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ESPN Kicks Off NFL Wild Card Weekend with Raiders vs. Texans

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Photos via ESPN Images

Airs Saturday, Jan. 7, at 4:20 p.m. ET on ESPN and ABC, ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN

ESPN will open the 2017 NFL Wild Card Weekend on Saturday, January 7, at 4:20 p.m. ET with the Oakland Raiders (12-4) vs. Houston Texans (9-7). The AFC matchup will air on ESPN and be simulcast on ABC. The game will also be available in Spanish on ESPN Deportes and streamed live on WatchESPN. Kickoff is 4:35 p.m. ET. (ESPN’s NFL Wild Card marketing spot)

Monday Night Football’s Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden and reporters Adam Schefter (Raiders) and Lisa Salters (Texans) will call the game from NRG Stadium in Houston. MNF producer Jay Rothman and director Chip Dean – working their 26th season together (11th on MNF) – will produce the Wild Card game. The ESPN Deportes team includes Eduardo Varela, Pablo Viruega and reporter John Sutcliffe.

Jon Gruden Previews the Raiders-Texans Wild Card Matchup:

On the Houston Texans…

The Texans, they deserve a tremendous amount of credit for winning a division title again. That’s hard to do. It’s hard to sustain success. I know people try to diminish their accomplishments with the AFC South – they don’t think it’s a juggernaut – but they did it without JJ Watt, (Kevin) Johnson – one of their top corners, they missed (Brian) Cushing and (Jadeveon) Clowney and (Whitney) Mercilus for periods of time and their defense has been awesome. I love watching them. And they’ve done it with inconsistent play at quarterback. This might be Bill O’Brien’s best coaching job considering all the injuries they’ve had. They are a mentally-tough team, just like their head coach. They are going to be a hard team to beat. After last year’s performance in the playoffs, I think you are going to see a much-improved Texans team on Saturday.

On the Oakland Raiders…

As an alum of the Raiders, it’s good to see them back in the postseason. They have done a nice job adding quality free agents, not only players, but men with a pedigree, winners – two world champions on the defense with Bruce Irvin and Malcolm Smith coming over from Seattle. Smith is their leading tackler and Irvin is as much of a playmaker as Khalil Mack on the tapes that I see. Throw in Reggie Nelson, a perennial playoff player, in the middle of this defense. They have also added some big-time players to the offensive line – (Kelechi) Osemele and (Rodney) Hudson to name a couple. They are a very good team. They have had a couple of nice drafts, they’ve added quality free agents and they took the world by storm. It’s unfortunate (Derek) Carr got hurt, but they’re going to have to rally around young Connor Cook it appears.

On Raiders quarterback Connor Cook, who was part of Gruden’s QB Camp in 2016

I liked Cook coming out of Michigan State. I think he’s a gunslinger. I don’t think he threw a bunch of bubble screens in college like you see on Saturdays. He was aggressive. He handled a lot of volume coming out of the huddle at the line of scrimmage. It was an extensive offense. He was a finisher too. He went back to East Lansing, finished his career. I give him a lot of credit for that, and he won. That’s why I really liked him. His arm talent is very good. He just has some Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde in his play that he needs to clean up. He’s inconsistent and he showed that a little last week against Denver. He has to take better care of the ball and be a top-notch decision-maker, and he’s got to prove that he can do that for 60 minutes.

On Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler …

He’s got to take better care of the ball. He’s thrown way too many interceptions. A lot of those interceptions, the primary target is DeAndre Hopkins. So it’s clear he’s trying to get him the ball, sometimes too hard. The Texans also have to get more accuracy from him. He’s missed some throws that he should hit. A lot of it has to do with the Texans offensive line. They are struggling upfront. Outside of Hopkins, there’s not a clear-cut No. 2 receiver. Lamar Miller has also been hurt at running back, so they haven’t had a lot to count on. It’s been a hard year for this offensive coaching staff and for Osweiler.

On the Raiders being back in the playoffs …

It’s a very elite crowd that makes the NFL playoffs. It’s hard to get in there. It’s good to have the Raiders back in the playoffs. The Silver and Black is a recognizable brand that’s accustomed to doing a lot of great things. With Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and some of the free agents they’ve acquired, hopefully they can continue to build on this. But, it’s really about what you do when you get to the playoffs. It’s not just about getting there.

On the increased pressure in the NFL playoffs …

It’s added pressure. The speed of the game is faster. Everything is heightened. Third and one calls, the decisions you make. Do we punt on fourth down or go for it? Everything becomes magnified. Some players and coaches are more composed than others. I was consistent – I was a basket-case in the preseason, the regular season and the postseason. 

 

Suzy Kolber Hosts ESPN/ABC Wild Card Pregame Show from NRG Stadium – 3 p.m. ET

Leading into Raiders-Texans, Suzy Kolber will host a special Postseason NFL Countdown (3 p.m., ESPN and ABC) live from NRG Stadium with analysts Trent Dilfer, Matt Hasselbeck, Randy Moss and Charles Woodson. Chris Berman will co-host from Bristol. Salters and Schefter will provide team updates. Reporter Britt McHenry (Raiders-Texans) and NFL Insider Ed Werder (Lions-Seahawks) will also provide updates on Saturday’s Wild Card games.

SportsCenter follows the Wild Card game on ESPN with Steve Levy, Dilfer, Hasselbeck, Moss and Woodson at the stadium, offering analysis, interviews and more from Raiders-Texans.

Other ESPN NFL shows airing Saturday, Jan. 7:

  • NFL Matchup (3 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. on ESPN; 9:30 a.m. on ESPN2) with Sal Paolantonio, Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski.
  • NFL Championship Chase: Wild Card Weekend (11 a.m. on ESPN2 and 2 p.m. on ABC) chronicles the season so far for each of the eight teams playing on Wild Card weekend.
  • Wendi Nix hosts an early one-hour Postseason NFL Countdown at 12 p.m. on ESPN from Bristol with Herm Edwards, Tim Hasselbeck and Merril Hoge.
  • NFL PrimeTime (following Lions-Seahawks) with host Trey Wingo, Tim Hasselbeck and Hoge.

ESPN’s NFL Wild Card Weekend Schedule for Saturday, Jan. 7:

Date Time (ET) Program Network(s)
Sat, Jan 9 3 a.m.

5:30 a.m.

NFL Matchup ESPN

(Re-air: ESPN2 at 9:30 a.m.)

  11 a.m. NFL Championship Chase: Wild Card Weekend ESPN2
12 p.m. Postseason NFL Countdown ESPN
  2 p.m. NFL Championship Chase: Wild Card Weekend ABC
  3 p.m. Postseason NFL Countdown ESPN, ABC
  4:20 p.m. NFL Wild Card Game:

Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans

(Kickoff: 4:35 p.m.)

ESPN, ABC, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes
7:25 p.m. SportsCenter ESPN
12 a.m. NFL PrimeTime ESPN

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