Packers vs. Texans Preview: Statistical Riddles

The definition of the word “Desperate” on thefreedictionary.com is the following:

“Undertaken out of extreme urgency or as a last resort”

Let’s break down that definition piece by piece. The word undertake means that you commit to someone or something. For example, I undertake to care for my sister now that she’s had her surgery. The next piece of deperate’s definition is “out of extreme urgency”. Notice how it’s not just regular urgency, like I have to pay this bill because the due date is coming up. It says extreme urgency, like I have to pay this bill because if I don’t, the power to my house will be shut off. The last piece of desperate’s definition is “as a last resort”. Not only is last resort a great song by Papa Roach, last resort signifies that this is the be all, end all to a certain goal or achievement. So desperate’s definition in other words is “committed out of extreme urgency and/or as a last result”. Let’s see if Packers situation currently meets any of the criteria of desperate. First all, let’s take a look at their record. The Packers stand at 2-3, two games behind both the Vikings and the Bears, and a half game ahead of the Lions in the NFC Norris (enter Chris Berman soundbyte here). The Packers still have to play Minnesota twice, Detroit twice, and at Chicago, so a loss this week could potentially put them at the bottom of the division with still having to play everybody ahead of them. Next, let’s take a look at their roster and their play. Aaron Rodgers came out this week and put a lot of the blame on himself for the Packers offense struggling this year. Granted, Rodgers hasn’t looked as sharp as he did last year, but he can’t be blamed for all of the woes on offense. Offensive line anyone?  Also, the Packers offense took a hit last week when they lost Cedric Benson to a foot injury for at least eight weeks, maybe the rest of the year. Now the rushing load is put on the shoulders of a “running back by committee” group of Alex Green, James Starks and Brandon Saine with Green getting the start against the Texans. Now let’s transition to the defense; the last two weeks they’ve let up 400+ yards to Drew Brees and the Saints, and 360+ yards to a rookie quarterback and a mediocre offense. Oh, by the way, in that game where they let up the 360+ yards to the rookie quarterback and mediocre offense, they also blew a 21-3 halftime lead and lost 30-27. Not to mention that the Packers have had trouble out closing games in their wins and their losses, resulting in their 2-3 record.

So let’s get this straight, a 2-3 team traveling on the road to play one of the two undefeated teams in the league, they just lost their starting running back for at least 8 weeks, they’ve had trouble closing out games, their defense is struggling, and if they lose this week they could potentially be 3 games down in the division and in last place. Let me think or a second. Remember, the word desperate is defined as  ”committed out of extreme urgency and/or as a last result”. Yup, I’m pretty sure that you can put the label of “desperate” on the Packers game this week against the Texans.

As you know, I don’t like to do the same types of previews during the season. I like to mix up how the previews are done. This week will be Statistical Riddles on the key points of the Texans/Packers game. And away…we go.

Question: The Pope has it but he does not use it. Your father has it but your mother uses it. Nuns do not need it. Your lady friend’s husband has it and she uses it. What is it?

Answer: A last name

Just seeing if you were paying attention with that last one. Now for real.

Question:  Who is 8th in passer rating (96.9), tied for 5th in touchdowns (10), 14th in passing yards per game (259.8), tied for 3rd in completion percentage (68.6), and second in sacks allowed (21)

