National Football League: AFC Wild Card OAK vs. HOU
Oakland Raiders (12-4, 6-2 away) at Houston Texans (9-7, 7-1 home)
January 7, 2017- 4:35 PM ET (TV ESPN/ABC) NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
After 14 long years, the Oakland Raiders will finally get a taste of playoff football once again, but if they have any visions of making some serious noise, they will have to put their playoff hopes on the shoulders of a rookie quarterback to help lead them to the promise land. Come Saturday afternoon at NRG Stadium, the Silver and Black will go head-to-head against the Houston Texans in an AFC Wild Card contest that has the following betting lines;
Best Raiders Lines: 5Dimes Spread (+4) ML +187
Best Texans Lines: MyBookie Spread (-3.5) ML -200
Over/Under: BetOnline 37.0
Two weeks removed from the devastating loss of MVP-candidate Derek Carr, who was loss for the season with a broken fibula, the Raiders (12-4) must now put their faith in rookie QB Conner Cook, who has been thrust into action after backup journeyman Matt McGloin was knocked out of last week’s season finale with a shoulder injury.
Seeing plenty of action in Denver following the loss of McGloin, Cook will now make his NFL debut on the road in a playoff game where it’s win or go home.
Oakland will still boost some deadly weapons in receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree as well as a decent running attack but it will be up to Cook to run, control and seize the opportunity of leading the Raiders to what will be a big-time road challenge.
For Houston, who captured the AFC South Division with a 9-7 record, they will turn back to free-agent disappointment Brock Osweiler, the four-year $72 million offseason “bust” so far. Benched in favor of Tom Savage as he failed to impress running a stagnant offense, Osweiler reclaimed his spot after Savage was lost to a concussion in last Sunday’s final regular-season game.
Osweiler has already faced the Oakland defense in a Monday night matchup back in Mexico; a game in which the Raiders came away with a 27-20 victory in what was an entertaining matchup. Osweiler threw for 243 yards with one touchdown and one pick, but it was their failure to capitalize with touchdowns on two trips to red-zone that did them in.
Will Osweiler be able to find his confidence against an Oakland team behind Cook, who is just going to go out and have fun or will the results be the same? At home, MyBookie is putting their confidence in the Texans as they are favoring HOU (-3.5) points over OAK, while 5Dimes is giving the underdog Raiders (+4) points. BetOnline delivers the over/under at just 37.0 total game points scored.
Putting my confidence in Oakland, I will take the Raiders PLUS the points (+4) to cover the spread over Houston and win this Wild Card game as my betting pick.