Wild Card Breakdown
Oakland Raiders vs Houston Texans
WHEN : Saturday, January 7th. 4:35 p.m. (EST)
WHERE : NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
The battle of struggling offenses! The 12-4 Oakland Raiders will face off against the Houston Texans, champions of the AFC South. The two quarterbacks who will look to lead their respective teams to victory have had a rough time throughout this season. For the Raiders, it will be Connor Cook taking the snaps. Cook is a rookie out of Michigan State, where he led the Spartans to two Big Ten championships. His only NFL action was in their week 17 loss to the Broncos, attempting 21 passes and throwing for 150 yards. Cook is forced to lead the way for the Raiders after injuries to their young leader, Derek Carr, and his backup Matt McGloin. McGloin still has a chance to play on Saturday, but the Raiders are not optimistic about his chances. It is never easy for a rookie quarterback to compete in the playoffs, but Cook will get his first start ever in a do or die game against the Texans.
Houston’s quarterback situation is far from ideal as well. Over the last three weeks Tom Savage has been behind center. In week 17, Savage was removed from the contest due to concussion like symptoms. His status remains up in the air for Saturday’s first round playoff game. Texans head coach, Bill O’Brien, recently announced that it will be Brock Osweiler starting against the Raiders. Osweiler has struggled heavily throughout this season as he has thrown just 15 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. Prior to this season Osweiler was supposed to be the answer at the quarterback spot for Houston’s future. However, he has been everything but that in 2016. He has yet to eclipse the 300 yard passing mark in a single game this season. Osweiler has not lived up to his 72 million dollar contract, but right now, he’s Houston’s best option.
Oakland has relied heavily on their offense throughout the season, ranking in the top 10 in the league in total yards and points scored. However, this production will be very tough to manage without Derek Carr. The Texans on the other hand, are carried by their stellar defense which ranks as the top team in the league in yards allowed per game.
These two teams faced off earlier this season, when the Raiders came out on top 27-20. The Texans did find some success in the loss, when their elite running back Lamar Miller, ran for 104 yards and a touchdown. Oakland’s defense has had a lot of trouble stopping the run. The Raiders rank 23rd in this column, allowing 117 rushing yards per game. The week 11 contest has little impact on what the wild card game will entail considering both of these teams have completely changed in the last 7 weeks.
The stat that is the most important in this contest though, is the fact that the Texans are 7-1 at home this season. They have dominated their opponents at NRG Stadium, and will look to do so again in the first featured NFL playoff matchup.
MY PREDICTION : I am taking the Houston Texans in this battle. Their defense is already extremely tough to beat, give them a rookie QB who has never started a game before, and I do not like the ending result for the Raiders. I think this will be a low scoring contest, with a final score of 17-10. The status of their leading rusher, Lamar Miller, is still up in the air. However, the Texans will still rely heavily on the run, and Miller’s backup, Alfred Blue, has proven to be a reliable replacement. The AFC South champs will move on, and Oakland will shift their focus to Derek Carr’s health, and next season.