Oakland Raiders Wild Card Preview: Houston Texans Defense

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Dec 4, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper (89) and running back Jalen Richard (30) celebrate after a 37-yard touchdown reception by Cooper in the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills during a NFL football game at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Bills 38-24. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Five weeks ago, the Oakland Raiders defeated the Houston Texans in front of a raucous crowd in Mexico City. Last time, Oakland left Mexico City with a 27-20 victory. Granted, that game was slightly closer than the one score result indicates. Since that night, the Texans tallied a 3-4 record. Despite their mediocre finish, the Texans defense rebounded late.

Stingy: From the final gun in Mexico City to the opening whistle after the kickoff, Houston’s defense stiffened considerably. They’ve surrendered more than twenty-one points only once (Week 17 vs. Tennessee). The quality of competition, save for the Jaguars also increased. Facing Carr, Rivers, Rodgers, Luck, and Dalton in five of your remaining seven games is no easy chore. How did they accomplish this? Tape displays a defense relaxed and at ease. The edges continue to wreak havoc and the linebackers are making plays.

McKinney: McKinney is the downhill ILB that most teams love. He destroys blocks with brute force. There is no retreat in his game. McKinney finished the regular season with 129 total tackles, ranking him 11th in the league. More impressive that that is McKinney’s five sacks. Frequently, may inside linebackers struggle with effective blitzing. However, McKinney gets home with regularity. The Raiders need to exploit his rigidity in space. To be sure, while McKinney does no retreat, he struggles laterally. Richard and Washington pose issues for him. Allow them. Recently, the strength of Oakland Raiders’ offense is the run game.


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Injuries: Currently, Houston lists four starters on in the injured list. LBs Brian Cushing and John Simon, CB Johnathan Joseph and DE Jadeveon Clowney are up in the air, in regards to Saturday availability.

Of this list, Clowney is the true difference maker. Unfortunately, he is most known for the one college hit, played incessantly. Conversely, he is finally putting his skills to use on the field, notching six sacks and residing in the nightmares of offensive tackles. What makes Clowney worrisome is his reach combined with burst. To put it another way, few perimeter players are as tall with that type of speed. Tackles rarely have time to ready themselves before he screams around the corner.

The Raiders have the advantage of mammoth offensive tackles that force Clowney a shade wider that he wants. The concern is right tackle, where teams seem to fest regularly. If Clowney plays, use the run to drain the bounce from his legs early.

All things considered, the Texans defense is battered like the Oakland Raiders’ offense. Yet, with the playoffs’ arrival, their injuries will become forgotten. This defense improved while facing elite quarterback, which means they will play better versus a backup or rookie.

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