Go ahead and chalk this one up to my extreme case of Raider Myopia. It might sound strange but it’s true. The Raiders’ playoff chances could rest on the leg of Shane Lechler and if he’s unable to play Sunday then those hopes could go from slim to none.
Super Shane is without a doubt the best punter in the league and is pushing one Ray Guy for the title of G.O.A.T. After suffering a hamstring injury on Sunday, Lechler is scheduled to undergo an MRI today and it is rumored that the team could bring in a punter off the street as an insurance policy.
Ok, so the reality is the Raiders aren’t in control of their playoff destiny. We know this. But they’ve still got to go out and take care of business if they have any designs on playing postseason football.
Where Lechler becomes so important to the cause relates to the next two opponents the Raiders face. Both Indianapolis and Kansas City feature explosive offenses. What is the best way to slow a top tier offense? Pin them deep in their own territory.
So often the game of football boils down to the small things. One of those small things took place during Sunday’s win over Denver. While the Donkey offense is about as inept as Sarah Palin in a library, they were greatly frustrated by having to start drives deep inside Bronco country. One such occasion resulted in a safety for the Silver and Black defense.
Now, the Raiders will have to do what they do best which is dominate the line of scrimmage and run the rock to keep Peyton Manning and Matt Cassel off the field. However it is Shane’s Sunday specials that are equally important in giving the defense an added advantage.
While Sebastian Janikowski’s lone effort did yield a muffed punt, he is not nearly the weapon Shane is.
Ok, enough with my myopic ramblings. Maybe it is too far a stretch to assume all hope is lost if one punter can’t go this Sunday. But the Raiders need any advantage they can get and Lechler gives his squad a big leg up (pun intended).