Oakland Raiders (12-4) (Five-Seed)
First match-up: at Houston in the Wild Card Round
Had the KC Chiefs not taken care of business against the Chargers in the regular season finale, they’d have been the ones traveling to Houston to face the mess that is the Texans. Instead, the Raiders get that honor, and this is going to be one of the worst playoff games ever.
Oakland was cruising in 2016 behind quarterback Derek Carr, who was leading the black and silver to heights they hadn’t seen in well over a decade. The offense was high-powered and constantly putting up points and the defense was doing just enough to get by.
All of that changed in their Christmas Eve game against the Colts.
The Raiders will be starting [Conner] Cook in their first playoff game in 14 years. Not much else needs to be said.
Carr was injured on a play when the Raiders already had a large lead. As soon as he was tackled, he kept saying what looked like, “It’s broke” (referring to his leg). It was revealed later that he had a broken fibula and would be out indefinitely.
The injury pretty much ended the Raiders’ season, even though they made it into the playoffs for the first time since 2002. They’ll now have to travel to Houston with Connor Cook starting for them.
Oh, where’d Conner Cook come from, you ask? Well, Matt McGloin started their final game of the season against their Broncos, a game in which they had to win in order to win the AFC West, and looked horrendous. He also got injured in that game and Cook had to relieve him.
If Miami were to win, the Raiders would travel to Kansas City for the divisional round.
So yeah, the Raiders will be starting Cook in their first playoff game in 14 years. Not much else needs to be said.
Even if Derek Carr had been starting for Oakland, I don’t think they’d have made it as far as people were predicting. They’d likely have had the two-seed, yes, but the Raiders defense isn’t playoff caliber yet. The Patriots and Steelers would have scored all over them and put them out of their misery.
Anyway, the Chiefs could face the Raiders in the playoffs. First off, Oakland would obviously have to beat Houston. They could then either see the Chiefs in the divisional round or in the championship round, depending on how the Steelers/Dolphins game goes.
If Miami were to win, the Raiders would travel to Kansas City for the divisional round. If Pittsburgh wins, Oakland would have to beat New England, and that would then mean they’d have to travel to Arrowhead for the AFC Championship Game. I don’t see Oakland making it that far, but you never know. That would be a pretty intense match-up.