Oakland Raiders vs. Houston Texans
Date and Time: Saturday, January 7, 2017, 4:35 p.m. ET
Location: NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
NFL Playoff Odds at BookMaker.eu: Texans -3, O/U 37
Oakland Raiders vs. Houston Texans TV Coverage: ESPN
When Oakland Has the Ball…
The Raiders have had all sorts of problems on the quarterback front of late. First, it was David Carr who was lost to a leg injury for the season. Now, Matt McGloin is dinged up as well with a shoulder issue. It's still too early in the week as of the writing of this article to tell whether McGloin will or will not be available, but the task for this offense is going to be the same: Figure out how to run the ball against one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Houston's rush defense isn't fantastic at 99.7 yards per game, but one of its best game of the season came in Mexico City against these Raiders. Oakland amassed just 20 carries for 30 yards.
Of course, there's always that alternative way to have a ground game, and that's to throw the ball out of the flats to your running backs. The backs for Oakland had a total of 11 catches, 199 yards and two TDs.
By hook or by crook, the Raiders have to get their running backs going in this game to keep the pressure off of whomever is going to be under center, or a Houston defense that held teams to just 301.3 yards per game could run amok.
When Houston Has the Ball…
Last year when the Texans played in the opening round of the playoffs, they were shut out by the Chiefs at home in one of the most embarrassing displays in team history. It's not like this offense has been any better than the one butchered by Brian Hoyer last season.
First it was Brock Osweiler. Then it was Tom Savage. Savage played in Week 17 in a meaningless game against Tennessee and suffered a concussion. If he can't play, it's up to Osweiler again, and this might end up being his last shot to earn the rest of that $72 million contract that sure looks like a massive albatross from this past offseason.
The Texans only scored a total of 23 offensive TDs this year, and they flat out just don't score more than twice in a game.
The man who has to get going is DeAndre Hopkins. He finished the season with just 78 catches for 954 yards and four TDs, and we're going to go out on a limb and suggest that he needs 100+ yards in this game to give Houston any chance. Remember that Lamar Miller has been injured for quite some time, and though he plans on playing in this game, we just don't think he can be anywhere near as effective as he was in the first meeting of these two teams when he had 104 yards and a TD on the ground.
The X Factor
Aside from the fact that Carr had himself a fantastic season and is still surely going to be considered for the MVP, the difference between this year and the previous editions of the Raiders that were so disappointing is this offensive line. The Raiders have a slew of talent here with Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson and Menelik Watson for sure, but they also have the most penalized offensive line in the NFL.
The Raiders committed 147 penalties this season, the fourth most in the history of the NFL. Their 1,251 penalty yards? Also fourth most ever.
The Texans might have had a horrible offense this season, but they didn't beat themselves. They committed an average of just 5.4 penalties per game this season, and if they can induce Oakland into beating itself, that might be the key to give the hosts their third playoff win in franchise history.