It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish! Welcome to the 2017 NFL Playoffs. The kickoff game isn’t exactly get-your-popcorn-ready material. This unwatchable match-up (which probably pulls twice the rating of the Cubs/Indians World Series Game 7) features the team that drafted Khalil Mack (Oakland Raiders) and the team that should have drafted Khalil Mack (Houston Texans). Vegas agrees,, this game has the lowest total (37) of the weekend….but hey, it does have the smallest spread (HOU -3.5), so maybe it’ll be close?!
A lot of people thought the Texans were crazy when they signed Brock Osweiler to an $72 million dollar contract in the offseason…..and those people were right. Through 15 games, “B.O.” completed under 60% of his passes, threw more picks (12) than touchdowns (11) , took 27 sacks and fumbled a handful of times. In other words, good enough to win the AFC South!
Not surprisingly, the Texans skill players collectively turned in a down year. Lamar Miller barely cracked a 1,000 yards; a threshold DeAndre Hopkins couldn’t even reach. Safe to say Nuk wasn’t on many fantasy championship rosters this year.
Despite losing their best player before the season began, defense is the name of the game in Houston. JJ Watt was too busy creating his own logo and filming Bose commercials to train in the offseason and promptly blew out his back, missing the entire season. Ironically, if you look at his logo upside down you can kind of see an inflated ego. #hiddenmessage. That has left the 2014 No. 1 overall pick, Jadeveon Clowney as the face of the defense. For his career, The Clown has amassed 72 tackles, 10.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble….or what we like to call a “down year” for All-World Khalil Mack (University at Buffalo shout out).
The Texans defense ranks first in yards allowed. Or is it last in yards allowed?? Either way, teams had trouble moving the ball for positive gains against the Texans. I guess they can hang their oversized cowboy hats on that…..oh and the fact that they don’t have to face….
Derek Carr was in the MVP discussions before he broke his leg in half on Christmas Eve. Not to be outdone, backup Matt “The other Red Rifle” McGloin broke his McShoulder the following week. To top it all off, starting Left Tackle Donald Penn has been ruled out with a knee injury. When the Raiders move to Vegas any chance they change their logo to a black cat breaking a mirror with an upside down horseshoe under a ladder?
Truthfully, the McGloin injury is a blessing in disguise considering he’s 1-7 as a starter. That’s bad, right? The Raiders at least get to trot out the “element of surprise” in 4th round rookie Connor Cook. The Texans are literally going to have to breakdown his college tape to game plan for him. Have fun with that.
The 3.5 point spread makes a ton of sense. The Raiders are going to protect Cook as much as possible (translation: run the ball) knowing that the Houston offense isn’t exactly going to blow the doors off the hinges. Turnover machine Osweiler will see to that. This game feels like it is going to come down to a fluky special teams play or a missed extra point.
Since I’m practically the president of the Khalil Mack fan club (is it that obvious?), my pick here may be slightly biased, but I’ll take the RAIDERS +3.5.
Final Score: Houston 24, Oakland 22