Banged-Up Pack Will Have Their Hands Full in Houston.

As I sit down to write this on Friday afternoon, there is reason to believe the following Packers will miss the Texans game: David Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones, Kevin King, Darnell Savage, Robert Tonyan and Preston Smith. Already ruled out are the Tylers: Ervin and Lancaster. Doubtful are Bakhtiari, King and Savage.

For a Packers team looking to rebound from its first clunker of the year, that’s a load of talent missing for a game against a 1-5 Texans team that appears to have found its footing after jettisoning the in-over-his-head Bill O’Brien.

The recipe for this one seemed like a heavy dose of Jones, who would no doubt feast on a Houston team that is a league worst 32nd against the run. They give up 5.4 yards per rush and an astounding 6.7 yards on first down. Fortunately, it’s the Pack’s deepest position and Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon would undoubtedly fill in capably. But neither is likely to provide the explosive opportunities that Jones gives you as a runner and a receiver.

Which brings us to Bakhtiari: by all reports, his chest injury does not appear to be a long-term thing: Matt LaFleur says he’ll give him up until pre-game warmups to make the call on whether he can go. But that could also be subterfuge and he could very well be on the shelf for a while.

Ricky Wagner struggled mightily when pressed into service against the talented Bucs. Maybe with a week of practice, the coaches feel he can handle dealing with the Texans’ talented pass rushers like JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus. Maybe Billy Turner swings over to the left side and Wagner plays RT. Or maybe Elgton Jenkins slides over and the Pack inserts Lucas Patrick at LG. Playing without #69 is never ideal, and coming off a game where the line was dominated makes things a little dicey. If the Pack can run the ball like they should, it should put Rodgers in comfortable second and third down situations, meaning the defense can’t just tee off.

Even without those two studs, and even if Tonyan can’t play, the Pack should have no trouble dropping 30 points on this defense.

The problem is, the Texans should have no trouble dropping 30 on the Pack either. In the two games since firing O’Brien, Houston has looked looser and freer, dropping 30 on the Jags and 36 on a good Titans defense. They had Tennessee beat on the road last week, till Derrick Henry and Ryan Taneyhill put on a show in the closing seconds of regulation.

Deshaun Watson will be a problem: the first mobile QB the Pack has faced and one who has a group of wide receivers that Aaron Rodgers would love to sling the rock to. He’s developed a lot of chemistry in recent weeks with the much traveled Brandin Cooks. Will Fuller, when healthy, is one of the most dangerous deep threats in the game and then there’s Randall Cobb, ah, Randall Cobb. Their fourth guy, Kenny Stills, would be the Pack’s second best healthy receiver.

With King and Savage likely out, the secondary will be hard-pressed to keep the Texans from moving the ball through the air. This would be a great week for the suddenly benign Packers pass rush to re-appear. But with Watson’s scrambling ability, Krys Barnes and his fellow linebackers will be counted on to keep Watson from killing the Pack with his legs.

The Packers have won their last six games in Texas, which doesn’t mean a lot, except they seem to be comfortable playing down there. With all of the injuries, the playing field has been leveled a bit and I see an old-fashioned shootout. After his clunker in Tampa, I’m betting Rodgers gets the last laugh.

Packers 37  Texans 34

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6 Responses to Banged-Up Pack Will Have Their Hands Full in Houston.

  1. Packerlifer says:

    Was last Sunday a wake-up or an exposure? This Sunday should be a good indicator of which way this season is going to swing for the Packers. The last time Green Bay went into a bye undefeated was 2015 when they started 6-0. They came out of that bye with 3 losses in a row. They made the playoffs and even reached the Divisional round. But they lost the Division and wound up only a 10-6 Wild Card. The Packers may have lost some focus and had their momentum interrupted by the bye coming when it did. They may have underestimated Tampa watching film of their loss to Chicago 10 days earlier. Houston, though, is a better team than their record and with the injury situation the Packers are carrying into this one I’m frankly worried about another loss. The defense was a question mark even in the 4-0 start and the future of Mike Pettine as coordinator is beginning to be questioned more loudly. Z. Smith’s ankle may be hampering him more than we know but the rush and turnovers- which were good last year- have to return soon. Adams & St. Brown were early rusty and out of sync with A Rod last week but should be better with regular practice work. However, playing without Aaron Jones , Tonyan & Bakh will be a big hill to climb on offense if the Texans are on their game. Romeo Crennel, the Houston dc and interim head coach, is from the Belichick coaching tree and has “hit” the Pack before in that role. AS interim in KC in 2011 he spoiled the Packers’ path to a 16-0 regular season and gave the blueprint for arresting the record setting GB offense that season for the playoff. A Packers win in this one would be pleasing. Another upset loss not especially surprising.

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  3. Tim says:

    I think the packers will have trouble in this game. Especially on the defensive side. I hope I’m wrong, but I predict a 35-27 loss

  4. Elroy from Elroy says:

    It all comes down to Gutey, is he just like Ted Thompson,relying on finding a gem in the rough,street free agents or other team castoffs,Ron Wolf would have made a trade at this time for a defensive stud,at some point you have to take some studs in the draft like Queen,Larry is right!!

  5. larry says:

    Tim I am with You, I was worried about the Atlanta game with all the injuries, and said Tonyan would have to have a big game, But now he is hurt too. Plus there playing on the road. It will come down if we can stop the run. And they don’t like to run much. Watson is very good. I have him in Fantasy football and he is carrying my team. 23 has to shut down cooks or fuller and that will help a lot. I still see it w/o Jones we lose 38-31, if 33 plays, i think we can run on them , we win 34 -31. Go Packers

  6. lynndickeyfan says:

    I don’t think the story or plan has changed. We just aren’t very deep. We also don’t have a lot of room for error. We need a couple key defensive stops. Enough for us to establish the offense. With out that, every game is going to be a struggle. It’s another race to 40, or lets say 35. Get up. Stay up. The other team will stumble trying to keep up. That’s the plan. Packers should win. The ease or difficulty is what will show us how much bounce back they have. 35, 27 Packers.

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