NFL PREVIEWS |

Preview: Packers at Texans


THE STORY: Even while maintaining their spotless record to open the season, the Houston Texans suffered a significant loss Monday night. They'll look to keep rolling without one of their top defenders as they welcome the high-octane Green Bay Packers to town Sunday evening. Houston will be without the services of Brian Cushing for the remainder of the season after the All-Pro linebacker suffered a torn knee ligament in Monday's narrow victory over the New York Jets.

Cushing's absence will provide the Texans with their stiffest test of the season, as they face a Packers team off to a miserable start but still capable of burning opposing defenses. Green Bay squandered an 18-point lead over the weekend, dropping a 30-27 decision to the host Indianapolis Colts. Aaron Rodgers appears to be rounding into form - having thrown seven touchdowns over his last two games - but the running game is now in limbo following a serious foot injury to primary back Cedric Benson.

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Texans -3.5, O/U 47.5.

ABOUT THE PACKERS (2-3): Benson was placed on IR but given the "designated to return" tag, meaning he is eligible to come back in Week 14. Head coach Mike McCarthy believes Benson will return at some point during the season, but in the meantime the Packers will go with the "hot hand." Alex Green is expected to get the bulk of the carries against the Texans, with James Starks also seeing action. Wide receiver Greg Jennings did not practice Wednesday and is expected to miss this week's game with a groin ailment.

ABOUT THE TEXANS (5-0): Cushing doesn't believe his season-ending injury has derailed the Texans' title aspirations. "WE are STILL winning THIS year's Super Bowl," he posted on his Facebook page. Nevertheless, his absence will put more pressure on a defense led by standout defensive lineman J.J. Watt, who leads the NFL with a whopping 8.5 sacks through the first five games of the season. He has a favorable matchup this week against a Packers offensive line that has surrendered 21 sacks so far, second-most in the NFL.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Texans have been far more effective at protecting the quarterback than Green Bay, allowing a league-low three sacks to date.

2. Houston WR Andre Johnson caught eight passes for 119 yards and a score in Week 1, but has just nine total receptions in four games since.

3. Packers TE Jermichael Finley (shoulder) isn't expected to practice until at least Friday - if at all - and will likely be a game-time decision.

PREDICTION: Texans 27, Packers 20.

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Stadium

NRG Stadium
Houston, Texas, USA.
Capacity: 71,500

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Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans

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Last Injuries

Houston Texans

  • Peter Kalambayi

    Hamstring
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Kalambayi was held out of the previous game due to a hamstring injury, and it is uncertain if he will take the field Sunday versus the Steelers.

  • Duke Johnson

    Ankle
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Johnson missed the last game with a sprained ankle, and it is unclear if he will be ready for Sunday's battle against the Steelers.

  • Will Fuller V

    Hamstring
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Fuller V departed the previous game with a right hamstring injury, and it has yet to be established if he will be available against the Steelers on Sunday.

  • Cullen Gillaspia

    Concussion
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Gillaspia left the last game due to a concussion, and it is undetermined if he will be cleared in time for Sunday's clash versus the Steelers.

  • Jonathan Greenard

    Ankle
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Greenard has sat out the past two games due to an ankle injury, and it is unknown if he will suit up against the Steelers on Sunday.

  • Cullen Gillaspia

    Hamstring
    Prob Sun | probable

    Gillaspia missed the previous game with a hamstring injury, but it is not expected to impede his status for Sunday's contest against the Ravens.

  • Tytus Howard

    Ankle
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Howard is hampered by an ankle injury, and it is unclear if he will participate Sunday versus the Ravens.

  • J.J. Watt

    Hip
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Watt has a hip injury, and it is unclear if he will be available against the Ravens on Sunday.

Green Bay Packers

  • Lane Taylor

    Knee
    I-R | I-R

    Taylor has been placed on the injured reserve list due to a right knee injury.

  • Equanimeous St. Brown

    Knee
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    St. Brown has ended up on the injured reserve list with knee injury, and it is unknown when he will return to the fold.

  • Tyler Ervin

    Concussion
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Ervin was lifted from the last game due to a concussion, and it is uncertain if he will pass protocol in time for Sunday's battle versus the Saints.

  • Randy Ramsey

    Groin
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Ramsey has been unavailable for the past two games due to a groin injury, and it is uncertain if he will face the Saints on Sunday.

  • Josiah Deguara

    Shin
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Deguara sat out the previous game with injuries to his shin and ankle. It is unknown if he will take the field against the Saints on Sunday.

  • Corey Linsley

    Thumb
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Linsley left the last game due to a right thumb sprain, and it has yet to be determined if he will suit up versus the Saints on Sunday.

  • Kenny Clark

    Groin
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Clark missed the last game with a groin injury, and it remains to be seen if he will line up against the Saints on Sunday.

  • Davante Adams

    Hamstring
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Adams made an early exit during the last game with a hamstring injury, and it is unknown if he will be active Sunday against the Saints.