Five things Raiders fans need to know about the Texans
Win or go home
The Raiders didn’t play well against Denver, and must show better to win their first playoff game since 2002. Focus will be on recovery for a battered unit and intense prep for a backup quarterback. They’ll face a beatable Houston Texans team, one with talent on both sides of the football and troubling quarterback play. Fans may remember the Texans from a Week 11 victory in Mexico City. Here are a few things you need to know about the opposition heading into Saturday’s showdown.
5) Worst offense in these playoffs
The Texans have some talent on offense. The run game is pretty good. Receiver Will Fuller can make slow defenses pay. DeAndre Hopkins can go off at any moment. Assuming, of course, he can get the ball. The Texans have poor quarterback play and had struggles in most offensive categories. They’re 29th with 314 yards per game and 198.5 passing yards per contest. They’re 22nd on third down, and 31st in red zone efficiency.
4) Lamar Miller expected back
Texans feature back Lamar Miller has missed the past two games with an ankle injury, but is expected to return for Saturday’s playoff opener. That’s bad news for the Raiders. Miller has 1,073 yards in 14 games, including 104 yards against the Silver and Black earlier this season. Miller leads a rushing attack that averages 116 yards per game, a sum that could mitigate questionable quarterback play. Keeping Miller contained would be key to slowing Houston down and keeping things close.
3) Pass defense is legit
The Raiders used new quarterbacks Matt McGloin and Connor Cook last week in Denver, against the NFL’s best pass defense. Cook is expected to start against Houston, and things won’t get any easier for someone making his first NFL start. The Texans are second best stopping the pass, led by standout cover men A.J. Bouye and Jonathan Joseph and safety Quentin Temps, who has six interceptions and a forced fumble. A young quarterback has to beware of playmakers and tight coverage in the Texans secondary.
2) Clowney realizing potential
Jadeveon Clowney was drafted No. 1 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. This season he has started playing like it. Khalil Mack has been that draft’s best defender, while Clowney struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness. He’s been awesome this year, with 52 tackles, six sacks, a forced fumble and excellent run defense. The Texans move him around a solid defensive front that also features Whitney Mercilus and Brian Cushing. He dominated up front in this season’s previous meeting, and the Raiders must find ways to negate his influence.
1) Osweiller a shaky starter
Brock Osweiller signed a long-term free agent contract to stabilize the quarterback position. It didn’t work. Osweiller didn’t live up to expectation, with lackluster play that sapped his confidence during the regular season. He was benched after a terrible Week 15 showing against Jacksonville, and only returned Sunday after Tom Savage was concussed. The Texans announced he would start Saturday’s home playoff game in a city where fans barely tolerate their high-priced quarterback. He doesn’t have a passer rating above 100 all season and has more turnovers than touchdowns. A rough start against the Raiders could bring out the boo birds.