Football

Quarterback play will be critical in Raiders-Texans playoff game

Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler will be back under center three weeks after being benched for Tom Savage, who up until that game had never started. Savage is out with a concussion.
Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler will be back under center three weeks after being benched for Tom Savage, who up until that game had never started. Savage is out with a concussion. AP

No. 5 Raiders (12-4) at No. 4 Texans (9-7)

3:30 p.m., ESPN, WFAA/8

Line: Texans by 4

Scouting report: In a league built on marquee matchups between big-name quarterbacks, fans have been spoiled by by the likes of Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers and others. The consequence for fans’ overindulgence comes in the form of a Connor Cook vs. Brock Osweiler playoff matchup. The last time Oakland quarterback Connor Cook started a football game, it was as a Michigan State Spartan against Alabama in last year’s Cotton Bowl. Now, following injuries to MVP candidate Derek Carr (broken leg) and backup Matt McGloin (shoulder), the rookie fourth-round pick will make his first career start in Oakland’s first playoff game in 14 years. No quarterback in league history has been thrust into such a scenario.

On the opposite sideline, Houston’s $72 million quarterback Brock Osweiler will be back under center three weeks after being benched for Tom Savage, who is sidelined with a concussion. In Osweiler’s corner will be a defense allowing a league-low 301.3 yards per game, led by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who has 16 tackles for loss and six sacks on the year. Cook will have plenty of help with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, who became the first pair of Raiders receivers to gain 1,000 yards since Jerry Rice and Tim Brown in 2001. Oakland, under the direction of a more-seasoned Carr, beat Houston 27-20 in a Week 11 matchup in Mexico City.

Key stat: Houston is 7-1 at home this season. The Raiders have not won a road playoff game since 1980.

No. 6 Lions (9-7) at No. 3 Seahawks (10-5-1)

7 p.m., KXAS/5

Line: Seahawks by 8

Scouting report: The city of Detroit is no stranger to bailouts from Washington, and after dropping three consecutive games, the Lions received one in the form of a Redskins loss to the New York Giants. The loss guaranteed the Lions a playoff spot despite losing the division to Green Bay. The Lions will travel to Seattle to face a Seahawks team that has won a playoff game in four consecutive postseasons, and has been on two Super Bowl runs since quarterback Russell Wilson entered the league in 2012. While the Seahawks hold a superior postseason pedigree compared to Detroit, which is 0-8 in the playoffs since 1992, Seattle will enter the postseason without winning back-to-back games since Week 11.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was drafted first overall in 2009, has yet to add a playoff win to his impressive statistical résumé. Stafford has shown resilience all year, winning an NFL-record eight games after trailing in the fourth quarter. However, since dislocating his middle finger four weeks ago, Stafford has thrown three touchdowns with five interceptions, compared to 19 touchdowns and five interceptions before the injury. The Seahawks and their largely intact core from their prior Super Bowl appearances have a 4-0 home playoff record since 2012.

Key stat: Including the playoffs, Matthew Stafford is 5-45 in his career against teams that finished with a winning record.

  Comments