Wild card weekend predictions

635156.jpg

Wild card weekend predictions

Cincinnati Bengals (9-7) at Houston Texans (10-6), Saturday, 1:30 pm PT, NBC

This is when the duct tape comes off for the Texans who put on a game effort all year long after losing not only their first- and second-string quarterbacks in Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart, but also defensive end Mario Williams and rode a not-completely heathy Arian Foster to the division title. The Bengals' rookie combination of QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green will prove just enough to end the Texans' first-ever playoff experience.
Prediction: Bengals 20, Texans 16

Detroit Lions (10-6) at New Orleans Saints (13-3), Saturday, 5 p.m. PT, NBC

Five weeks ago, the Lions had the Saints right where they wanted them, and couldn't get out of their own way with so much undisciplined play. The Lions had 11 penalties for 107 yards in that 31-17 loss in New Orleans, which diminished the fact they actually out-gained the Saints that night, 466 yards to 438. But Drew Brees is on such an historical run it's hard to see the Lions being disciplined enough on defense to slow him.
Prediction: Saints 38, Lions 27Atlanta Falcons (10-6) New York Giants (9-7), Sunday, 10 a.m. PT, Fox

With a white-hot QB in Matt Ryan, who threw 15 TDs compared to just two INTs the last seven games, and a punishing rusher in Michael Turner, and rolling into the playoffs having won three of four, the Falcons have the look of last year's champion Green Bay Packers. The key this weekend, then, is to give Ryan time to pick apart the Giants' shockingly sometime suspect defense. While limiting receiver Victor Cruz's salsa steps.
Prediction: Falcons 17, Giants 13Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) at Denver Broncos (8-8), Sunday, 1:30 p.m. PT, CBS

The game all Raiders fans will watch, with their nose plugged. Tim Tebow has not won a game since being skewered on Saturday Night Live and that streak doesn't figure to be broken here. Not with such a punishing defense opposing him. Not even with the Steelers' offense hamstrung with Ben Roethlisberger's ankle still gimpy and Rashard Mendenhall lost for the year. Yes, pray for Tebow if James Harrison gets a beat on him.
Prediction: Steelers 24, Broncos 6

Report: Former Raiders RB arrested for domestic violence

richardson-trent-raiders-pensive.jpg
AP

Report: Former Raiders RB arrested for domestic violence

Trent Richardson is reportedly in some trouble.

Richardson was arrested on Thursday night for domestic violence, according to TMZ Sports.

The former running back was taken into custody on a third degree charge, the report states, with bail being set for $1,000.

The arrest was made in Hoover, Alabama.

The Browns selected Richardson with the third overall pick in the 2012 draft.

He was traded to the Colts in 2013 and played for Indianapolis in 2014.

He signed with the Raiders in 2015 and appeared in three exhibition games, but did not make the team.

The 26-year old was cut by the Ravens last August.

Downing: Carr will have increased influence on Raiders game plan

Downing: Carr will have increased influence on Raiders game plan

Derek Carr and Todd Downing are tight. A strong friendship was forged between the Raiders’ franchise quarterback and his position coach these past two seasons, one that should help the Raiders now that Downing will call plays.

The Raiders new offensive coordinator will use his young signal caller as a resource formulating a game plan. Carr has a bright offensive mind – he called his own plays in high school and in college at times – and Downing plans to use it to put his quarterback in positions to succeed.

Carr’s influence in preparation will expand over previous seasons under coordinator Bill Musgrave.

“Where I see him needing a little bit more command is just being able to share his thoughts of game plans,” Downing said Wednesday in a conference call. “Being a student of the game, as he already is, but vocalize what he likes and doesn’t like. I think my relationship with him is something that’s going to give him the opportunity to voice his opinions. I look forward to him really taking charge of expressing his thoughts on the offense.”

Carr has always had freedom to adjust at the line of scrimmage, but that could increase with Downing in charge. Derek Carr’s brother Davis Carr told 95.7 The Game as much a few weeks ago, a topic Downing addressed on Wednesday.

“There’s been a lot made about his command at the line of scrimmage,” Downing said. “There’s certainly going to be opportunities for Derek to do that. That’s not something I feel we’ll even have to get into until we’re much further into this offseason and into training camp.”

Downing had opportunities to interview with other teams this offseason, but head coach Jack Del Rio wanted to pair Downing and Carr together. The young duo have similar personalities and a strong working relationship based on a love of the game.

“My relationship with Derek starts there,” Downing said in Wednesday interview on 95.7-FM. “We both love coming to work each day and respect the heck out of each other. When you have that kind of relationship with any coach, you’re taking a step in the right direction. Derek’s the leader of our franchise. In my opinion, he’s the best young quarterback in football. We’re fortunate to have him. Why wouldn’t I be in a good mood every time I am around him?”

Carr made great progress working with Downing the past two years, and was an MVP candidate in 2016. Downing sees continued room for growth and refinement as next season approaches.

“I think Derek made big strides in 2016, just in terms of his command of the offense, being the field general, being able to get through progressions more efficiently,” Downing said. “His footwork took big strides. I certainly want him to remain focused on all of those attributes. You don’t want to feel like you’ve arrived in a certain area of your game and then have it go backwards when the next season starts. Certainly, I want him focused on all of those.”