In the spirit of the holidays, we all have that one sibling or relative that has alligator arms and doesn’t like to spend money on gifts. But, we also have that one sibling or relative that always gives great presents. I feel that way about the Wildcard Playoffs this weekend. The NFC is a great present to NFL fans. The AFC is a $10 gift card for Starbucks. It’s not what you want, but you will use it or in this case, watch it.
AFC Wildcard Preview/Prediction:
Oakland Raiders (12-4) at Houston Texans (9-7): The NFL is all about being progressive, adapting and changing the rules to make the game better. How in the hell can a team that went 12-4 go on the road to face a team that went 9-7? The Division winner should not host a playoff game if their record is worse than the Wildcard team. This game will be one of the most boring playoff matchups in the history of the NFL. QB Derek Carr was in the MVP hunt before his season-ending injury in Week 15. Under Carr the Raiders were 7th in scoring, averaging 26.6 points and 6th in total yards, averaging 373 per game. You can’t replace a starting QB that threw for over 3,900 yards had 28 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. When the Raiders play on Saturday in Houston, they’ll be doing something that no other team in NFL history has ever done: playing a rookie quarterback (Connor Cook), who’s making his first career start. The good news for Raiders fans is that the Texans don’t have a lot on film on the former Michigan State standout.
The Texans have their own issues, once again they are without J.J. Watt and is it safe to say that Jadeveon Clowney is a bust. The former 1st round pick in 2014 had 40 tackles on the season. After signing Brock Osweiler to a huge free agent contract the Texans benched him for Tom Savage. Unfortunately for Houston fans, Savage has a concussion and will not be available this weekend. Osweiler has completed just 59% of his passes with a disappointing 15 TDs and 16 INTs on the season.
Prediction: The Raiders have too many weapons on offense and should win this game. I think Cook will play good enough to win. WR’s Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper combined for 172 catches, over 2100 yards and 13 TD’s. Latavius Murray has got to run the ball for close to 100 yards.
Take the Raiders in an ugly game 20-13.
Miami Dolphins (10-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5):
The Dolphins are making their first postseason trip since 2008 under first-year head coach Adam Gase. Backup QB, Matt Moore is in his 9th season but has never taken a playoff snap. In week 6, Jay Ajayi rushed for 204 yards in the Dolphins 30-15 victory over Pittsburgh. Last week the Dolphins got embarrassed at home by the Patriots 35-14.
The Steelers have now made the playoffs for three straight seasons. There is no better “Big 3 “ in the NFL than Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell. Despite playing in only 12 games due to a suspension, Bell rushed for 1,268 yards and caught 75 passes. If he played the full season he would be AFC offensive player of the year.
Prediction: For the Dolphins to win they must control the ball and time of possession. Ajayi must rush for over 150 yards and be the best player on the field. “Big Ben is making is 18 playoffs start, he has a record of 11-6 and two Super Bowl victories. Over the past 20 years, there have only been three “game managers” at QB to win the Super Bowl… Trent Dilfer 2000, Brad Johnson 2003 and Peyton Manning last season. QB’s win in this league. The Dolphins have been overrated all year long. They get exposed Sunday.
Steelers Win 30-17.
Follow The Sports Whisperer on Twitter: Montetjwitter11