The Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans will meet up for a battle in the 2017 NFL playoffs.
While the Raiders have the much better record at 12-4 (Houston is 9-7), they earned the No. 5 seed in the playoffs. The Texans will enter postseason play with the No. 4 seed. One might be wondering why. Simple. Thanks to a loss in Week 17 (and a win by the Kansas City Chiefs), Oakland finished second in its division. Meanwhile, Houston won its division.
The Raiders have not only been a surprise team in 2016, but they have also been one of the best teams in the league. Unfortunately, fans might not be feeling too good about the team’s chances of making the Super Bowl. That tends to be the case when a team loses its quarterback, and that is exactly what happened to the Raiders when Derek Carr went down with a brutal injury. Carr is an MVP contender, so his loss is a major blow.
Oakland enters this game rather depleted. Yes, it holds a 12-4 record, but it is coming off of a loss and, of course, is without its best player on the offensive side of the ball. With that in mind, it’s not like the Texans have the best quarterback in the NFL. Brock Osweiler has been rather disappointing in 2016 as he was benched in favor of Tom Savage.
While we won’t be seeing the best quarterback battle in playoff history in this AFC wild card showdown, the quarterback battle should be interesting for the simple fact that it is flooding with mystery.
It’s important to note that these squads have already taken the field against one another in 2016. The Raiders won that contest by the score of 27-20. However, they, of course, had Carr in that game.
Nonetheless, this is playoff football, which means all eyes will be glued to the TV screen when this clash goes down. Before it does go down, let’s unleash some bold predictions.
Despite QB Questions, Amari Cooper Will Shine
Amari Cooper is a monster on the offensive side of the ball. No matter who is quarterbacking for the Raiders, that person should be looking for Cooper early and often. Cooper had yet another 1,000-yard season in 2016. However — and this is pretty crazy — the wide receiver has not had 100 or more receiving yards since Week 8. In Week 8, Oakland took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Cooper went off for 173 receiving yards.
If the Raiders are going to move on to the next round, players like Cooper have to step up. Whether Oakland leaves Houston with a victory or not, Cooper will remind everyone why he was drafted No. 4 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft thanks to 100 receiving yards at the minimum.
First Team To 20 Wins This Playoff Duel
If Carr was healthy, then this game would likely be much different. For starters, no one would be surprised if the Raiders scored at least 30 points. However, Carr is not playing, and Oakland is coming off of a brutal loss against the Denver Broncos. To make a long story short, the team could only manage six points in a loss.
As for Houston, well, let’s just say Houston struggles to find the end zone. The Texans are only averaging 17.5 points per game, which ranks near the bottom of the standings in that department.
Needless to say, fans could be in store for a low-scoring affair when these teams meet up.
The Raiders Get Knocked Out Of The Playoffs
While neither team is entering this playoff duel with a whole lot of momentum, it certainly doesn’t hurt the Texans’ cause that they will be playing at home. Keep in mind, they only lost by a touchdown against Oakland on the road earlier in the year. Now that Carr is out of the picture, you better believe Houston fans are pumped up for this playoff matchup.
Given the fact that this is playoff football, a setting in which only the best teams in the league are involved, either team is more than capable of making a run in the postseason. With that said, look for Houston to capture the victory and move one step closer to making the Super Bowl.
[Featured Image by Rob Carr/Getty Images]