Oakland at Houston AFC Wild Card Odds, Expert Pick & TV Info

Posted by Kenny Bell on Thursday,January 5, 2017 9:40, EDT in

Here’s hoping you like defense because Saturday’s AFC wild-card game between the Raiders and Texans in Houston, site of this year’s Super Bowl, as this might be the worst quarterback matchup in NFL playoff history — and that’s not hyperbole. Thus this has the lowest NFL betting total of the season. This is the first postseason meeting between the two teams. Houston leads the all-time regular-season series 6-4.

Oakland at Houston AFC Wild Card Odds, Expert Pick & TV Info

When: Saturday, Jan. 7, 4:35 PM ET
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston
TV: ESPN
RadioOakland / Houston
Stream Option: WatchESPN
Opening NFL Lines: Texans -3.5 (36.5)

Why Bet on Oakland?

Oakland has qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2002. That season, the Raiders won the AFC West with an 11-5 record and advanced to Super Bowl XXXVII. Raiders Pro Bowl defensive end Khalil Mack was the only player in the NFL this season with at least 10 sacks (11) and an interception-return touchdown.

But the Raiders will be going with rookie fourth-round pick Connor Cook at quarterback, and he’ll become the first QB in NFL history to make his first-ever start in the playoffs. That’s because usual starter Derek Carr broke his leg in Week 16 and is done for the season. That totally changed the Raiders’ entire outlook as Carr was playing like an MVP. Then last week, backup Matt McGloin injured his left shoulder in the second quarter in Denver. He couldn’t return and Cook threw for one TD but had a pick and lost fumble in his place.

So Cook has been named the starter by Bill O’Brien because McGloin isn’t healthy. And the last time Cook started a game it went really poorly. That was for No. 3 Michigan State against No. 2 Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinals following the 2015 NCAA season. The Crimson Tide, who boasted the No. 3-ranked defense in the country, throttled Cook and the Spartans 38-0 to reach the national championship game. Cook was 19-of- 39 for 210 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns while getting sacked four times. Cook appeared to be affected by a shoulder injury, though he denied it. That terrible performance dropped Cook into the fourth round of this year’s draft. Houston, incidentally, has the No. 2 pass defense in the NFL.

Top Raiders WR Amari Cooper said he’s going to “demand the ball” in Saturday’s game. Cooper was held under 60 yards receiving in seven of the last eight games to close out the regular season and hasn’t had a 100-yard game since his monster Week 8 against the Bucs. But Oakland figures to be run-heavy with Cook under center.

Why Bet on Houston?

Houston has won the AFC South four times in the past six seasons (2011-12, 2015-16). The Texans have won their wild card playoff game in two of their previous three postseason appearances. But they were slaughtered 30-0 at home by Kansas City in last year’s wild-card game.

The Texans benched free-agent bust QB Brock Osweiler in Week 15 because he was one of the lowest-rated quarterbacks in the NFL. But Osweiler got back onto the field in Week 17 when Tom Savage suffered a concussion. And because Savage is still in the concussion protocol, Osweiler will start against Oakland. (Not yet clear if Savage will be the No. 2).

In Week 17 vs. the Titans, Osweiler was 21-of- 40 for 253 yards and a touchdown. He did not throw an interception and also ran for a 1-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter. That was actually one of his better games of the year. The Texans signed Osweiler to a four-year, $72 million contract during the offseason, but he has 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 15 games.

During the season, Osweiler’s 27 percent completion percentage on throws of 15-plus yards downfield was the second-worst rate in a single season since downfield tracking was kept in 2006. Because of that, Osweiler was not able to take advantage of his biggest offensive weapon, Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. He finished the 2016 season with 78 catches for 954 yards and just four touchdowns after a huge 2015.

A playoff win over the Raiders on Saturday wouldn’t wipe away Osweiler’s regular-season struggles, but it could at least give the Texans something to build on with a quarterback who is still owed $16 million in guaranteed money next season.

Top Houston running back Lamar Miller will play after missing Weeks 16-17: “Missing my first two games (of my career), it was kind of tough. It was different for me, but I’m happy I’m back and I’m looking forward to helping this team.” Miller should get plenty of work.

Houston lost to Oakland 27-20 earlier this season in Mexico City but outplayed the Raiders for about three quarters.

Oakland at Houston AFC Wild Card Expert Pick: Oakland Raiders

Raiders are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 road games.
Under is 5-1 in Texans last 6 games overall.

That Raiders road trend is nice, but that’s with Carr. Take Houston and the under in NFL betting.