent of the season with Green Bay coming to town.
The Packers have struggled on the road of late, dropping three in a row SU and four straight ATS. They blew an 18-point lead in a 30-27 loss at Indianapolis last week. The Texans are an elite defense, but haven’t faced a quarterback nearly as good as Aaron Rodgers this season. Other than Peyton Manning, the other four opposing signal-callers are not considered elite -- Ryan Tannehill, Blaine Gabbert, Matt Hasselbeck and Mark Sanchez. Houston's offense should have an advantage though, with its top-notch running game going against a weak Packers run defense that could be without NT B.J. Raji (ankle).
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The Packers are reeling after last week’s loss to heavy underdog Colts, getting outscored 27-6 in the final two quarters. Their offense is getting close to last year’s form, but RB Cedric Benson (foot) and TE Jermichael Finley (shoulder) were both injured last week, joining WR Greg Jennings (groin). Benson is out 6-to-8 weeks, Jennings is doubtful and Finley is questionable for Sunday night. RB Alex Green expects to receive the bulk of carries in this game, but he has just 15 rushing attempts over two NFL seasons. However, he did rip off a 41-yard rush as part of a 63-yard effort against the Colts. The Packers rank 17th in the NFL in both rushing yards (114 YPG) and passing yards (230 YPG), which would be even better if they created more turnovers. Since compiling four takeaways against the Bears in Week 2, Green Bay has forced only one turnover in the past three games combined.
Houston QB Matt Schaub continues to fly under the radar, but he is having a pretty strong season, completing 64% of his passes for 1,162 yards (232 per game), 8 TD and just 2 INT. His numbers will be even more impressive once Andre Johnson (groin) gets healthy and the Texans make a more concerted effort to get him the ball. Johnson has just nine catches for 164 yards and 1 TD over the past four weeks. TE Owen Daniels has been getting some of the passes usually headed towards the heavily-covered Johnson. Daniels leads the team with 23 catches and has scored a touchdown in each of the past three weeks. Houston's running game has been inconsistent this year, but it still ranks sixth in the league with 143 YPG after gaining 169 yards (4.8 YPC) against the Jets last week. The Texans defense has allowed 20 points just once this season, and has stopped teams both in the air (190 pass YPG, 3rd in NFL) and on the ground (85 rush YPG, 9th in league). DE J.J. Watt has been the best defensive player on the planet with 26 tackles, 7½ sacks, 8 passes defended and two fumble recoveries. But not all is well with the Texans, who lost their defensive leader, LB Brian Cushing, for the season with a torn ACL suffered when he was cut-blocked by Jets OL Matt Slauson last week.