On a conference call with Houston media, coach Jack Del Rio confirmed that the third-string quarterback will be under center with Derek Carr recovering from a fractured fibula and Matt McGloin battling an injury to his trapezius muscle.
"We trust him to go out there and lead us," Del Rio said, via the Houston Chronicle.
The fourth-round rookie will join Minnesota's Joe Webb (2012) and Denver's Gus Frerotte (2000) as the only quarterbacks this century to start their first game of the season in the playoffs, per NFL Research.
Cook completed 14 of 21 passes for 150 yards, a touchdown and an interception in just over two quarters of action at Denver in the regular-season finale. While the former Michigan State star showed a live arm and made a couple of "wow" throws in relief of McGloin, he also fumbled twice and nearly added a second interception.
"He's tall, he can see the field. He's just confident out there," wide receiver Amari Cooper said of Cook's debut. "He was just ripping it, making throws, stepping up in the pocket. I think he did a really good job."
Despite Cooper's optimism, the Texans' league-leading total defense is looking forward to harassing the inexperienced quarterback.
"I hope we blitz him all game," defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said Tuesday, via Houston's KHOU. "I don't know, that's up to the coaches. We just have to put a lot of pressure on him, make him throw some bad balls, force some turnovers and try to get our offense in good field position."
Oakland is relying upon a neophyte rookie while Houston is starting a quarterback benched by two different coaching staffs in two different late-season playoff pushes. This battle is shaping up as a defensive showcase, just as Clowney would have it.