Oakland Raiders (12-4; 10-6 ATS; 11-5 O/U) vs. Houston Texans (9-7; 6-9-1 ATS; 6-10 O/U)
NFL AFC Wildcard: Saturday, January 7, 2017 at 4:35pm EST
Line: Houston -3.5
The Houston Texans will face the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Wild Card game Saturday afternoon from NRG Stadium in Houston. The Raiders had a great season, finishing with a 12-4 record, and the Texans won three out of their last four games to win the AFC South division with a 9-7 record. Oakland notched a 27-20 home win over Houston in week 11.
Raiders Relying on Latavius Murray in Carr’s Absence
The Oakland Raiders head into the Wild Card game facing adversity after the devastating season-ending injury to Derek Carr in week 16. The Raiders will no doubt need several players to step in in Carr’s absence on both sides of the ball. To make things worse Carr’s replacement Matt McGloin was injured himself last Sunday and is questionable for this contest. If he is unable to go then Oakland would have to go with third string QB Connor Cook who threw for 150 yards with one TD and one INT against Denver last week. The Raiders will be needing a huge game from running back Latavius Murray if they want a chance to win this game. Murray had a solid season, rushing for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Raiders also feature Jalen Richard who can do damage on the ground as well. Richard averaged a dazzling 6.1 yards per carry, and the Raiders do own the sixth-ranked running game. Oakland’s high-powered offense averaged 26 points per game, good for third in the NFL, but without Carr they will have a tough time scoring points.
The Raiders defense will be going against a low scoring offense but they will have to be on their toes when defending Lamar Miller. They will also have to keep a close eye on DeAndre Hopkins no matter who is at quarterback. Oakland had success at times stopping the run, and they will need Khalil Mack (11 sacks) and Bruce Irvin (7 sacks) to both come in big. The Raiders allowed an average of 24.1 points per game this season, ranking them 20th in the NFL.
Texans Aims for First Playoff Victory Since 2012
The Houston Texans come into the Wild Card game feeling they have a great shot at winning this game against a Raiders team playing without Derek Carr. The Raiders beat the Texans back in week 11 in Mexico City, but it was Carr that threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns that torched the Texans. Tom Savage, who was supposed to play in place of the benched Brock Osweiler, is in concussion protocol after taking a hit in the Texans loss to the Titans last weekend, and he will not play in this one. Brock Osweiler has been named as the starter for the Texans and he has a chance to atone for some subpar play this season. Osweiler did not have a good season, throwing for only 2957 yards with a weak 15:16 TD to INT ratio. The Texans will look to run the ball frequently against a Raiders defense that will give up yards on the ground. Lamar Miller sat out the last two games with an ankle injury but will be ready to go. Miller had a great season on the ground, collecting 1073 rushing yards with five touchdowns, and he will be relied upon heavily in this contest. Houston is not a high scoring team, averaging only 17.4 points per game, ranking them down at 29th in the NFL.
The Texans defense will be the key to victory in this contest. If the Texans defense plays like it can then they should have a very good chance at winning this game with no Carr playing for the Raiders. The Texans have a done a great job at defending the pass all season and are allowing an average of 20.5 points per game, good for 11th in the NFL.
The Oakland Raiders are:
- No Key Trends
The Houston Texans are:
- 10-2-1 ATS in their last 13 games after accumulating less than 90 rushing yards in their previous game.
I am siding with the Texans with this smaller spread. The Raiders are a deflated team with the injury to MVP candidate Derek Carr and I cannot see them winning this game. The Texans own the number two ranked pass defense in the NFL, so I cannot see McGloin or Cook doing much in the air, and Houston has also had success stopping the run, so it will not be easy for Murray. The Texans will run the ball frequently and Oakland owns the 23rd ranked rush defense in the NFL, so I expect Miller to have success on the ground. The Texans defense will allow them to win this game and cover the points.
Pick: Houston Texans -3.5
This should be a quality game between two strong running teams led by Miller and Carr. The Raiders are going to have a very difficult time scoring points with no Derek Carr, and Houston defense is allowing the fewest yards per game in the NFL, so I can’t see Oakland doing much of anything. They were only able to score six points against Denver last week and I think we will see a similar result in this one, plus the under is 4-1 in their last five road games against a team with a winning home record. Houston is not a high scoring team and the under is 5-1 in their last six games.