Here’s a preview of what to watch for when the Green Bay Packers host the Houston Texans for a noon kickoff Sunday.
1. Aaron Rodgers’ hamstring could limit what the Packers do offensively.
Toward the end of Monday night’s game in Philadelphia, Mike McCarthy had the Packers' offense operating exclusively out of the shotgun and the pistol formation while attempting to salt the game away. The reason was crystal clear.
McCarthy, much like he did during the playoffs in 2014, was limiting the movement required by his injured quarterback.
While Rodgers declared after the game that he should be good to go Sunday against the Texans, his hamstring injury could very well affect the offensive gameplan and probably will necessitate that he miss practice time this week.
While that will give valuable reps to backup quarterback Brett Hundley, Rodgers missing time is not ideal as the Packers try to claw their way back into playoff contention.
2. The Packers cannot suffer another Lambeau letdown.
Four weeks ago, the Packers laid an emotional egg during a game at Lambeau Field against the Colts. Several players remarked on the lack of energy on the Packers' sideline during the game, and the crowd never really seemed to get into the game.
Simply put, the Packers can not afford another home-game letdown.
Whether it was the opening kickoff being taken back for a touchdown, the Gold Package crowd not providing the energy players have grown accustomed to or players simply overlooking the Colts, the Packers need to ensure they come out ready to take the fight to the Texans on Sunday afternoon.
Mike McCarthy obviously shouldn’t need to remind his guys what’s at stake, but he also needs to ensure that his team gets up from the opening kickoff. The Lambeau mystique has all but disappeared over the last two years. A December playoff push will only be possible if the Packers take care of business at home.
3. The Packers' defense needs to create turnovers against an error-prone Texans offense.
During Dom Capers’ tenure as defensive coordinator, the Packers have excelled at creating turnovers. For the most part, that trait has disappeared this season.
Yes, Ha Ha Clinton Dix pulled in his third interception of the season in Philadelphia, but that was practically gift-wrapped for him on an errant throw from a rookie quarterback trying to make a play downfield.
The Packers are facing a Texans team that committed four turnovers Sunday in its loss to the Chargers and quarterback Brock Osweiler has proven to be a liability when it comes to taking care of the football. Capers' crew needs to take advantage of an error-prone squad and start getting the Packers’ turnover differential heading in the right direction.