Will the Texans get their third all-time playoff win on Saturday as they take on the Raiders? Here’s my prediction:
The regular season game between these two teams turned out to be much different than most people expected. Despite the Texans being 6-3 they were heavy underdogs against the “home” Raiders in Mexico City, in a game that lived in infamy for the Houston faithful. There were multiple questionable calls that went against the Texans in that game. Furthermore, some guy tried to blind Brock Osweiler from the stands.
That started a three game losing streak for the Texans that put their position atop the AFC South very much in doubt. After that loss, they dropped their only home game of the year to San Diego the next week. After a loss at Lambeau the Texans were 6-6 and in the middle of a three way race for the AFC South title.
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But one of the biggest factors going for the Texans is the fact this game is at home. They were 7-1 at home this season and never allowed more than 23 points at home.
Second, the defense finished number one in the NFL in yards allowed. With the exception of a few big plays in the first meeting, the Texans held the Raiders largely in check on the road. At home, I would expect an even better performance against Connor Cook, who is making his first NFL start. Another big loss for the Raiders is going to be left tackle Donald Penn. He protected the blind side and now Houston will have more chances to get pressure on the young quarterback.
There is one thing going against the Texans in this game–Brock Osweiler was actually worse at home than he was on the road this season. In home games this season he threw eight touchdowns with 12 interceptions. On the road he had seven touchdowns and just four interceptions. However, he had one of his best games of the year against the Raiders going 26 of 39 for 243 yards and a touchdown with one interception.
How the game will go
The Raiders are going to struggle on offense once again just like they did in Denver last week. This time the Texans will be ready for the passes to the running backs, which killed them in the first meeting. Oakland will have to establish the running game if they are going to win this game.
For the Texans, they are going against one of the weakest defenses in the league against both the run and the pass. As long as they can keep Khalil Mack out of the backfield (which is much easier said than done) they should be able to get enough done on offense. Lamar Miller will get a lot of carries against a defense that allowed 4.5 yards per carry and ranked 23rd against the run.
One other interesting note is that the only division winners with worse point differentials than the Texans are the 2010 Seahawks and 2011 Broncos. Both of those teams won their wild card games. The Texans keep it going and win an ugly game 17-10.