The Texans are in the playoffs and have locked up the four seed. There are three different teams that the Texans could see in the first round. Let’s look at them one by one:
During the first meeting, the Raiders won 27-20 in Mexico City. That game was marred by the laser pointer guy and officiating errors. The Raiders had Derek Carr in that game but will not in this one. Matt McGloin will likely be the starter the rest of the way with Connor Cook as the backup. Really tough break for a team making their first playoff appearance since 2002.
The Raiders are one of six teams in the league that have scored more than 400 points entering week 17. So even without Carr they still will be able to make plays as they have many playmakers with Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Latavius Murray, among others. But can the defense make plays?
Khalil Mack is basically the entirety of the Raiders defense. He has 11 sacks, ranking in the top 10 league wide again. His 68 tackles show that he’s also strong against the run, even though they as a whole have struggled with a 4.6 yards per carry allowed. They rank 28th in yards allowed and 19th in points allowed this season.
The Texans will play the Raiders if the Raiders lose in Denver on Sunday AND the Chiefs win in San Diego.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Texans finally got off the skids earlier this year as they defeated the Chiefs 19-12 at home. Brock Osweiler struggled but connected with DeAndre Hopkins for the game’s only touchdown. Seeing Hopkins take on Marcus Peters has become one of the best young receiver vs. corner rivalries.
The Chiefs got their first playoff win since 1994 last season as Brian Hoyer was awful against the Chiefs once again. This year the Chiefs have a similar formula as they rely on turnovers and special teams for big plays with their ball control offense.
This year, they have a new weapon–Tyreek Hill. He is a swiss army knife on the field, being used on kick returns, out of the backfield and of course at receiver. He has been a catalyst for the team, making big and exciting plays every week.
Their weakness is run defense, as they are 26th in that category and allow 4.4 yards per carry. Without Derrick Johnson in the middle, they are vulnerable.
The Texans will play the Chiefs if one of the following happens:
Oakland win+KC win
Miami loss+Oakland win
Oakland loss+KC loss+Miami loss
They are the surprise playoff team of this year. They are in the playoffs for the first time since 2008 under first year coach Adam Gase. Gase is also a leading candidate for Coach of the Year.
Despite losing quarterback Ryan Tannehill a few weeks ago, they have just kept winning and are now 9-1 in their last ten games after a 1-4 start. While they are ranked 26th in passing yards, they are in the top ten in quarterback rating this season, meaning they are an efficient passing team. This would also provide an interesting matchup between Texans running back and former Dolphin Lamar Miller and his replacement, Jay Ajayi.
With Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker on the outside and Kenny Stills as a third receiver they will stretch any secondary thin. Even with Matt Moore at quarterback they have still made plays.
They have a defensive line that keeps quarterbacks awake at night. Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake leading a fierce pass rush. Wake has 11 sacks while former Jaguar Andre Branch has five and a half sacks as well.
Like the other two teams, they are vulnerable against the run. They allow 4.9 yards per carry, which is tied for the worst mark in the league.
The Texans will play the Dolphins if the Dolphins defeat the Patriots in Miami on Sunday AND the Chargers beat the Chiefs.