Raiders QB Connor Cook

When a quarterback is the X-factor for a playoff team, something has gone wrong. In the Raiders’ case, it was multiple somethings: Outstanding starter Derek Carr fractured his leg in Week 16, then backup Matt McGloin injured his shoulder in Week 17. Enter Cook, who will make his first career NFL start ... in a road playoff game, against the Texans’ No. 2-ranked pass defense.

Is it possible this actually works out for Oakland? Perhaps, at least in the Cook-McGloin comparison bubble. As the Raiders showed in Week 17 pre-McGloin injury, their plan with the veteran backup was to play it rather safe and hope their run game and/or defense could carry the load. They will lean on those elements in Houston, but Cook just so happens to throw a nice deep ball. If nothing else, based on what he did at Michigan State, Cook can try to stretch the field vertically with Amari Cooper.

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