The Houston Texans are set to host the Oakland Raiders in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Kickoff is set for 4:35 EST on Saturday at NRG Stadium and will be televised on ESPN/ABC. Oddsmakers have Houston listed as a 3.5-point favorite withe the total at 36.5 points.

Raiders vs Texans Vegas Betting Preview

Oakland (12-4) goes into the playoffs off an ugly 6-24 loss at Denver in Week 17. It was the Raiders first game without Derek Carr and it wasn’t pretty offensively. Oakland totaled just 221 yards and 11 first downs. They also turned it over 3 times. It didn’t help that Carr’s backup Matt McGloin went down with an injury in the 1st half. The loss combined with the Chiefs win, moved Oakland from the No. 2 seed and a first round bye to the No. 5 seed.

Houston (9-7) fell 17-24 at Tennessee on Sunday in a meaningless game. The Texans had already clinched the AFC South the week before and were locked into the No. 4 seed. Unfortunately for Houston they also had their starting QB go down. Tom Savage, who replaced Brock Osweiler as the starter, suffered a concussion. His status is up in the air and the Texans have already named Osweiler the starter against the Raiders.

These two teams met back in Week 11 on Monday Night Football in Mexico City. Houston led 17-10 early in the 3rd and 20-13 early in the 4th, but lost 20-27.

Free Pick & Odds Predictions: Texans -3.5

I actually think there’s some decent value here with Houston at this line. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a big fan of this Texans team. I don’t think there’s any arguing they are by far the worst of the 8 division winners. With that said, I believe they can take care of business against the Raiders at home.

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This all comes down to Oakland playing without Carr. As I stated last week in my preview, you just don’t lose an MVP-caliber player and not suffer a setback. Especially at the quarterback position. Without Carr, this Raiders team would have been lucky to win 4-games. Keep in mind that 10 of their 12 wins came by 10-points or less. Several of which he made the difference with big plays when it mattered most in the 4th quarter.

As we saw against the Broncos, the offense was a shell of itself. I know Denver has one of the more respected defenses in the league, but they were missing a lot of key players. That same Broncos defense gave up 33 points and 484 yards the previous week the Chiefs. I just don’t see it getting any better on the road against a very talented Texans defense.

Oakland doesn’t even know who their starting quarterback is going to be at this point. McGloin may or may not be able to play through a shoulder injury. If he can’t go it’s rookie Connor Cook, who has about as little experience as you can have at this point in the season.

The Raiders will try to focus more on their running game, but Houston will be ready for that. The Texans are going to load the box and force either McGloin or Cook to beat them. Houston only allowed Oakland to rush for 30 yards on 20 attempts in the meeting earlier this season. Carr was the difference in that game, going 21 of 31 for 295 yards and 3 scores.

It’s no secret the Texans don’t have a great offense. However, this is a team they can have success against. Even with Osweiler at quarterback. Oakland was 23rd against the run and 24th against the pass. Houston had 124 rushing yards and Osweiler threw for 243 in the earlier matchup.

I think the Texans offense is capable of putting up 20+ points here. They should have great field position the majority of the game. At the same, I don’t know that Oakland can score 14 points. As long as this line is less than a touchdown, I think the value is with Houston.