Chiefs-Raiders: Battle Of The League's Best...Punters
Sunday's matchup between Kansas City and Oakland won't be one of two teams battling for first place in the AFC West. Neither team has been very good this season, and each have more problems than solutions at the moment.
Raiders punter Shane Lechler leads the NFL in gross punting average at 52.3 yards per punt. In the Raiders trip to Kansas City earlier this season, Lechler had his best game averaging 56.9 yards per punt on seven punts, including a 70-yarder.
Lechler's punting style is one of power. He drives the football deep into the opposition's territory and relies upon his coverage team to shut down any returns.
As a result, 34 or Lechler's 46 punts this season have been returned, for an average of 7.6 yards per return.
The Chiefs Dustin Colquitt averages a respectable 44.8 yards per punt, but is every bit as effective as Lechler.
Rather than driving the ball deep and allowing the punt returner a chance to get a big return against the Chiefs, Colquitt sacrifices a few yards for greater hang-time. Of his 53 punts this season, only 18 have been returned for just 5.9 yards per return.
Colquitt is also second in the league, behind Cleveland's Dave Zastudil, in punts inside the 20. Colquitt has landed 23 punts inside the 20 yard line, compared to just 14 by Lechler.
In a game between two teams that have continued to have difficulties moving the ball offensively, it's fair to say that special teams could play a big part in the outcome.
And unless Lechler or Colquitt makes a mistake, it's not likely you'll see a big punt return as the deciding factor in this game.
And while the punter isn't a glamourous position, viewers of this game will likely be watching a competition between the two most likely candidates to be representing the AFC in the Pro Bowl in February.
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