Oakland at Houston AFC Wild Card Betting Pick & Odds

Posted by Peter Boysen on January 5, 2017 in

The playoff rivalry between Houston and Oakland goes all the way back to the days of the American Football League, as Houston beat Oakland in the league’s very first game, and then the Raiders and the Oilers tangled in the 1967 AFL Championship game (with Oakland winning to advance to the second Super Bowl). However, the Oilers moved to Tennessee after the 1996 season, first playing in Memphis’ Liberty Bowl until their stadium was ready in Nashville, and the expansion Houston Texans have not yet built the same reputation for postseason success that the Oilers did, often falling just short of Oakland and Pittsburgh in the AFC playoffs. Houston and Oakland have met nine times, with the Texans winning three of the matchups. However, this is the first time the Texans and Raiders have met in the playoffs. The game is made more problematic by the fact that Oakland will start their third-string quarterback, rookie Connor Cook from Michigan State. Before you give up all hope for the Greatness, though, theTexans are only starting Brock Osweiler because Tom Savage, for whom “The Bossweiler” had been sent to the bench, is in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Let’s take a look at this matchup, but don’t forget to check out the NFL odds for all four of the wild card games.

Oakland at Houston AFC Wild Card Betting Pick & Odds

When: Saturday, Jan. 7, 4:35 PM ET
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston
TV: ESPN
RadioOakland / Houston
Stream Option: WatchESPN
NFL Odds: Houston (-3.5), O/U 36.5

Why should you bet on the Raiders?

These two teams did meet in Mexico City in Week 11, and the Raiders prevailed, 27-20. However, back then, the Raiders had Derek Carr at quarterback. Thanks to the Week 17 injury to backup quarterback Matt McGloin, the Raiders will start Cook at quarterback — and have even signed SMU product Garrett Gilbert as an emergency backup. Cook threw for 150 yards when he came on in relief against Denver, notching a touchdown pass — and a pick. It looked like he got his feet under him, though, which is crucial in adjusting from college football to the pros. So as long as Cook can keep his head around and find his talented receivers down the field, and as long as Latavius Murray and Jalen Richard can hit the holes hard, the Raiders have a chance against a moribund Houston offense. As long as they can contain tailback Lamar Miller and get Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin after Osweiler, they could get enough points to advance to the divisional round.

Why should you put your money on the Texans?

The Oakland defense has been iffy at times this year, particularly against the run. Miller missed Weeks 16 and 17 with an ankle injury but is expected to play on Saturday. Even missing two games, Miller ran for 1,073 yards on the season with five scores. As long as Osweiler can stretch the defense enough — with talented wideout DeAndre Hopkins open down the field — there should be running room for Miller. The Texans will lean heavily on their defense in this one, though. They only allowed 20.5 points per game all season, and they won three of four to close out the season despite chaos on offense.

Betting Pick and Final Score Prediction

Connor Cook has shown a penchant for heroics in his NCAA career, such as leading Michigan State past Baylor in a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback in the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic. Cook may struggle initially to find time to pass against the Texans, but I also see Osweiler coming back in as a quarterback with zero confidence — while I also expect Jack Del Rio to have the Raider troops motivated more than they were in Week 17. I like the Raiders to go down to Houston and get the win, 20-19.