(WFRV) – The Green Bay Packers are at a key point in the second quarter of their 2020 NFL schedule.
After a perfect 4-0 start in the first quarter, the Packers stumbled out of their bye week with a 38-10 drubbing in Tampa Bay, ending Green Bay’s nine-game winning streak in the regular season.
Not exactly the way Matt LaFleur and his team wanted to start the toughest part of their season: at Tampa, at Houston, host Minnesota on Nov. 1, and four days later take on the 49ers in San Francisco.
The loss to the Buccaneers and Tom Brady has been flushed away and the focus is on a dangerous 1-5 Texans team playing for their season at home Sunday.
Houston is led on offense by multi-threat quarterback Deshaun Watson and Wisconsin native J.J. Watt on defense. Watson is on a roll, producing three straight-300 yard passing games, including a four-touchdown, 335-yard performance in a 42-36 overtime loss to undefeated Tennessee last Sunday.
The Texans defense has been porous at times, allowing an average of 177 rushing yards per game and gave up a season-high 263 on the ground to the Titans, along with an average of 30 points per game. Watson has solid targets in Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller, and former Packer Randall Cobb, and tight end Darren Fells is a threat in the red zone.
Watt is one sack short of hitting the 100 mark for his career, and he said the Texans’ defensive woes are correctable.
“I don’t think it’s anything groundbreaking besides playing in our gaps and tackling,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any magic potion we need to sprinkle on it. We need to do our jobs and we need to tackle.”
Rodgers and the offense will be looking to rebound from a dreadful performance for three quarters after a fast 10-0 start after one quarter in Tampa but may be without one of their most potent weapons.
Aaron Jones, who held to a season-low 15 yards last week, has a calf injury and may be a game-time decision. Rodgers’ main protector, David Bakhtiari, has not practiced this week. The veteran left tackle is listed as doubtful on Green Bay’s injury report Friday afternoon with a chest injury incurred in Tampa Bay.
Also listed as doubtful with quad injuries are key members of the Packers’ secondary: cornerback Kevin King and safety Darnell Savage. Center Cory Linsley (back), tight end Robert Tonyan (ankle), and linebacker Preston Smith (shoulder) are listed as questionable and were limited in practice.
Both Green Bay and Houston have struggled to force turnovers this season, with three and four takeaways respectively. The Packers have just two turnovers, both of which occurred against a stellar Tampa Bay defense on Rodgers’ interceptions.
This game may be a high-scoring affair, and the team that wins the turnover battle may well emerge the victor.
Week 7 NFL Picks
Green Bay rebounds in Houston after reality check in Tampa Bay. The Aarons—Rodgers and Jones—get back on track against a defense that yields an average of 30 points per game and 177 yards rushing. Containing Deshaun Watson will be a huge challenge for a defense gashed in Tampa Bay.
Packers 33, Texans 23