The Oakland Raiders went 12-4 this season. It was their best season since 2002, when they reached the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, they will limp into the playoffs without Derek Carr, who was an MVP candidate before breaking his fibula in Oakland’s Week 16 win over the Colts.
The Raiders lost at Denver, 24-6, on Sunday and play the Texans (9-7) in Houston this Saturday at 4:35 p.m. ET.
“It’s a shame, really, because it’s a dream Raiders season for a franchise that is just starved for success,” Bleacher Report NFL writer Sean Tomlinson said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “And now to kick off the playoffs, we have the Matt McGloin versus Brock Osweiler slugfest. As far as the Texans are concerned, even without J.J. Watt, they still have a quality defense – the top-ranked defense in the league – but Brock Osweiler is so incredibly inaccurate. He makes so many poor decisions. The only way the Texans even have a hope to me is to turn around and pound the ball with (Lamar) Miller. Is he fully healthy yet? He’s going to play, but he probably won’t be his true self out there. Even at home – and even against Matt McGloin – I just don’t see it for the Texans at all. It’s going to be a bit of a letdown for entertainment value, I think.”
The same could be said for Dolphins/Steelers. Pittsburgh (11-5) is favored by 10 points over Miami (10-6), which, in its first playoff game since 2008, will start Matt Moore at quarterback.
Do the Dolphins have a chance?
“I don’t think much of one,” Tomlinson said. “Just how insanely hot that Pittsburgh offense has been, you need to be able to sort of match the firepower that the Steelers can put out there with what Bell is doing. He’s averaging about 130 yards of scrimmage per game. Obviously we know the connection between Brown and Roethlisberger. Matt Moore, he is one of the better backups in the league. There’s a trust factor there. He’s safe. There’s some whispers that perhaps Tannehill could be healthy this Sunday, but Adam Gase would have to completely trust him to be able to escape pressure in the pocket. I think that game will be entertaining, but ultimately, I don’t think the Dolphins will have quite enough.”
That game kicks off Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET.
The NFL likely saved the best for last this weekend, as the Giants (11-5) will face the Packers (10-6) at Lambeau Field this Sunday at 4:40 p.m. ET. New York has a lights-out defense, but the Packers have won six straight games behind the heroics of Aaron Rodgers.
“Can the Giants secondary with Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins play at a high level?” Tomlinson asked. “That is really where the difference will be and how the Giants have a chance to win. But at Lambeau Field in January, that’s a tough ask.”