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Houston Texans

'08 Game Preview: Packers


As the Texans gear up for training camp, excitement for the 2008 season continues to build. Here is an in-depth look at each of the team's regular season opponents with some insights from SportsRadio 610's Marc Vandermeer.

Teams: Texans @ Green Bay Packers (Sunday, Dec. 7)

Game Preview: Right now, it's hard to talk about what the Packers will look like in December because the Brett Favre retirement mania has reached epic proportions. Hundreds have been rallying outside Lambeau Field to pressure general manager Ted Thompson to reinstate Favre as the starting quarterback. ESPN has been trying to intercept every text message Thompson sends or receives. Regardless of whether No. 4 returns from retirement and lines up under center or not, the Packers are going to have one of the best teams in the NFC North.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who spent three years on the sidelines learning the team's West Coast offense, will be under the microscope if named the starter. The good news for Packer fans is that Green Bay returns consistent options at wide receiver. Donald Driver finished last year with 82 receptions for 1,048 yards, wideout Greg Jennings posted 12 touchdowns and second-round draft pick Jordy Nelson (Kansas State) could be an immediate contributor. Running back Ryan Grant rushed for 956 yards in his first full NFL season and will be crucial to the offense if it transitions from Favre to Rodgers (though Grant reportedly is looking for a bigger contract).

{QUOTE}The Texans' defense could look to rattle an untested Rodgers, sending defensive end Mario Williams and linebacker Rosevelt Colvin after him while the defensive tackles plug the middle. With Favre in the lineup, Houston will have to play lights out in coverage. Rookie cornerback Antwaun Molden will need to show off his backpedal speed and Dunta Robinson will have to prove that he is back to big-hitting ways. The Texans' defense simply will have to force turnovers to gain momentum in Lambeau.

The Texans' offense, on the other hand, will have to withstand a lot of pressure. The Packers have one of the best pass-rushing tandems in the league with defensive ends Aaron Kampman (12 sacks in 2007) and Kabeer Gjaba- Biamila (9.5 sacks). The team's secondary primarily plays man-to-man defense with cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson. Quarterback Matt Schaub won't have much time to throw the ball and he'll be throwing into tight coverage.

Rookie left tackle Duane Brown will face a huge task in protecting Schaub's blind side and opening holes for the run game. Ahman Green, who notched several Pro Bowl seasons as a Packers running back, could post a career day in his old stomping grounds. But Schaub also will have to connect on third-and-longs to pick apart Green Bay's defense.

"They (Packers) get heat on the passer," Vandermeer said. "They take advantage of the emotion. The Texans are really going to respond to the X-factor of playing at Lambeau Field. You do, obviously, have some players who have been there before, but as an organization the Texans have never been there."

Key Matchups: Cornerbacks Fred Bennett, Antwaun Molden and Dunta Robinson making big plays in the secondary against Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers. Running back Ahman Green finding the run lanes against his former team.

Vandermeer's pick: "I've got to go Green Bay. If I'm going to make a pick right now, I've got to go with the Green Bay Packers. Of course, I hope the situation is reversed and the Texans come out with a win."

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