Packers vs. Texans: three things I'll be watching for
The Green Bay Packers (2-3) are in Houston to take on the red hot Texans (5-0) in a prime-time matchup under the lights at Reliant Stadium. Mike McCarthy has never coached a game in Reliant Stadium, but the Packers are 4-0 all-time in Houston. The last time the Packers played in the most air-conditioned city in America, it was 2004. The Packers won that game 16-13, and their leading rusher was...Walter Williams. (???)
Below are three things I'll be watching for:
With Cedric Benson on the IR with a foot injury, the Packers running back situation is back to where it was at the beginning of August. Second year pro Alex Green will get the start. What I'll be watching to see is which running back gets the most touches. James Starks and Brandon Saine are also expected to be active and see the field. Starks has been a healthy inactive the past two games, but, after talking to him during the week, it didn't appear as if he were much more than 75% and is only now approaching 100%. Saine is Mr. Reliable according to McCarthy. He catches the ball well, blocks well, and can run, but is not as likely to break a long run off. The running back who sees the field the most could also be the back who blocks the best.
Pick Your Poison
What makes the Texans so dangerous is they can beat you running, passing, or with defense. Arian Foster is the league's second leading rusher. Andre Johnson is an all-pro wide receiver. Matt Schaub is healthy at quarterback. Oh - and the defense is relentless. What I'll be watching to see is what area(s) the Packers are able to stop. The Texans are a dangerous team to blitz given their ability to run, but you can't stuff the box because of their weapons in the passing game - which also includes former Badgers tight end, Owen Daniels. Their defense took a major hit with the loss of pro-bowl linebacker, Brian Cushing. In terms of their impact on the game, losing Cushing would be similar to the Packers losing Clay Matthews.
Watt-chu Gonna Do?
I have no idea how the Packers are going to stop JJ Watt on the defensive line. Watt is second to only Clay Matthews for most sacks in the NFL. He's got size, speed, a relentless motor, and the wingspan of a 747. He does it all on the field, and he plays at one speed. What I'll be watching to see is how the Packers choose to block Watt up front. Marshall Newhouse cannot take care of business on his own each and every down. That means a guard, tight end, or running back will have to chip.