(Sports Network) - The Houston Texans, one of the two remaining undefeated teams in 2012, will host the Green Bay Packers, last year's final unbeaten, which has fallen on hard times this season.
Watch all the action unfold live on TSN, beginning with Football Night in America at 7pm et/4pm pt.
Two of the premier defensive players in the NFL will be in the spotlight tonight: Green Bay's Clay Matthews and Houston's J.J. Watt. Watt leads the NFL with 8 1/2 sacks and Matthews is on his heels with eight.
Who is missing might be the bigger story, however. The Texans improved to 5-0 with a 23-17 win at the New York Jets on Monday night but lost leading tackler Brian Cushing, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
"It's what we thought. He tore his ACL and we lost him for the year," said Texans head coach Gary Kubiak. "He's going to have surgery, probably in about two or three weeks, when the swelling goes down. It's a big blow to our team. You feel bad for Brian because he works so hard. He's going to be missed."
The Packers, meanwhile, lost three key players in their 30-27 setback to Indianapolis last week. Running back Cedric Benson left the game in the second quarter with a left foot injury, tight end Jermichael Finley departed in the third stanza with a shoulder injury and nose tackle B.J. Raji hurt his left ankle.
Cushing, a friend and teammate of Matthews in college at USC, had amassed 29 tackles and one interception so far this season. Seven-year veteran Tim Dobbins replaced Cushing in New York and is the first option to slide into his role, while the newly-signed Barrett Ruud will also be considered down the road.
Ruud, a former starter in Tampa Bay, had seen limited action with New Orleans this season before being released. The eight-year veteran has amassed 642 tackles, six forced fumbles and seven interceptions over the course of his career.
"It's a challenge for our team, that's what this is," Kubiak said. "We know Dobbins is going to go in there and play well, and every player in our locker room is going to take on a little bit more responsibility."
For the Packers, Benson was placed on the injured reserve designated to return list earlier this week with what was diagnosed as a Lisfranc injury. He is expected to be out at least eight weeks and possibly the rest of the season. Finley and Raji, along with star wide receiver Greg Jennings, were all held out of Wednesday's practice, leaving each's status for Sunday in question.
On the field, Arian Foster ran for 152 yards and a touchdown as the Texans held off the Jets on Monday night.
Matt Schaub completed 14-of-28 passes for 209 yards with a touchdown and an interception in that one, while Shayne Graham connected on three field goals for the Texans, who keep building on their best start in franchise history.
Owen Daniels added 79 yards and a score on four receptions in the win.
"Being that we're undefeated right now, I think it perks everyone's interest when they're playing us to go out and give us their best shot," Schaub said.
The Packers, meanwhile, are aiming to get back to .500 after dropping to 2-3 in Indianapolis last Sunday.
The Colts' Reggie Wayne caught 13 passes for a career-high 212 yards, which included the go-ahead touchdown with just 35 seconds remaining.
Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby had a chance to force overtime, but his 51-yard field goal with eight seconds to go hooked wide left.
Aaron Rodgers completed 21-of-33 passes for 243 yards with three scores and an interception for the Packers.
"We talked about the fundamentals and I'll stop right there because that's as far as it went for me in the second half," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. "The number of penalties we had. We're just not doing a very good job of handling the football ... Give credit to the Colts. They battled back."
This is just the third meeting between the two clubs. The Texans evened the series at 1-1 with a 2-21 win on Dec. 7, 2008 when Schaub passed for 414 yards and Kevin Walter caught a 58-yard touchdown.