AFC Wild Card primer: Raiders vs. Texans on Saturday


The Backstory

The last time these teams met, behind on Nov. 22 in Mexico City, Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler was still unresolved tooth-and-nail onto his standing as the guy in Houston while Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was stability his pull toward a multiplication title, first-round bye and an MVP trophy.


My, how things have changed.


Osweiler will be underneath core Saturday, though usually since Tom Savage is still in concussion protocol. Osweiler was benched toward a finish of a deteriorate following a four-game widen when he finished fewer than 60 percent of his passes for only 643 yards, dual touchdowns and 6 interceptions for an normal passer rating of 59.8. In a complement that emphasized round control and a occasional large play from a cannon-armed quarterback, Osweiler could not deliver.

Carr will be rooting from a sidelines. Taking his place is 2016 fourth-round collect Connor Cook — a initial rookie in a Super Bowl epoch to make his initial start in a playoffs. Matt McGloin, Carr’s evident No. 2, is also injured. He underwent an MRI for a shoulder emanate progressing in a week.

At a commencement of a season, before we knew of a dim turns in store or only how catastrophic a Texans’ offense would become, this would have been pegged as a dream matchup for fans who adore good football. Instead, it will be a showcase for fans of good defenses. Khalil Mack will demeanour to provoke Osweiler only like he did in Mexico, while first-time Pro Bowler Jadeveon Clowney is looking for a loyal dermatitis impulse opposite a quarterback who competence be conference footsteps.

Under pressure

Osweiler and Bill O’Brien: we find it tough to trust that a Houston Texans would pierce on from a really good football manager only since he was saddled with a scarcely illogical conditions during quarterback, though we also cruise myself a receptive person. This diversion is a proof belligerent for Houston. Regardless of what has happened to J.J. Watt, a Texans still have a No. 1 altogether collect backing adult during defensive finish and a quarterback who started in a unchanging season. Houston still has Lamar Miller and DeAndre Hopkins. Their list of intensity excuses is distant shorter than a one a Raiders have. In terms of fan appreciation, Osweiler is on his final legs — something he is good wakeful of. The tandem of O’Brien and Osweiler has only a few days to put any slow rancour to a wayside and come adult with a diversion devise that will concede a quarterback to get gentle and discharge a scattershot, non-rhythmic moments that have tangible their season.


Oakland’s descent line: Outside of a Cowboys, Oakland’s descent line competence be a many well-developed front 5 we’ve seen in football this season. They would need to broach something of a Cowboys-esque opening opposite Houston to give rookie quarterback Connor Cook a chance. It’s so easy to contend that substantiating a using diversion will make life easier for a immature quarterback. But this is something different. Johnathan Joseph should be behind and A.J. Bouye is personification improved than roughly any cornerback in a NFL right now. Bouye will take possibly Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree out of a equation, expelling many of a primary reads Cook will have. That leaves a front 5 that contingency comment for a run-hungry Clowney and still find ways to open Latavius Murray. Adding to a complications, Houston will expected do what it did final time opposite a Raiders and bucket adult with a complicated front instead of a bottom 3-4 look.

Matchup to watch

Brock Osweiler vs. himself: In re-watching a final Texans-Raiders matchup, we saw a quarterback with a mental ability to conflict behind opposite terrible mistakes — like hurling a goal-line pass during a defender’s hands, afterwards throwing it as it was batted behind to Osweiler 6 yards behind a line of scrimmage. But on that same drive, he was threading a 12-yard touchdown pass into Braxton Miller during a smallest glance of inside precedence and open space.

Many people have done adult their minds about Osweiler, and that’s fine. But to me, there are prolonged stretches of football when we see dual totally opposite quarterbacks. There are moments when he can implement his parsimonious ends and short-yardage track for slow-killing effectiveness. It’s when he’s placed in an apparent flitting down with his behind opposite a wall that his stork-like speed loses a stroke and we see footballs dismissed into double or triple coverage.

There’s a discreet approach for O’Brien to call this diversion while blending in some elementary throws for Osweiler that can make all a disproportion Saturday. If it were easy, he would have been doing it all season. This will take a kind of attribute that conjunction has seemed meddlesome in carrying with one another all season, though it’s not impossible. The dual opposite quarterbacks that seem to live a 6-foot-8 passer can be boiled down into an meddlesome and invested actor if a resources are right. Will Houston give Osweiler that chance?

Prediction

The weight on Houston entrance into this diversion is incredible. The annoyance of losing during home to a group starting a rookie quarterback for a initial time is a kind of franchise-altering tummy punch that follows players and coaches around for years.

The Texans will not let that happen.

Sensing a huge impact on both of their careers, Osweiler and O’Brien put aside their differences and emanate a defensible conditions for during slightest one week. Oakland’s invulnerability will provoke and make this conditions intensely difficult. In a end, Osweiler creates only adequate of an impact to win, tossing a span of touchdowns and finishing with no interceptions. Miller will supplement a third score, putting a diversion to bed with fewer than 40 total points.

Texans 21, Raiders 13


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