Sebastian Janikowski has taken a week of abuse after squandering a golden opportunity to deliver a winning record to the Oakland Raiders. While it would have been a modest one game over .500 at just three weeks into the season, it would have been the best start the Silver and Black have enjoyed since beginning 2005 2004 (hat tip to JBB reader Mike Hayes) by winning 2 of the first three contests.
That is all in the past.
While Seabass has taken the brunt of the blame, it was the inept performance of the offense in the red zone and the collapse of the special teams on the opening kick that were the biggest culprits in the loss. Oh…those 11 flags on the field that netted a total of 123 yards in penalties didn’t help either.
Tom Cable has got the 2010 Raiders playing as good a football as we’ve seen in the East Bay in some time (De La Salle notwithstanding). Now is the time to put it all together.
Once again, the defense will play a large factor in the contest as they’ll be pitted with the task of slowing one of the NFL’s most prolific offenses.
All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson will be a gameday decision but Coach Cable is counting on the Texans to take the field with their dynamic playmaker in pads ready to go. The old nemesis of the Silver and Black defense will also factor heavily. That’s right, stopping the run is once again priority number one.
Unlike pervious Texan teams, this one features a dominant ground game led by breakout fantasy stud Arian Foster.
But two can play that game.
Houston’s defense has been one of the worst in football especially against the pass. Bruce Gradkowski has certainly made Cable look like a genius by making the move to switch from Jason Campbell but much more production will be expected this week in a game that could become a shootout.
After converting just over 25% of their third downs against the Arizona Cardinals one week ago, Bruce Almighty will need to get his offense moving the chains with more consistency. More importantly he needs to get his team in the end zone when the Raiders line up in the red zone.
Darren McFadden’s breakout season has been a revelation but he alone cannot shoulder the burden. Run-DMC’s emergence has opened up the entire playbook for Hue Jackson and has even helped to turn Darrius Heyward-Bey into Gradkowski’s favorite target. That could also be an important factor with Louis Murphy nursing a sore clavicle.
The last time these two teams tangled in Oakland it was the hapless Raiders who spoiled the Houston hopes of the playoffs. This time around the Raiders are looking to rain on the early parade of praise that many think will march the Texans into the postseason for the first time in their existence.
With pressure mounting, there is only one result that will give Coach Cable a drama free week without job speculation.
Just Win Baby!