The Houston Texans and the Green Bay Packers - if you take a look at both of these teams, they have a lot of similarities.
Although one team is a recent expansion franchise, they've been playing extremely well in spurts, possibly even underachieving for the talent they have on their roster.
The Green Bay Packers, one of the oldest franchises in the league, started off slow but have been hot of late.
Both teams - when they play up to their capabilities - could be playoff teams.
The Texans are a very dangerous team. I don't think you can look at last week's game for an accurate picture of them, since they just ran into a buzzsaw in a hot Peyton Manning in Indianapolis.
On defense, Houston has been very aggressive. I think one thing the Packer offense has to understand is that these guys will blitz at any time. The Texans run a traditional 3-4 defense like their coach Dom Capers has been known for over the course of his career.
They like to blitz four men from the weak side. They like to play a lot of cover two in the red zone. I think that will leave the middle of the field wide open for Bubba Franks.
One thing that I think the Packers will have success doing against the Texans is to get into three-wide receiver sets on third down, and also on first and second down as well. I think Javon Walker, Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson could all potentially have big games Sunday night.
One reason why the Colts were able to have so much success against them last week is that they spread the defense out and found holes in their coverage.
The Packers definitely can't afford to forget about Ahman Green and the running game, though. They need to cut the game down by running the ball on a consistent basis.
Think about this fact for the Houston Texans defense. They are playing Peyton Manning and Brett Favre in back-to-back games. That is a nightmare situation for any defensive back.
One thing I really like about the Texans defense, though, is that they are a very tough group. They are close-knit and they tackle well. They really get after the quarterback.
It almost seemed like they were scared to blitz at times against Manning, though. That leads to me believe that maybe they won't blitz Brett as much as they do against some other quarterbacks. The way the Packers' offensive line has been playing, they don't really care if they blitz or not.
On the perimeter of their defense, the Texans are a little bit small. I think Ahman will have success if he is able to get around the corner and break some runs to the outside and into the secondary.
Tony Fisher is going to be a key on third downs. If he is able to pick up the blitz and protect Brett's back side, I think you'll see Favre connect with Javon Walker on some deep passes.
Javon should be able to use his size to his advantage going up against cornerback Aaron Glenn. Glenn may be 5-foot-10, and Javon stands 6-foot-3.
If the offensive line can control this game, I see Ahman Green getting over 150 yards and Brett Favre throwing for over 250. I'm not really a stat guy, but if the Packers control the clock and put up those kind of numbers, they should win the game.
Going back a little while, I said that elite teams have to win at home and beat the teams they should beat on the road. This is one of those games that this Packers team should win. This is a game that the Green Bay offense should dominate, but if they turn the ball over, it could be difficult to leave Texas with the victory.
Now that I've gotten the offense out of the way, this is potentially going to be a difficult game for the Packers defense. They will be facing a group of three young, bright, big receivers. Former Green Bay Packer Corey Bradford, Jabar Gaffney, and Andre Johnson make up one of the best groups of wideouts that the Packers will see all season.
Johnson is really a big-time receiver. Looking back at their game against the Minnesota Vikings, he went up and got the ball numerous times and had one of his breakout games. Had David Carr continued to throw the ball to him, I think they would have won the game (they eventually ended up losing in overtime).
David Carr may be one of the brightest young stars in the NFL. He reads his progression well, he knows where he wants to throw the ball, and he has a very strong arm. Every now and then, he seems to get out of trouble by scrambling around and making a play. He reminds me a little of the #4 that he will be facing off with in this game.
Domanick Davis, their running back, is a very good back that the Packers have got to tackle well. He breaks a lot of tackles and he's been running very effectively as of late.
This Texans offense moved the ball very well against Indianapolis, but they weren't able to capitalize. If they move the ball on the Packers defense, don't worry. Moving the ball does not mean winning the game.
The key to this game for the Green Bay defense is going to be tackling. The Texans have a number of players, most notably Johnson and Davis, who will make you pay for any missed tackle. They have a great ability to turn a short gain into six points in the blink of an eye.
Whenever you go on the road to places such as Reliant Stadium, you have to take the crowd out of the game. The best way to do that is to control the ball, win the turnover battle, and commit no penalties. If you can limit the penalties to three and under on the road, you have an excellent chance of winning the game.
Look for the Green Bay Packers to go out and establish dominance right away in this game.
If it's a shootout - the Packers will win it.
If it's a ground-game battle - the Packers will win it.
The only way the Packers won't win this game is if they get 10 or more penalties and three or more turnovers. Those are two things that I don't expect to happen, and I expect to see the Packers heading back to Green Bay with a 6-4 record.
*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002. This season Butler is again providing exclusive analysis to Packers.com beginning with training camp and later with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays, followed by a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays during the preseason and regular season.
Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website, leroybutler36.com.*