Answer:   Aaron Rodgers

Up until the sacks allowed stat, you could probably make the case that the previous statistics were about Sunday night’s opposing quarterback Matt Schaub. But in fact, Aaron Rodgers has more touchdowns than Schaub (10-8), more yards per game than Shaub (259.8-232.4), and a better completion percentage (68.6-63.8) But yet, Aaron Rodgers’ team is 2-3 and Matt Schaub’s is 5-0. Aaron Rodgers is not the only reason why the Packers have they record they do. One of the big reasons both quarterbacks are where they are is the sacks statistic; Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 21 times and Matt Schaub has been sacked 3 times. 3 times. 3 times. I have to keep saying that because it’s a crazy stat. Having time to throw the ball because you’re not on your back smelling the jock strap of a fat defensive lineman or of a linebacker, what a novel concept!!!!! A lot of pressure is going to be on Aaron Rodgers this week because Cedric Benson is out with that foot injury. Alex Green, a second year player drafted from the University of Hawaii, is going to get the start at running back. The Packers cannot escape the running game even though Benson is out. The Packers don’t have the offensive line to throw the ball fifty times and keep Aaron Rodgers off the turf. Despite the statistics, I like the match-up of Aaron Rodgers against the Texans secondary this week. Yes, Houston is third in the league in passing yards allowed per game (190.2 passing yards allowed per game), however the Texans haven’t exactly played world beaters for quarterbacks in their five victories this year. The only decent quarterback they faced this year was four neck surgery in one year Peyton Manning, and he threw for 330 yards and two touchdowns against the Houston secondary. In the other four games, the Texans defense has faced Ryan Tannehill (Miami), Blaine Gabbert (Jaguars), Jake Locker (Texans), and Mark “Dirty” Sanchez (Jets). In addition, Brian Cushing will be out of the lineup for the Texans defense because of a knee injury that put him on IR for the Texans last week against the Jets. Aaron Rodgers has usually performed well against Wade Phillips coached defenses, whenever the Cowboys played the Packers when Phillips was there, Rodgers usually had really good games. Rodgers vs. the Houston Secondary is a big match-up this week, one that will swing the game in either direction.

Question:  What rushing offense is 2nd in the league in attempts (183 attempts), 6th in the league in rushing yards per game (143 yards per game), 5th in the league in rushing touchdowns (7), and has last year’s second leader rusher in the NFL (1224 yards and 10 TD’s)

Answer:   Houston

Well it certainly wasn’t going to be the Packers on that one!!! I wanted to show those statistics to state that the Houston rushing attack is the linchpin to their entire offense. Most of the passing statistics for Houston are anywhere from 12-17 in the league, so that shows that the run is what sets up the pass for the Texans on offense. Many of the big plays that Houston has had through the air this year has been off of play action passes and Matt Schaub throws it over the top to Andre Johnson or Owen Daniels for 6. I know that the Packers passing defense hasn’t been stellar the past two weeks, however, I think the way to beat the Texans is to make them one dimensional but putting 7 or 8 guys in the box to stop Arian Foster and company. Make Matt Schaub throw the ball 30-40 times and see if he can beat you. See if the offensive line of Houston can hold up when Shaub is dropping back a lot during the game. Similar to the defense, the  Houston offense has not played against a dominant pass rusher yet this year and Matt Schaub has not been tested with pressure in his face for an entire game. The Packers defensive line and linebackers ABSOLUTELY have to get after Matt Schaub during tonight’s game. Disrupt the rhythm of the rushing game and passing game, make the Texans offense feel uncomfortable and see how they react. It all starts up front for the Packers defense tonight, disrupt the run, then get after Matt Schaub. The Packers rushing defense is ranked 17th right now, so that has to improve to win at Houston. The good thing is, the Packers are tied for 1st in the league with 18 sacks on opposing quarterbacks. Stop the run, and let Clay Matthews loose on the Houston offensive line.

Prediction:

I know that momentum and the statistics don’t favor the Packers going into tonight’s game with Houston. However, I really like the match-up for the Packers. I don’t think Houston has enough talented corners to cover the Packers wide receivers and tight ends. Greg Jennings will be in the lineup for the Packers today, so I think that will make the match-up even more favorable for the Packers. With Brian Cushing out, I expect Jermichael Finley to have a big game attacking the middle of the Houston defense. I think that the Packers defense will get some pressure on Matt Schaub and make him turn the ball over a couple of times tonight. I like the Packers to go into Reliant Stadium and shock the league with a win against the Texans. This a desperation game to say the least, and I think the Packers play with a fire and desperation that we have not seen from them this year. I think the Packers D gives up some yards and points, but get Matt Schaub to turn the ball over a couple of times, and that will be the difference. Aaron Rodgers has a huge game this week, this will be his breakout game of the season.

Green Bay Packers           37

Houston Texans               27

Bold Prediction:    Aaron Rodgers throws for 350+ yards and 4 TD’s against the stingy Texans defense


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