Oakland is playing without two of its best players on the offensive side of the ball in the 2016 AFC Wild Card Round. Starting quarterback Derek Carr broke his leg in Week 16’s home win against the Indianapolis Colts. Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn had to miss Saturday’s game with a slight fracture in his knee. Penn will likely try to gut it out should the Raiders advance.
The Raiders are going with rookie third-string quarterback Connor Cook on Saturday. For Oakland to win on the road in Houston, the Raiders will need a big game from its inconsistent defense. The Raiders are talented on that side of the ball, but give up the big play far too often.
One would argue that the Raiders’ best part of their defense is their pass rush. Oakland has an elite outside linebacker in All-Pro Khalil Mack. The Raiders signed Irvin away from the Seattle Seahawks in 2016 NFL free agency to complement Mack in the Oakland pass rush.
With Houston having its own issues at the quarterback position, the best way that Oakland can execute a furious comeback is to get after Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler. Oakland trail the Texans 20-7 at halftime of their first-round AFC playoff game.