Welcome to Wild Card weekend! The NFL regular season has come to a close, and that means it is playoff time.We will get two games on Saturday, January 7th and two more on Sunday, January 8th. The first of those games will be held at 4:35 pm EST, and will see the Oakland Raiders travel to Texas to take on the Houston Texans. The Raiders will enter as the first wild card team with a 12-4 record, as they hold the five seed, while the Texans claimed the four seed after winning the AFC South with a 9-7 record.
Both teams enter the playoffs with the same major flaw. Both clubs are without a legit starting quarterback, and it is likely that this game will be decided based on who can actually gain a little momentum moving the ball. The Texans are coming off a 24-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans, who were without their starting quarterback Marcus Mariota. The Oakland Raiders suffered a devastating loss in week 17, as they fell 24-6 to divisional rivals the Denver Broncos.
In week 15, the Texans finally benched quarterback Brock Osweiler after he had played terribly all season. He was replaced by Tom Savage, who is not exactly an All-Pro under center. Savage would go on to suffer a concussion in week 17’s loss to the Titans. This meant Osweiler had a second shot to prove himself. The results were a little better, as he threw a touchdown and no picks, but still only completed half of his pass attempts. He still was nowhere close to the guy the Texans thought they were signing this offseason, and when all was said and done, he threw one more interception than he did touchdowns this year. Even if Savage is cleared, it is not known who will be taking snaps come Saturday, with Osweiler the early favorite. Either way, their defense is going to need a big game if they wish to move on.
Luckily for Houston, the Raiders quarterback situation is just as bad. After Derek Carr had an MVP type of season, and the Oakland Raiders looked like a sure Super Bowl contender, week 16 broke the hearts of the team and their fans. Carr suffered a broken leg, and is will not be playing this week, and likely won’t be until next season. This led to Matt McGloin taking snaps in week 17, and he would sustain a shoulder injury in the blowout loss to the Broncos. This means rookie Connor Cook, who completed 14 of 21, with one touchdown and one interception in week 17, could very well be starting this week if McGloin cannot go. If the Raiders had won this week, they would have locked up the two seed and a bye, and were hands down the more impressive club all season. But the question is, how good are they really without Carr, as the small sample we have seen has not been very promising.
From an overall talent standpoint, I like the Raiders better. The quarterback situations need to be considered a wash, as it is too unpredictable to know what will happen at either spot. So this will come down to the defense and supporting casts. While the Oakland Raiders could shoot themselves in the foot with the penalties, I am banking on Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, DeAndre Washington and the defense to help out and pull out an ugly game for the Raiders.
The winner of this game will either get the New England Patriots or Kansas City Chiefs, depending on the winner of the Pittsburgh Steelers vs Miami Dolphins game.
Line: Hou -3.5, O/U: 36.5
Prediction: Raiders 13 – Texans 7, Raiders and the under
Result: Texans 27 – Raiders 14, Texans and the over