Even though the Oakland Raiders were unable to clinch the AFC West last week against the Denver Broncos, the team is ready to begin the playoffs. The Silver and Black have been preparing for the Houston Texans all week, and will put their work to the test Saturday afternoon at 1:35 p.m. PST.
NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, will play host to the AFC Wild Card game which will feature two stout defenses with athletic pass rushers. The Raiders rushing attack finished the season eighth overall with 1,922 total yards and 120.1 yards per game, but the Texans defense ranked 12th in rushing yards allowed, only giving up 99.7 yards on the ground to opposing teams.
Prior to kickoff, let's take a look back at the Week that Was.
**Here's a look at this week's edition of The Silver & Black Show that features the likes of Head Coach Jack Del Rio, center Rodney Hudson, and more.
Oakland Raiders Look To Reignite Run Game Against Houston Texans
Fifty-seven yards on the ground just isn't going to cut it, especially in the playoffs.
After racking up over 100 yards on the ground in four consecutive games, the Oakland Raiders trio of running backs were limited to just 57 yards on 15 carries in Sunday's loss to the Denver Broncos, and that inability to get things rolling on the ground proved to be detrimental to the offense as a whole.
Head Coach Jack Del Rio continually preaches the importance of offensive balance – something that has been evident in nearly all of the Raiders 12 wins this season – but with the running game looking uncharacteristically out of sorts against the Broncos, there really wasn't much balance to find Sunday afternoon in Colorado, and as a result, the team was only able to manufacture six points in the loss to the Broncos.
"Like I said postgame, give props to Denver," said rookie running back DeAndré Washington. "They did a good job bottling us up, but that's over with now. We're looking forward to the Texans."
The Silver and Black's running backs will have their work cut out for them once again Saturday afternoon when they square off against a Houston Texans defense that held them to just 35 rushing yards in the team's Week 11 meeting in Mexico City.
Connor Cook Named Starter For Wild Card Matchup Against Houston Texans
In the end, Head Coach Jack Del Rio elected to go with health over experience.
Less than two weeks after being listed as the third quarterback on the Oakland Raiders depth chart, and just three days after making his NFL debut against the Denver Broncos, Connor Cook will be the starting quarterback when the Silver and Black take on the Houston Texans Saturday afternoon at NRG Stadium.
"We are going to start Connor this weekend," said Head Coach Jack Del Rio Wednesday afternoon. "We want him to just be himself and go out and do what he can do, and then want our team to go out and do what it can do."
Not only will Cook start the first Raiders playoff game in 14 years, but he'll also make a little bit of history himself, as he'll become the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to make his first career start in a postseason game.
MMQB Names Khalil Mack Defensive Player of the Year & Reggie McKenzie As Executive of the Year
Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was the Oakland Raiders.
General Manager Reggie McKenzie has spent the last four years constructing a team that's about to play its first playoff game in 14 seasons. For a franchise that's been hungry to win, McKenzie never rushed the process of establishing a foundation for a team that wants to contend for a Super Bowl.
2016 free agent acquisitions like safety Reggie Nelson and linebacker Bruce Irvinhave helped bolster a Raiders defense that is tied for the league lead in takeaway differential ( 16). After losing veteran safety Charles Woodson a season ago, the added leadership of Nelson and Irvin has helped a young team grow in its maturation.
Undrafted free agent finds like running back Jalen Richard and fullback Jamize Olawale have proved to be effective in an already dangerous Raiders offensive attack. Obviously McKenzie's 2014 picks of defensive end Khalil Mack and quarterback Derek Carr will be cornerstone pieces to the franchise for years to come, but his patience and ability to find talent lurking under the surface have attributed to the Silver and Black's recent success.
Key Matchups To Watch: Oakland Raiders vs. Houston Texans
The Silver and Black are back in the playoffs.
After a 14-year postseason hiatus, the Oakland Raiders will take on the Houston Texans Saturday afternoon at NRG Stadium in the Wild Card round of the AFC playoffs.
With Connor Cook now at the helm of the Raiders offense, Saturday's game now has another layer of added intrigue, so before kickoff, let's take a look at some key matchups that will be crucial in the end result of the playoff clash.
Khalil Mack And Kelechi Osemele Named Associated Press First-Team All-Pro
Last season the Oakland Raiders had one player named an Associated Press first-team All-Pro, this year they have two, as both defensive end Khalil Mack and guard Kelechi Osemele have been given the accolade.
Mack – who was also named first-team All-Pro, at not one, but two positions last season – has totaled 11 sacks in 2016, as well as 77 total tackles, one interception, four passes defensed, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and one touchdown.
His 11 fourth quarter sacks since 2015 leads the NFL, as do his four, fourth quarter forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries.
Once again, he was also Pro Football Focus' highest-graded overall edge defender as well.
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