When you think about punters, you don’t really get too excited. After all they don’t score points and they rarely get involved in the hitting aspect of the game. However, a punter is very important to a team. The ability of your punter goes a long way in determining how your team does in the ongoing battle for field position. As the 2013 season approaches, here are the 10 best punters in the NFL.
Andy Lee – San Francisco 49ers
As if the 49ers didn’t have enough talent all over the field, they can also say that they have the game’s top punter. Lee was excellent in 2012, averaging 48.1 yards per punt. On top of that, he pinned 36 of his punts inside the 20-yard line against just four touchbacks. Opponents only averaged 6.9 yards per return, which ranked him among the best in that category.
Pat McAfee – Indianapolis Colts
The Colts bounced back in a big way in 2012, and a good amount of credit belongs to McAfee. He averaged 48.2 yards per attempt, while opponents averaged a mere 11.7 yards per return. That’s a strong ratio, and it helped the Colts gain a field position advantage in the bulk of their games. Of his 73 punts in 2012, only 32 were returned by opponents.
Brandon Fields – Miami Dolphins
Fields didn’t have the accuracy of the two punters above him on this list, but he made up for it with power. He averaged a league-best 50.2 yards on his punts. That’s even more impressive considering the fact that he put 29 of his 74 attempts inside the 20 yard line.
Matt Bosher – Atlanta Falcons
When you have a good team, everyone contributes. That holds true for Bosher and the Falcons. Opponents were only able to return 26 of his 60 punts, and only managed 9.3 yards per return. Bosher did have two of his attempts blocked, but he made up for it by landing 22 of his attempts inside the 20.
Donnie Jones – Houston Texans
As it turns out, most 2012 playoff teams boasted a solid punter. Jones and the Texans are just the latest example. He attempted a remarkable 88 points despite playing on a team with a strong offense, and he only had five touchbacks all season. Meanwhile, he landed 28 inside the 20, which certainly aided his team in the field position battle.
Kevin Huber – Cincinnati Bengals
Huber had 33 punts inside the 20 to go along with just seven touchbacks. That was one of the better ratios in the league. His opponents also averaged less than 8 yards on returns, which is also one of the best marks in the league. Those numbers add up to one strong punter.
Thomas Morstead – New Orleans Saints
Along with Fields, Morstead was the only punter in the league to average 50 years per punt. Playing for a team that features Drew Brees, you might not think a punter can do much. However, Morstead’s power in his 74 attempts did a lot to help a defense that needed all of the help it could get.
Bryan Anger – Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars were awful in 2012, but don’t blame their punter. He averaged 47.8 yards in his 91 punts, 31 of which landed inside the 20. Opponents did average 13.4 yards per return, but Anger did his part by allowing just 40 of his punts to be returned.
Shane Lechler – Oakland Raiders
Lechler joins Sebastian Janikowski to give the Raiders some solid kickers. Unfortunately, the team doesn’t have much else. He had 81 punts on the season and averaged 47.2 yards per attempt. That was good enough to land him in the top 10 in that category.
Brett Kern – Tennessee Titans
Kern ranked among the 10 best punters in most important categories, including punting average and kicks inside the 20. Opposing teams returned only 39 of his 81 punts, which means he was effective at preventing any big plays. That went a long way in helping a team that leaned heavily on defense.
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