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Raiders vs. Texans Money Line Prediction – AFC Wild Card

Oakland Raiders(12–4) @ Houston Texans(9–7)

  • Where: NRG Stadium. Houston, Texas
  • When: January 7, 2017 4:35 pm EST
  • Spread: Raiders +4 (-115) vs. Texans -4 (-105)
  • Moneyline: Raiders (+133) vs. Texans (-147)
  • Over / Under: Over 37 (+100) vs. Under 37 (-120)

The 2016/17 NFL playoffs are scheduled to kick off with one of the most historically unexciting matchups in recent memory: It’s the Houston Texans, led by quarterback Brock Osweiler, taking on the Oakland Raiders, led by putative starter and third-string rookie quarterback Connor Cook.

Both of these teams have similar storylines: strong defensive fronts receive little support from a quarterback situation that, over the last few weeks, have yielded offenses in complete disarray. Between the Raiders and the Texans, four starting quarterbacks have either been benched or gone down with injuries over the last month.

However, poor quarterback play and uninspiring football doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t value to be found. The value in what should be a defensive battle is with the underdog.

Bet on the Raiders to win on the money line (+133) at Bovada and get up to $250 cash as a bonus.

Oakland’s dreams were dashed when Derek Carr went down

Raiders at Texans Playoffs PredictionAfter a season that featured one of the most exciting franchise renaissances in recent memory, Oakland’s dreams to make a run deep into the playoffs for the first time in a long time were dashed when Derek Carr broke his leg.

As usual in the NFL, when it rains it pours, and it didn’t take long for backup QB Matt McGloin to go down as well, leaving the Raiders’ chances to win the division in the hands of rookie third-stringer Connor Cook. Needless to say, it didn’t happen, and with their loss to the Broncos and Kansas City’s win over the Chargers, the Raiders lost out on the opportunity to take a week off and get healthy.

However, the biggest question mark for the Raiders going into this matchup isn’t the offense – it’s pretty certain that the Raiders will struggle mightily to move the ball, hold on to the ball, and score points. More interesting is whether their defense will be able to pick up the slack.

Over the last eight games Oakland’s defense has generated at least one turnover in each game, for 17 turnovers overall. However, during that same 8-game stretch the defense has allowed an average of over 22 points per game, and the secondary has looked particularly suspect.

If Oakland is going to be able to win a playoff game, it will have to be based on the play of their defense: They will need to win the turnover margin, and they will probably need to score some points on defense to win. But it remains to be seen whether they have what it takes to do so.

Houston’s quarterback situation has sinking their season

Somehow, the Texans are getting better Super Bowl odds at the Bovada sportsbook (+6600) than the Oakland Raiders (+7500) as well as better AFC Champion odds (28-to-1 vs. 33-to-1). My only explanation for this is the lack of confidence in Oakland backup quarterbacks Matt McGloin (unlikely to start) and Connor Cook (a rookie), which is understandable.

However, it’s important to remember what a historically terrible season Texans QB Brock Osweiler had. In his first 14 starts before getting benched halfway through Week 15, Osweiler threw more interceptions than touchdowns (16–14), and completed only 27% of his passes thrown 15 yards or farther downfield. This mark is good for the second-worst in the last decade.

Now officially named the starter for the Wild Card game (as Tom Savage is in the concussion protocol), the big storyline has been that Osweiler now has a “shot at redemption.” I’m not buying it. After an entire season of choking and playing terrible football, there’s no reason to believe that three games off, higher stakes, and more pressure should improve his performance.

Why I’m betting the Raiders to defeat the Texans on Saturday

This game has the potential to get real ugly. If Connor Cook is named the starter, we have the potential to see an untested rookie go on the road and take on one of the worst quarterbacks we’ve seen in years. We’re likely to see interceptions, and potentially defensive points as well.

This is why a 4-point spread is simply too close for comfort. I like this game to be close, and very low-scoring, as both defenses prevent the other team’s terrible quarterback from moving the ball or scoring points. I don’t think there’s any chance that the Texans win by 10, but it’s possible that they could win by a touchdown.

I recommend pairing the Raiders and the Dolphins on a two-team teaser at the Bovada sportsbook.

David HeinenThis article was written by David Heinen

David Heinen is a freelance psychology writer by day, inveterate NFL junkie by night. Born and raised on the Green Bay Packers, David is a die-hard Cheesehead, not to mention a cheese enthusiast in his spare time.

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