Team rankings for kickoffs
and kickoff coverage
Updated: April 16, 2003, 3:03 PM ETBy By Ryan Early
This is one area of special teams that hardly anyone pays attention to, even though the NFL keeps track of some pretty good stats measuring everything involved. For example, the Bengals had the shortest average kickoffs at just 54.8 yards per boot (the NFL average was 61.2) while the Seahawks and Cardinals both failed to get a single touchback on their 140 combined kickoffs (league average was 6.2). In a positive light, the Raiders' Sebastian Janikowski is by far the NFL's best kickoff man as Oakland led the league last year both in kick length at 66.6 yards and touchbacks with 22. But those long kickoffs by Janikowski gave their opponents more room to run and the team gave up the highest kickoff return average at 24.7 yards. So do those two stats cancel each other out? That's where our Power Points comes in. We measured every single special teams play in 2002 and graded them based on how the final field position related to the expected result. Better-than-expected field position gives a team's offense a higher probability of scoring, which we measure in fractions of points. For kickoff cover units, allowing a touchdown is the worst possible result, and thus the corresponding power point attached to the play is negative-six points. Kicking the ball out of bounds or allowing a big return is still a negative play, but nowhere near as big. Touchbacks and short returns add a small number of points, and turnovers (including fumbles and onside kicks recovered) count as a large number of points for this unit.