In a conference where only three of six quarterbacks in the postseason (Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Alex Smith) have started in a playoff game, many eyes will be on a game Saturday which has none: the Oakland Raiders visiting the Houston Texans.
Texans head coach Bill O'Brien announced Tuesday that Brock Osweiler will return as the starter after Tom Savage sustained a concussion in Sunday's loss to Tennessee. It's possible Savage will be cleared in time to be active for the game, but O'Brien wasn't about to go through several days of practice without his starter.
If Savage makes it through the concussion protocol, he will be Osweiler's backup against Oakland. If not, the No. 2 quarterback will be Brandon Weeden.
O'Brien was pleased with how Osweiler played Sunday coming off the bench against the Titans after Savage was injured.
"He played a good game. We just really watched that tape last night. You watch all the games when you're getting ready for a playoff opponent," O'Brien said. "But in that game, I thought Brock did a nice job of getting us into the right play. Got into a good rhythm. Guys ran good routes for him. He delivered the ball accurately. Threw it to the tight ends, the receivers, the backs. Everybody was involved in the passing game. Did a good job."
Out west, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio took his team away from their facility for a walkthrough where there was no access. While it is believed rookie Connor Cook will start in place of Matt McGloin, there has been no definitive word from Del Rio. McGloin sustained what has been said to be either a left shoulder or trapezius injury.
With regular starter Derek Carr out with a broken leg, the Raiders signed Garrett Gilbert to the practice squad Tuesday. If McGloin is unable to be the backup Saturday, Gilbert would presumably be signed to the active roster and forced into that role. Gilbert was on the Raiders' practice squad during the 2015 season, but was waived last May and hasn't been with another team since then.
Cook would become the first rookie quarterback to start a playoff game in the Super Bowl era.
O'Brien said of Cook, who replaced McGloin in Oakland's loss to Denver Sunday, "Good player, tall, good arm strength, smart, won a lot of games in college, so he's a winner. Very bright kid, so obviously just from watching him the other day there, he can run a pro offense. I think he's very capable of doing that.
"You don't have a lot of tape on him but the one thing you have to remember about the Raiders on offense is they have just an abundance of talent around him. It's going to be a big challenge for our defense."
PARTY TIME IN MIAMI
-- As the New York Giants reported back to work for Sunday's playoff game in Green Bay, the story making headlines was a trip to Miami several of the team's receivers made after Sunday's win over Washington.
Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Sterling Sharpe and Roger Lewis were at a nightclub partying at a nightclub with Justin Bieber and photos of the shirtless group on a boat were on musician Trey Songz's Snapchat.
Head coach Ben McAdoo was repeatedly asked about it in his Monday media conference and said very little while noting it was the players' day off.
Quarterback Eli Manning made light of the story Tuesday when he said, "I think as a team we always pride ourselves on being well-prepared, so when I saw some of those pictures I was a little disappointed. Because obviously they didn't pack accordingly. They didn't have any shirts. All long pants. No shorts. No flip flops or anything. So I'm just disappointed in the packing and not being prepared for that situation.
"I was telling people I'm the one who took the picture," Manning said. "They just wouldn't let me in with my shirt off."
Prepared for the questioning, Manning seriously said, "I think what guys do on their off day is not a big deal. I saw it. I just kind of laughed. I knew I'd have to answer questions about it. I knew it would be a story. That's all I thought about it."
Running back Rashad Jennings said, "Look, it's the NFL. We're grown men out here. Relax. Everything's different if somebody doesn't show up for work. They were bright-eyed, ready to go (today), having fun. Perfect."
Songz posted an updated version of the picture to his Instagram on Wednesday, making light of Manning's joking claim to being the photographer:
A NEW SNAPPER
-- When Seattle hosts Detroit Saturday, the Seahawks will have a new long snapper after Nolan Frese sustained an ankle injury in Sunday's win over San Francisco and was placed on reserve/injured.
Frese continued playing despite the injury, and had a snap go over the head of punter Jon Ryan for a safety. Head coach Pete Carroll said, "He couldn't run at all, so he was just clomping around on a totally casted foot to get through the game."
The Seahawks signed Tyler Ott, who played three games earlier this season for the Bengals. Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka has actually had more missed extra points this season than field goals. He is 29-for-35 on point-after attempts and 33-for-37 on field goals.
Meanwhile, the Lions made some changes on their offensive line Tuesday, signing tackle/guard Garrett Reynolds to the 53-man roster and tackle Jason Weaver to the practice squad. They also gave tryouts to tackles Bryce Harris and Jeff Linkenbach.
Starting right tackle Riley Reiff was inactive for Sunday night's regular-season finale against Green Bay because of a hip injury. Then, replacement Corey Robinson injured his foot in the game and was placed on reserve/injured Tuesday. Cornelius Lucas replaced Robinson, and will likely start against Seattle if Reiff can't go.