Texans, Lions top O-line units to watch in Wild Card Weekend

NFL Network analyst and former Pro Bowl center Shaun O'Hara selects one AFC and one NFC offensive line unit to watch heading into Wild Card Weekend, breaking down what's on the line for each group, potential matchups and other significant factors.

AFC team: Houston Texans

The Texans are in the playoffs once again because of their defense. It'd be a great time for the offense to step up Saturday -- the unit scored an NFL-low 25 touchdowns this season, the fewest by a playoff team since 1978. With Tom Savage recovering from a concussion, Brock Osweiler was named the starter earlier in the week. One silver lining: The familiarity with Osweiler, who started 14 during the regular season, should make life a little easier for the offensive line. Left tackle Duane Brown and right tackle Chris Clark will wear the hard hats in this contest, as they try to keep Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack from wrecking the game. Mack has 11 sacks and 26 QB hits on the season, including one sack and two QB hits against the Texans in Week 11. Irvin recorded 3.5 sacks over four postseasons with the Seahawks.

Running back Lamar Miller is expected to be on the field for Houston after missing the last two games with an ankle injury. The Texans must lean on their 1,000-yard rusher, given the struggles the offense has endured with Osweiler under center. Osweiler ranked no higher than 25th in all major quarterback categories during his first year in Houston.

NFC team: Detroit Lions

Detroit is limping into the playoffs after losing its last three games, marking the first time in NFL history a team has lost three consecutive contests to end the regular season against playoff teams in its conference. Going up against Seattle's fifth-ranked defense on the road is going to be a tough task, especially when the Seahawks get the help of the 12s. From experience, CenturyLink Field is the loudest stadium in the NFL, and the Lions' O-line must be ready to execute a silent count for a majority of the game. It'll be crucial for Detroit to get off to a fast start to quiet the noise.

If the Lions want to earn their first playoff win since 1991, the Matthew Stafford-led offense must find a balance with Zach Zenner and the run game. To continue being a threat on the ground, the South Dakota State product is going to need help from the O-line. Unfortunately, Riley Reiff's battling a hip injury that kept him out of last week's bout with Green Bay. Corey Robinson stepped in at right tackle for that game, but he was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with a foot injury, which prompted the Lionsto sign OL Garrett Reynolds. Luckily, Reiff was seen participating in Thursday's practice, but Cornelius Lucas will get the start Saturday if Reiff can't go.

Detroit's tackles -- rookie Taylor Decker and Reiff/Lucas -- will have their hands full with Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. Avril has 26 QB hits and 11.5 sacks, while Bennett has five sacks and 19 QB hits despite missing five games with a knee injury. These two have been game wreckers for a while in this league, but sophomore Frank Clark has had a breakout season for the Seahawks. Clark had his first double-digit-sack campaign, and he and Avril finished tied for second in the league for the most sacks among teammate duos (21.5). (The only tandem to finish ahead of them was Arizona's Markus Golden and Chandler Jones with 23.5.)

Follow Shaun O'Hara on Twitter @ShaunOHara60.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.
gamepasswhite_horiz (1)

See all the Action

Replay every game all season.