AFC Wild Card
(5) Oakland Raiders at (4) Houston Texans
Raiders: The silver and black are back! After a 14-year playoff drought, the Oakland Raiders are back playing in January after so many down years and failing to make the playoffs. The road here wasn’t easy, but here they are. In week 15, they lost Derek Carr for the year to a broken fibula and then you insert Matt McGloin. Last week in Denver, he gets hurt. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to Connor Cook, a rookie quarterback from Michigan State and this was a kid I was high on while he was in college and you can ask many of my radio associates and they can vouch. He’s a 6’4 guy that spreads the football around, he shows tremendous poise in the pocket and he has the arm strength to push the football down the field. Looking at this situation for Oakland, Connor Cook couldn’t come into a better situation. He has a great offensive line to protect him up front, a three-headed monster at running back to take pressure off him so he doesn’t have to throw the ball a certain amount of times and I saved the best for last, he has a trio of wide receivers that can make a play at any given time. Amari Cooper will always be one of your top targets, Seth Roberts is your guy in the slot that does all the damage underneath and then there’s the veteran of the core and that’s Michael Crabtree. To kick off the playoffs, they’ll travel to Houston to see a Texans team they defeated once already this year.
Texans: For the second straight season and fourth time in six years, the Houston Texans are division champions of the AFC South and we were very unsure about what to expect from them after J.J. Watt went down with his back injury. The biggest move they made in the offseason was signing Brock Osweiler to a massive contract and they signed a guy to big money after he started a total of seven games. Let’s look at the numbers, shall we? He’s thrown 15 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions and the last time I checked, those aren’t good numbers for a guy that this team broke the bank on to sign and to make matters worse, he was benched. Tom Savage came in hoping to provide a spark and he wasn’t bad because he actually took care of the football and didn’t turn it over. It’s safe to say the Texans have a quarterback issue on their hands and this off-season for them will be very interesting because everyone will want to know will they stick with Osweiler or will they draft a quarterback come April? Their offense has thrived because of Lamar Miller and he was a great signing for the Texans in March last season after the team decided to release Arian Foster. The defense held its own this year which may come as a surprise to a lot of people. They finished the regular season ranked 11th in total defense and they did that without their best player on that side of the ball. When the Texans played in this round last year, they were shut out. Now, they’ll try to bounce back and win a playoff game for the first time in five seasons.
Raiders Player To Watch: Michael Crabtree– On a team where the playoff experience is low, you’ll always find a guy who’s been here before and for the Raiders, that’s Michael Crabtree. He was on those 49ers teams during the Jim Harbaugh days that always made runs in the playoffs and even has experience playing in the Super Bowl. That veteran presence is always big and he’ll need to be big time for a third-string quarterback making his very first start on Saturday.
Texans Player To Watch: Vince Wilfork– With Watt out, he’s the unquestioned leader of this defense and this is a pretty good guy to be under. He was always a vital piece during his tenure with the Patriots and their postseason success. He’s a run stopper and a good one at that. He’s not a pass rusher, but he’s able to still affect a quarterback’s pocket when necessary.
Prediction: This is the first of three rematches this weekend to kick off the playoffs and Brock Osweiler will be starting for the Texans on Saturday afternoon. The big question is what Brock are we going to see because he’s shown what he can be during the Bronco days. The advice is simple for Connor Cook, don’t overdo it and play within yourself. I like the Oakland Raiders to win this game. Raiders 20 Texans 10