The Houston Texans (5-0) remained undefeated by beating the New York Jets 23-17 Monday night in a game that was closer than expected, although Houston was undoubtedly looking ahead to this game. The Packers, meanwhile, fell to a surprising 2-3 with a loss to an emotional Colts’ team playing for its cancer-stricken coach.
Still, this line could be a bit of an over-adjustment at Houston -3½, as the Packers could easily be 4-1 this season, and if you exclude last year’s regular season finale when the Pack sat all their regulars, they have not been underdogs since they faced Atlanta in the playoffs two years ago and won 48-21! The total on this game is 48.
1. Why Green Bay will cover the spread: Green Bay will cover the spread if it gets a big passing game from Aaron Rodgers. Cedric Benson was injured last week and basically any chance of the Packers achieving offensive balance went down with him. Remember that Rodgers won the MVP last season by posting ridiculous numbers with zero support from the running game, so do not put this past him.
A second key is the improved Green Bay pass rush putting a lot of pressure on Houston’s Matt Schaub. The Packers sacked the much more mobile Andrew Luck four times last week and they are tied for second in the NFL with 18 sacks. If they put pressure on Schaub, he lacks the escapability to make big plays, unlike Luck. These two keys are actually intertwined, as putting pressure on Schaub becomes more meaningful if Rodgers is able to pass the Packers to a lead.
2. Why Houston will cover the spread: The Texans will cover this spread if they do what they do best, which is run the football. Arian Foster went off for 152 yards on 29 carries against the Jets on Monday, and he now gets a crack at a Green Bay run defense that ranks 17th against the run at 114.2 yards per game. It is important for Houston to play with the lead, so a second key would be keeping the Green Bay receivers out of the end zone, as the Texans do not need to fear the Packers’ running game. Houston ranks fourth in the NFL in passing defense and also fourth in defensive passing average at 5.6 yards per attempt, although the Texans could get an acid test here from the most prolific passer in football over the last year and one-half.
3. Total Talk: This total seems just about right, although we give ever the slightest of leans toward the ‘over’ because we feel the Packers can put up more points vs. the Houston defense than any other team has this year and maybe will for the rest of the year too. In fact, we like the Packers to pull the upset, especially since this is a much more meaningful game for them. The Pack could be in serious trouble at 2-4, while the Texans are well on their way to another division title regardless of this result.
4. Betting Trends for the game: Rodgers is 9-5 ATS as an underdog, 10-4 ATS following a loss and 5-0 ATS as an underdog after an upset loss. Go Pack Go!
Green Bay 27 – Houston 23