COLE’S NOTES: Wildcard 1—pick Texans and Seahawks
NFL Fans, it's WILD CARD WEEKEND! Two days of playoff football to decide who makes it to the divisional round and who is going home.
In this note we will discuss Saturday's games in depth and you'll get my Super Bowl prediction. Here's a hint: it'll be the same prediction that I made before the season started.
Let's start at the top of the schedule: the fifth seed Oakland Raiders go into Houston to take on the Texans. Kickoff at 4:35 p.m.
The biggest storyline in this game is the battle of the quarterbacks, but not the usual conversation you'd hear when talking about playoff football.
The Raiders will be starting their third string rookie Connor Cook, who will be making his first ever NFL start. The Texans will be going back to their 72 million dollar man, Brock Osweiler, after benching him for the kid from The Wonders Years. Ok, it's Tom Savage who they had turned to but every time someone says his name I picture the child actor Fred Savage.
This game will act as the perfect tests on both sides of the field. For Mr. Osweiler, this is the exact moment for which he got paid a big contract. Lead the Texans deeper into the playoffs than they have ever been, and use whatever experience you gained by sitting on the bench and watching the greatest quarterback of all time win last year's Super Bowl.
Theoretically Houston could win with Brock's usual 14 completion - 150 yards - 1 touchdown - 1 interception performance but that will require their defense to continue to hold the opposing team to less than 14 points, like they have had to do way too many times this year.
This game will also be a big test for the Oakland Raiders offensive line. All year long people have comparing them to other league leading lines (Dallas). Well here is your chance to prove it. You've got a rookie quarterback to protect. Best way to do so? RUN THE BALL.
If you are the line you think you are then Cook should be able to hand the ball off to Latavius Murray 25 times and be able to keep the game closer, or maybe even sneak out a win, with short/safe passes.
The Houston Texans are not a hard team to beat, you just can't help them by not playing fundamental football. I know it's easy to say that but the playbook should be really easy for Cook. Heck, the Texans won their division by playing with an easy playbook. it's all Osweiler could handle.
Although I do want Oakland to win, and I wouldn't be shocked if they did, I just think Houston's defense will play it's best game yet against a rookie QB. Houston wins 20-17.
Game 2 of the day sees the sixth seed Detroit Lions go into Seattle to play the Seahawks and the loudest crowd in the NFL - "The 12th Man".
After Calvin "Megatron" Johnson retired at the start of the year no one gave the Lions any sort of chance this season. Rightfully so because it was rare that Detroit would have a great offensive game, in the past, if Johnson didn't put up huge numbers himself.
Well as it turns out quarterback, Matthew Stafford, is way better than we thought. He proved that by playing a MVP caliber season with NO RUNNING GAME and a mostly no-name receive core.
Unfortunately for the Motor City, this is as far as Stafford will be able to lead the Lions. Going into Seattle is tough enough, doing so in the post season with no form of momentum, having lost their last three games all by at least a touchdown.
Some of that can be attributed to Stafford's finger injury, their best
cornerback in Darius Slay being hurt but the other factor is that they justaren't that good. No one is scared of them at any position and they can be beat in many different ways.
They will be beat by Seattle QB, Russell Wilson, picking them apart. He will be all over the field getting both of his tight ends involved, Doug Baldwin will have a good game, and that running game will be all over the field.
Seattle has just as much to prove this year after losing Marshawn
Lynch in the offseason and now playing without one of their best defenders in Earl Thomas. Are they still a Super Bowl contender? They think so. And they will do their best to put their skills on display.
Seahawks win this night time game at home 30-17.
Enjoy your Saturday Wild Card Game folks! Who do you think wins? Make your picks by clicking on the "Championship Playoff Football Pool" links posted all over this site.
P.S. At the start of the season I thought the "healthy" Green Back Packers would outscore Tom Brady and the Patriots in February's Super Bowl. Well the Packers aren't healthy, not even close, but I think they are just too hot right now to bet against them. It'll be the ultimate showdown between the best two quarterbacks in the league.
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