The last time the Texans played the Green Bay Packers in 2016, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had something to prove. The Packers had been in a freefall, it seemed, and he told everyone to R-E-L-A-X. Then, he carried the Packers to a 21-13 win over the Texans in the snow on a damaged hamstring on the way to six in a row and the NFC North championship.
The last time the Texans played the Green Bay Packers at NRG Stadium in 2012, Rodgers lit up one of the best defenses in the league with one of his greatest performances of all-time. On NBC's Sunday Night Football, the future Hall of Famer completed 24 of 37 passes for 338 yards and SIX touchdowns (no INT). Furthermore, this Rodgers-led win was the first loss for the Texans in 2012.
The only year that Rodgers wasn't completely a thorn in the Texans' side was in 2008 as the Texans traveled to Green Bay and earned one of the greatest wins in Houston Texans history. Rodgers. He still threw for 295 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but the Texans edged out a 24-21 win in the cold of Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Fast forward, 12 years and #12 is still at it, but he's coming off one of the lousiest games of his career. Tampa Bay's #1 ranked defense held Rodgers to just 160 passing yards and two interceptions, including a pick six that turned the tide of the Bucs 38-10 win. It's the worst time ever to face Rodgers, but the schedule makers aren't about to change things now, are they? So, let's get to Know The Texans Week Seven Foe - the Green Bay Packers
2020 Schedule (4-1)
W, @ Minnesota Vikings 43-34
W, Detroit Lions 42-21
W, New Orleans Saints 37-30
W, Atlanta Falcons 30-16
L, @Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-10
Packers OFFENSE (in 2020 regular season)
Rushing Yards Per game - 139.4 ypg (7th in the NFL)
Passing Yards Per game - 257.2 ypg (14th)
Total offense per game - 396.6 ypg (7th)
Turnovers lost - 2 (2 INT, 0 Fumbles lost)
Expected Packers starting offense for Week Seven
QB - Aaron Rodgers
RB - Aaron Jones
WR - Davante Adams
WR - Marquez Valdes-Scantling
TE - ROBERT TONYAN
TE - Marcedes Lewis
LT - David Bakhtiari
LG - Elgton Jenkins
C - Corey Linsley
RG - Lewis Patrick
LT - Billy Turner
Other Key Offensive pieces
TE - Jace Sternberger
RB - Jamaal Williams
RB - **A.J. Dillon
WR - Equanimeous St. Brown
WR - Darrius Shepherd
** - Rookie
ALL CAPS - New starter in 2020
Keys to winning v. the Packers Offense
- Comfort is a killer - The last thing that the Texans defense can do against Aaron Rodgers is to allow him to get comfortable in the pocket. The Buccaneers gave a bit of a road map to slowing Rodgers, blitzing him a significant amount in their 38-10 win. After falling behind 10-0, the Buccaneers defense changed course and changed the game, sending a multitude of pressures that disrupted Rodgers all day long.
- Double Davante - The Packers number one receiver hasn't played much football lately, returning to the starting lineup for the first time in weeks in that game against Tampa Bay. Regardless, I don't want Davante Adams to beat me; I'm going to force someone else to beat me. Adams is such a good route runner that he can absolutely lose 1-on-1 defenders, so it's going to take two defenders to truly slow him down. When this offense bogs down, Rodgers looks for Adams to be his outlet in the passing game. If that outlet is taken away, Rodgers won't go quietly in the night, but it may disrupt him enough to have a tad bit of defensive success.
- Violently eliminate running lanes - Watching the Titans have such a high level of rushing success was painful for Texans everywhere. The tackling was atrocious, but the inability at the second level to be in the right gap or read plays properly was a huge issue. When the Texans slowed down Derrick Henry and the zone game, they violently eliminated running lanes at the first and second level. Aaron Jones is certainly not Derrick Henry, but he's just as dangerous because of his quickness and vision in the zone game.
- Screen game - The Packers, similar to the Titans, are quick to run the screen game, as much as they are throwing the ball deep down the field. As such, this is where Jones is a monster. Rodgers' ball handling is so good that he can sell some other play concept and get Jones in WIDE open spaces after the catch of the screen pass. The only thing the Texans can do is play under control, such that it can explosively break on the football when they do finally realize it's a screen pass.
- Tackle - That's all. Tackle. Better. WAY better.
Packers DEFENSE (in 2020 regular season)
Rushing Yards Allowed Per game - 116.2 ypg (15th in the NFL)
Passing Yards Allowed Per game - 231.2 ypg (14th)
Total offense Allowed per game - 347.4 ypg (14th)
Turnovers generated - 3 (2 INT, 1 Fumble recovery - Packers are +1 in TO margin)
Expected Packers starting defense for Week Seven
OLB - Za'Darius Smith
DE - Dean Lowry
NT - Kenny Clark
DE - Kingsley Keke
OLB - Preston Smith
ILB - **KRYS BARNES
CB - Jaire Alexander
CB - Chandon Sullivan
S - Adrian Amos
S - Darnell Savage
CB - Kevin King (injured last week, could be back for Texans matchup)
Other Key Defensive pieces
ILB - Oren Burks
ILB - Ty Summers
CB - Josh Jackson
** - Rookie
ALL CAPS - New starter in 2020
Keys to winning v. the Packers Defense
- Big Z is a Big Problem - The Texans got a little taste of outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith last summer in joint practices between the two teams. The thing that Smith didn't do in training camp that he does a bit more during the season is rush from a number of different angles, edges and alignments.There's no one person more dangerous in a green and gold jersey as Smith who can win up and down the line of scrimmage.
- KENNY! - Packers interior disruptor Kenny Clark returned last week against the Buccaneers and he can single handedly disrupt the Texans' interior run game. Titans Jeffery Simmons was that guy last week and Clark is bigger and stronger, yet not as explosive. The Texans offensive front must, at a minimum, control or flat out stymie big No. 97
- Use some up-tempo - the Packers were a bit slow getting into formation against the Buccaneers and it cost them in a big way. The Texans always seem to play better at a faster pace, so it could be a win-win situation, honestly.
- Let them decide, then destroy - Here's what I mean...the Packers will game plan throughout this week to take away one of the Texans explosive receiving threats. Let them decide which receiver they want to double/eliminate, then exploit the other side 1-on-1. Jaire Alexander will more than likely be 1-on-1 on Will Fuller V or Brandin Cooks, so it's not going to be easy. However, I'll take either of those two receivers in a matchup with any cover man in a Packers jersey.
- Use Duke - Texans running back Duke Johnson is now back healthy and could be an even bigger factor in this offense. Duke is the one Texans running back that could give a rookie inside linebacker Krys Barnes more issues out on pass routes, out in space.