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Fear the Raiders' Kicking Game

While everything seems to point to the probability of a Baltimore Ravens victory over the host Oakland Raiders Sunday to secure a Wild Card playoff spot for the Ravens, do not expect the Raiders to just roll over and let the Ravens walk into their crib and score an easy victory. On the contrary, a lot of teams out of playoff contention have already beaten contenders in the past few weeks and you can be sure that will happen in a few of the games this weekend as well.

The Raiders might have one of the league's worst record and rank among the bottom few in terms of offensive stats, there is one offensive category that should concern all Ravens fans. Specifically, the Raiders' placekicker, Sebastian Janikowski, who has one of, if not the strongest leg in the game today. If the Ravens let the Raiders stay in the game close to the end and within a field goal, the field just got a lot shorter for Oakland with "Sea-Bass" warming up on the sidelines.

Janikowski leads the entire NFL in field goals made over 50 yards this season Of the eight he has attempted, he has connected with six of them, including a league best 61 yarder. That kick meant that the Raiders decided to go for the FG with the ball on their opponents' 44 yard line! Add the seven yards to the spot and the ten yards of end zone equals the full 61 yards that he had to clear to get over the goalpost, which is incredible to think compared to our guys missing a few 30 yarders this season.

In fact, Janikowski is 24 of 27 overall and absolutely perfect inside of the 40. Even more impressive is his nine of ten from 40-49 yards and of course, the aforementioned six of eight over 50 yards. If the Ravens want to get into a FG kicking contest with the Raiders, we will be very disappointed by the end of the game. While the Ravens' Billy Cundiff has been a pleasant surprise since the release of Steven Hauschka, he is in no way to be compared to Sebastian, who has been doing this for 10 years in the NFL.

Janikowski has accounted for 88 of the Raiders 184 points scored in 2009, an astounding 48% of their total. Conversely, the more balanced Ravens have seen 106 of their 370 points via their placekicker's legs, a significantly lesser 29% of their total points scored. This includes FG's and PAT's combined. On one hand, the Raiders' reliance on Janikowski is a tribute to their inability to get the ball into the end zone, but on the other hand, he is a more dangerous threat than any other kicker in the league

So if the Baltimore Ravens do not put this game away early and keep Sebastian's strong leg out of the deciding factor, it could very well make the difference in the game and that alone should motivate the team to make his presence insignificant by the time the game winds down on Sunday afternoon.