The Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans finished with the two worst records in the AFC last season. Both teams are looking to turn things around in 2014, and they are set to face off against each other in Week 2.
Houston is coming off the worst season in the short history of the franchise. The Texans lost their final 14 games in 2013, but they did manage to win their Week 1 opener. Oakland missed the playoffs in another four-win season, and came up just short in their first game, losing to the New York Jets.
Both teams are led by new quarterbacks in 2014. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a 109.3 passer rating in his Texans debut, completing 14 of 22 passes for 206 yards and a score. The Raiders were expected to start the season with former Houston signal caller Matt Schaub as the starter, but he was beaten out for the job by rookie Derek Carr in the preseason. He didn’t commit any turnovers in his first game and completed two touchdown passes, though he only threw for 151 yards.
If Week 1 is any indication, the matchup between Houston and Oakland could be the lowest-scoring contest on the entire Week 2 schedule. The two teams combined to score 31 points last week, seven of which came off a blocked punt. The over/under at most Las Vegas casinos comes in at just 40 total points.
Oakland will need an improved running game if it wants to top the 14 points it scored against New York. Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew ran the ball 13 times for 26 yards. Houston totaled 115 rushing yards, but it took them 34 attempts to do so.
The Texans barely got a look at the No.1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft before he went down with an injury. Jadeveon Clowney won’t suit up because of a knee injury, and he’s expected to be out for several weeks.
Jones-Drew hopes to be on the field this Sunday, but it’s unclear whether the running back will be able to give it a go. A hand injury forced him to miss practice on Wednesday and Thursday, following a minor procedure that he underwent on his hand this week.
The betting line has moved in favor of the Texans as the week has moved along, making them three-point favorites on the road. In the last decade, the Raiders have been one of the worst NFL teams as home underdogs, failing to cover the point spread 31 out of 48 times.
Prediction: The Texans played well defensively in their opener, and the Raiders defense is sure to be better than last year, having revamped the unit in free agency. Carr was competent in his debut, and he should perform better with an improved running game in Week 2, putting both teams at 1-1 heading into Week 3.
Predicted Score: Oakland 20, Houston 17