Raiders vs. Texans
Date and Time: Saturday, January 7, 2017, 4:30 p.m. ET
Location: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
NFL Playoff Odds at BookMaker.eu: Houston -3.5, O/U 36.5
Raiders vs. Texans TV Coverage: ESPN
Had Oakland not lost Derek Carr to an injury against Indianapolis, the Raiders would have been favored to knock off the Texans, much in the same way that the Chiefs were favored here last season. However, the loss of Carr has shifted the line about a touchdown and has Houston as a 3.5-point home favorite.
Even though both quarterback situations are cloudy at the moment, don’t expect a lot of line movement if there is clarification over who will be the signal caller for either team. For the Texans, there isn’t much difference between Tom Savage and Brock Osweiler. Both quarterbacks are hesitant to take chances and check down a lot, limiting turnovers, but limiting efficiency as well.
With Oakland, the Raiders know what they have in Matt McGloin, but what they have in Connor Cook is less certain. McGloin at best is a mediocre quarterback with a limited ceiling, but won’t make stupid mistakes. On the other hand, Cook is a rookie with only one game of experience, the loss to Denver in the last regular season game, and while he has higher upside, there is a higher risk in going with him as well.
Team and Coaching Playoff History
Bill O’Brien has coached the Texans to a 9-7 record in each of his three seasons, but has yet to score a point in the postseason after being shut out by Kansas City in the Wildcard round last season. Even though he is considered an offensive mastermind, his teams have never been in the top half of the league in total offense and it has been the defense that has carried the day.
This was the best team that Jack Del Rio has ever had as a coach and it’s a shame that it will be a shadow of itself without Carr. In his nine seasons in Jacksonville, he only made the playoffs twice, with a 1-2 record in that time. He has never played a home playoff game and each time he made the playoffs in Jacksonville his teams were ousted by New England.
Recent Games of Note
Osweiler has been awful this season, but one of his better games was against Oakland in Mexico City a month and a half ago. However, that wasn’t enough as Carr was able to hit big plays against the Texans defense and the Raiders were able to escape with a 27-20 win.
The most frustrating thing about Osweiler’s play this season has been his timidity. His 5.8 yards per attempt average is one of the lowest in the league for any quarterback and highlights how often he is checking down to running backs and tight ends. The hopes that Osweiler could team up with DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller to make an explosive offense have been short circuited by his poor play and has led to both receivers being less effective than they could be. If Osweiler had been even a league average quarterback this Houston team could have been a legitimate Super Bowl contender, but that won’t happen with the way he is playing.
Oakland saw what life was like without Carr in a dismal performance against Denver in the season finale. The Raiders were unable to get anything going with either McGloin or Cook and the running game couldn’t bail them out.
That running game will face a similarly tough defensive front when these teams meet on Saturday. Oakland managed just 1.5 yards a carry in its earlier game against Houston and without Carr to open up the field, it’s hard to see how the Raiders are going to move the ball on this defense.