Packers vs. Texans: Three things to watch in Week 13 showdown


The 5-6 Green Bay Packers head into this Sunday’s game against the 6-5 Houston Texans brimming with confidence after a critical 27-13 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Here’s three keys to the game.

1. The Adams Attack

The embattled Davante Adams has been proving the naysayers wrong this season, rivaling Jordy Nelson as Aaron Rodgers‘ most productive receiver. He’s put up over 100 yards three times in the past six games, including 113 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Eagles.

But is Adams really a No. 1 receiver? To prove that he is, he’ll have to start producing against top-notch cornerbacks. Adams’ three 100-yard games have come against the Bears, Titans, and Eagles, none of whom have a cornerback ranked in the top 45 by Pro Football Focus. The Bears and Eagles don’t even have a corner ranked in the top 60.

The Texans’ No. 1 corner is A.J. Bouye, who ranks third in the PFF rankings. Bouye will likely spend some time covering Nelson as well as Adams, but regardless, the Texans have the fourth-ranked pass defense in the NFL in terms of yardage. There will be few easy completions against this unit.

If Rodgers can continue to have success targeting Adams against this Texans defense, that will bode very well for the Packers passing attack this season and beyond.

2. Turnover Time

The Packers’ cornerbacks used to be consistently among the best in the league at taking the ball away from opposing quarterbacks. That hasn’t been the case this season, with the injured defense hauling in only eight interceptions so far this year.

Damarious Randall (questionable this week) has one interception this year in limited playing time, but Quinten Rollins and LaDarius Gunter have none. That’s a bit of a letdown given how optimistic the coaching staff was about these corners’ famed second-year jump.

This week, there should be at least a few opportunities to add to the total. Brock Osweiler has had a disappointing season in his first stint as a full-time starter, tossing 13 interceptions on the year already and posting a quarterback rating of just 72.2.

Green Bay Packers cornerback Quinten Rollins returns an interception for a touchdown in the first quarter against the St. Louis Rams at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

DeAndre Hopkins is one of the top receivers in the league, and Will Fuller has made his mark this season as an explosive deep threat. So there will be opportunities for big plays by both the Texans’ receivers and the Packers’ cornerbacks.

The Packers currently rank 23rd in the NFL in turnover differential at minus-5. That’s a brutal ranking in one of the most important statistics in football, especially given how historically good Mike McCarthy’s team has been in that facet. In addition to their mediocre interception numbers, the Packers have not recovered a fumble in six games.

If this team is to make the playoffs, they’re almost definitely going to have to climb into the positive side of the turnover differential. This week is the perfect opportunity to begin that turnaround.

3. Running on Empty

The Packers’ running game has been pretty much non-existent in recent weeks. They rank 23rd in the NFL this season in rushing yards with just 98 yards per game.

James Starks has looked older and a step slower than in years past this season. He continues trying to bounce runs outside, despite the fact that he lacks the explosiveness to turn the corner against most NFL defenses.

Ty Montgomery, on the other hand, has looked very good in his snaps at running back this season. The recently signed Christine Michael was productive this season for the Seahawks, and even Aaron Ripkowski has displayed an abundance of raw power with the ball in his hands.

This offense has been most effective when almost entirely abandoning the run this season. But chances are that at some point this year, the Packers will need to run the ball with at least some effectiveness.

The Texans have a middling run defense (18th in the NFL in yardage) to go along with their good pass defense (4th), so Mike McCarthy might see this as a good opportunity to begin establishing the run. If he’s smart, he’ll give Montgomery and Michael, rather than Starks, the majority of the carries this week.

Next: Packers vs. Texans: Lombardi Ave Predictions


Packers 28, Texans 20

I’m a big believer that last week was a turning point for this Packers’ season. Although they are still flawed in many ways, I think the Packers will find a way to beat this solid Texans team.

If Damarious Randall can’t play, that will open up plenty of opportunities for big plays from DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. But Brock Oswelier is a turnover-prone quarterback, and I think a key interception or two along with another great game from Aaron Rodgers will be enough to bring the Packers back to .500 on the year.