After losing starting quarterback Derek Carr in Week 16 to a broken fibula and backup quarterback Matt McGloin in Week 17, the 12-4 Raiders will reportedly be forced to ride the arm of rookie QB Connor Cook into their first playoff matchup in 14 years when they face the Houston Texans on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday’ game will be Cook’s first NFL start. Cook took over for McGloin in Week 17 after he was forced from the game against the Broncos with a should injury. In relief, Cook completed 14 of 21 passes for 150 yards, including a touchdown and an interception in a losing effort.
The Raiders selected Cook with the 100th pick in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft and actually moved up through a trade with the Cleveland Browns to grab the 23-year-old quarterback from Michigan State.
Cook had an impressive collegiate career and led Michigan State to Big Ten championship wins in 2013 and 2015, as well as a Rose Bowl win over the Stanford Cardinals in 2014. In each of those games — two Big Ten championships games and the Rose Bowl game — Cook was named either MVP or offensive MVP for his performance.
While Cook lacks NFL experience and is obviously a major drop off from the Carr, who was in the middle of an MVP-caliber season, Cook’s cross-field rival at QB isn’t exactly Joe Montana himself.
Cook will either be facing off against the much-maligned Brock Osweiler or third-year quarterback Tom Savage, who has two career starts to his name and no playoff experience.
The Raiders and Texans kick off the NFL’s Wild Card Weekend on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 1:35 p.m. PT.