The Week 6 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans will be a showdown of two teams who are going in opposite directions.
After an incredible 15-1 season a year ago, the Packers have gotten off to a disappointing 2-3 start. Green Bay's offense doesn't look as explosive as it did last season, and the Packers are looking like a mediocre team in 2012.
On the other hand, the Texans are a perfect 5-0 and despite a tough challenge from the New York Jets last week, they haven't had a difficult time winning games this season and are easily one of the best teams in the NFL.
So let's break it down.
Where: Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas
When: Sunday, October 14 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Watch: NBC (Check local listings)
Spread: Packers +3 (Bovada)
The Packers offense hasn't lived up to expectations this season, and the fact that Green Bay is playing Houston's elite defense won't help in the least.
Green Bay hasn't been able to get its rushing attack going this year, and that will make them one-dimensional in this game. Houston can focus on trying to spot the pass, making it a bit easier to defend their opponents.
The Texans will be able to move the ball on the ground, setting up their passing attack and that should lead to ample success.
No matter how it goes, the Packers will not cover this spread and the Texans will the game.
Over/Under: 48 (Bovada)
This game doesn't figure to be high-scoring enough to reach more than 48 points. On top of the Texans' great defense, the Packers are much improved on that side of the ball as well.
Green Bay has yet to score more than 28 points in a game this season, and that won't change against Houston. Also, the Packers' best receiver, Greg Jennings, won't be playing this Sunday, and that's one less option quarterback Aaron Rodgers has to go to.
Both teams have the ability to shut the other down, leaving it the safest bet to take the under on this one.
Key Injuries (via ESPN)
WR Greg Jennings (Out, groin)
TE Jermichael Finley (Questionable, shoulder)
DT B.J. Raji (Questionable, ankle)
WR Andre Johnson (Probable, groin)
RB Arian Foster (Probable, knee)
LB Brian Cushing (Out for season)
Packers: Jordy Nelson
With Jennings out and Finley likely not at 100 percent, Nelson will be a major target for Rodgers this week.
Nelson has yet to have a breakout game this season, but that shouldn't be a cause for concern as the Packers' wide receiver is due.
Nelson had a ton of success last season after catching 68 passes for 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns. Clearly Nelson has the ability to be a big time receiver and with the Packers receiving corps looking thin in Week 6, this should be the week Nelson has a huge game.
Texans: Andre Johnson
Also falling into the category of due, Johnson could have a huge game this week as well.
After a big game in Week 1 that saw the star receiver catch eight passes for 119 yards and a score, Johnson has been extremely quiet since then, but is far too talented to stay that way.
The Packers are ranked No. 17 against the pass this season, so there should be plenty of room for quarterback Matt Schaub to throw the ball to his top target.
No matter what his numbers look like until this point, there's no doubt the Texans will continue to try and make Johnson a larger part of their offense moving forward and that could start this week.
Packers Keys to Victory: Throw the Ball
Green Bay doesn't have a good enough rushing attack to get going by itself, so the passing attack must be a big part of this team's offense this week.
Rodgers must air it out in order to force the Texans to cheat on the pass, and that should open it up for the Packers ground and pound to go to work on the Texans, who are ranked No. 9 against the run.
As was the case last season, the Packers' bread and butter is their passing game, but moving the ball through the air early will help this team open things up for the run, thus attempting to exploit the bigger weakness in the Texans' defense.
Texans Keys to Victory: Pound the Rock
This is nothing new for Houston.
The Texans rushing attack is one of the best in the NFL when both Foster and Tate are running the ball. Both backs can dominate a game, and although he's a backup, Tate could be a solid starter on a lesser team.
Once the Texans get their rushing attack established, they can start allowing Schaub to move the ball through the air, and that will help keep the Packers defense honest.
Prediction: Texans 27, Packers 20
Without two key receivers, Rodgers will have a tough time moving the ball through the air, further making it difficult to get the run game going. That one-dimensional style of play will help an elite defense like the Texans to force turnovers.
Meanwhile, Houston will run the ball at will as always, and that will give Schaub and Johnson plenty of space to pick up big yardage through the air.
It will be closer than expected, but the Texans will leave this Week 6 matchup with their perfect record intact.
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