In tonight’s chapter of the NFL’s Monday Night Football, the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders will face-off in a matchup of potential AFC playoff teams in an exciting international game, in Mexico City, Mexico.
The NFL is taking the show on the road featuring two teams who might be going to the playoffs, Oakland will be fighting hard to continue their winning streak against a Texans team that as of today hold first place in the AFC South. The game also features one of the league’s finest young quarterbacks, who will want to put on a show for their Mexican audience.
Raiders QB Derek Carr has always been a pretty good young quarterback, by now he is considered elite, improving over the past two seasons. In 2016, he’s led his Raiders to a 7-2 record through ten weeks, and that’s their best record in nearly 15 years. The Raiders have not had a playoffs appearance since 2002, but many are sure that it will be a different story this season.
Back in Houston, the Texans put a lot of coin in to get quarterback Brock Osweiler onto their team this past off-season. Osweiler, has in the past shown flashes of brilliance, but this year, and in his seven starts for the Denver Broncos last year, he struggled badly, and has not been able to solidify his role as the main man in Houston this year. The Texans though were able to win despite his lagging play, but as the post-season gets closer they will want him to step up his again starting tonight against a Raiders team that is definitely the better squad on both sides of the ball.
The game will be played at a neutral site, at re Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, and the exciting part is that the game features the highest winning percentage and records among the two teams of any international game played this season (the other two in London England). So the TV ratings should be high, as the fans’s expectations. Both teams are very capable to put points on the board and score. The Raiders secondary though has been quite inconsistent this season, so if Osweiler can get it revved up, this game could be very close and cover the six point spread.
Many experts think that Oakland will win this one, but on neutral ground anything can happen, and the difference might be just a field goal. The Raiders have a blitz-happy defense that will give Osweiler a lot of trouble, so expect Khalil Mack to get a sack or two against Houston tonight. The Texans will need their running back Lamar Miller to be in full form, and to spark the team early so they can keep up with the Raiders high-octane offense, and keep their points off the scoreborard. It’s a tall order if they cannot run the ball, so they better hit the ground running or it’ll be a long day for the Texans and their fans.
“I see a lot of similarities,” said Jon Gruden will watch from the ESPN broadcast. “No. 1, it starts on the offensive line. We liked bigger people than most teams and the offensive line of the Raiders is massive. They’re fun to watch.”
The Raiders are fourth in the league in rushing at 127.8 yards per game, allowing the fewest sacks in the league, with only 11 through their first nine games. “I love the fact that they’re getting the credit they deserve,” said running back Latavius Murray, who already has a career-high eight rushing touchdowns. “It starts with them, so the credit should start with them too.”
The Texans do have a solid defense even if they’ll be without star defensive end J.J. Watt. Houston has the fourth-ranked total defense and ranks third in the league against the pass rush. “I think the Raiders offensive line against the Houston Texans defensive line is worth the ticket alone,” Gruden said.
So with the stage set for the Raiders to make major statement on national television, you can expect that they will. After passing with flying colours in their first prime time test this season, there’s a general feeling that this team knows how to be ready and live for the moment.
“We’ve been very purposeful in approaching each game one at a time, really understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each opponent,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “We have a healthy respect for every team we go against, but we’re not fearing anybody. So, it’s all about us and our preparation leading up to the game. Whether it’s here at home in front of our great fans or whether it’s down somewhere else on the road. Even an international setting like Mexico City, which we know will be awesome, but it still comes down to our preparation leading up to playing a good game.”
A massive crowd of 87,000 should make tons of noise, and like them, keeping the Raiders’ offense quiet will be difficult.
“We kind of expect it to be like a road game for the offense and special teams and home game for the defense in that our crowd is going to be really loud,” Raiders coach Jack Louis Del Rio Jr. said. “It’s going to be loud the whole time regardless of what side of the ball you’re on.”