The Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers will face off in the NFL preseason opener for each team Thursday night.
Looking For More
Houston is coming off a solid 11-5 season where it was able to win its division and make the playoffs. This year, the Jaguars have retooled their offense, the Titans are a team you cannot overlook, and the Colts will look to build on their 10-6 season from last year. Overall, the AFC South should be fun to watch all season long.
Something the Texans will be looking for during the preseason is someone who can step up on their defense alongside JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney is currently looking for more money from the Texans and to say negotiations are not going great is an understatement. There have been rumors of Houston possibly trading the pass rusher to avoid paying the big contract, although nothing has been concrete. They will most likely be looking for other players who can step up and be playmakers on that side of the ball.
On offense, the Texans’ main focus will be the offensive line. They gave up more sacks than any team in 2018, 3.8 per game. To try to fix up their line and help their young star QB Deshaun Watson survive, Houston spent their first-round draft pick on Tytus Howard, an offensive tackle out of Alabama State. Look for the Texans to spend this preseason game-planning ways to keep the QB on his feet as much as possible.
The Packers will have a new head coach on the sideline in this game for the first time in Aaron Rodgers’ career. While Rodgers most likely will not see playing time in this game, it will be interesting to see how first-year head coach Matt LeFleur runs the Packers offense. LeFleur will be at his third team in three seasons after being the Titans’ offensive coordinator in 2018 and the Rams’ offensive coordinator in 2017.
While this is the preseason, and we will most likely see a vanilla version of the offense LeFleur plans to run, it will still be interesting to see how he implements the run game in Green Bay, something they have been missing there for a while now.
On the other side of the ball, the Packers will be dealing with some big changes as well. Their captain and veteran leader for 10 years, Clay Matthews, will no longer be on the roster after being picked up by the Los Angeles Rams in the offseason. Despite his departure, they do have talent on defense, specifically young guys who should get plenty of work in the preseason. The positions to watch in this game are linebacker, to see how they fill the gap Matthews left behind, and corner, where they have a lot of young players with talent. The Packers would love to see a few of these guys separate themselves from the rest and prove something over these next four games.
What To Expect
In terms of who is going to win this game, I think the Texans will most likely stick to a very vanilla gameplan and make sure everyone is on the right page and protect their stars. With a new coach in Green Bay, I think they will be more likely to want to make an impression and push the envelope, which I think will lead to a Packers win in their preseason opener.