Houston vs Oakland
Pick based on Asian handicap. Not familiar with handicaps? Read our Asian handicap betting guide
After a busy season involving injuries and unsuccessful signings, Houston enters this post-season trying to show that it really is a playoff-caliber team. The team started the year off without their best player, DE J.J. Watt, who barely played in 2016 due to injury. The biggest hiring of the last offseason of the Texans, QB Brock Osweiler, had a year of 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. The team decided to put the shirt 17 as a reserve in week 16 and put the QB Tom Savage as starter. However, a concussion suffered by Savage caused Osweiler to play again between the starters and replacing Savage in the last three quarters of week 17, he had 21-40, 253 yards and 1 touchdown ground. Promising numbers after a fairly complicated regular season for former Denver Broncos.
The Houston defensive team made a good year, as did coordinator Romeo Crennel, who was one of the league's best assistants. The Texans were the lowest-scoring team among 32 league teams during the regular season, averaging 301 per game. Faced with a rather inexperienced opponent quarteback, we expect to see several blitzes on the rookie of that pass rush that is extremely aggressive and physical under the leadership of NT Vince Wilfork.
The Raiders were one of three best teams in the regular season, won 12 of 16 games and no doubt had everything to enter this post-season with real Super Bowl chances, however, a serious injury in QB Derek Carr greatly reduced the chances of Californians to be prolific at this stage of the league. Carr had been one of the top names for the MVP award and to make the things worse, his backup, QB Matt McGloin, suffered a shoulder injury in the final game of the season. In other words, the third Oakland quarterback will start, being QB Connor Cook, a freshman who will be the first pitcher in history to make his first start in a playoff game. The pressure is gigantic for former Michigan State Spartans.
Defensively the Californians ended the regular season as the league's seventh worst in yards given per game and averaged more than 24 points conceded per game, a pretty bad mark. The team has some game-changers, such as DE Khalil Mack and LB Bruce Irvin, however, a better job needs to be presented when it comes to facing one-dimensional attacks.
We will face a game very ugly offensively. These teams met during the regular season in Mexico of the NFL International Series, and we had Raiders victory in the occasion by 27 × 20. By the end it was a very fierce game and, despite having beaten that duel, it was a very bad match of both attacks. The Californian ground game did not pass the registered 30 yards while Osweiler had no more than 1 touchdown.
Despite the awful season, I am against putting Osweiler on the bench. He is a Super Bowl winner in a season in which he has had a lot of merit in the Broncos and his presence on the pitch is important for a team as new to the playoffs as Houston. He has experience and in a game of these without doubt he can have a brackout performance, mainly facing a defense that has average more than 250 yards ceded in the aerial game. If the 17 shirt has support from his receivers and TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, who was a stunning revelation of 2016, in addition to a good backfield from RB Lamar Miller, the Texans have excellent chances to advance in the playoffs. In addition, they play at home and know they are owed a post-season win after the wildcard game that was the wildcard game of the 2015 playoffs.
The rookie quarterback of Oakland will play in a never before seen atmosphere (playoffs), before the best defense of the NFL (in statistics) and outside of house. The way the Californian backfield played in Mexico, running 30 yards in a whole game, I'm not expecting to see home runs going on at Houston's front-7. The offensive line comes with complications due to injury, Donald Penn's LT case, and this can worsen even more
My bet is Houston - 3
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