Contrary to the saying, special teams are not one-third of the game.
In the first Jaguars-Colts game, Indy ran 66 offensive plays, Jacksonville ran 57. There were six punts, eight PATs and zero field goal attempts. By my math, special teams were 10.2 percent of that game.
Special teams are important, for sure. They just aren’t as important as offense or defense unless you’re terrible at them (see San Diego earlier this season) or fantastic at them (see Devin Hester at the peak of his powers.)
Still, special teams make for an interesting topic on these two teams.
The Colts don’t have the resources or philosophy to pay them much heed, though Pat McAfee is a fine punter/kickoff man and Adam Vinatieri has been a super reliable field goal kicker though he’s not a threat on real long attempts. On coverage and returns, the Colts do only enough to get by and lost a great special-teamer when Melvin Bullitt got hurt. New Orleans’ successful onside kick to open the third quarter of Super Bowl XLIV absolutely changed the game but didn't prompt major changes.
Indy’s average drive starts at its 21.9-yard line, the worst field position in the NFL. The Colts’ opponents start at the 25.4-yard line.
The Jaguars have dedicated a lot to special teams. They have a stud cover guy in Montell Owens and gave him a counterpart by adding Kassim Osgood as a free agent. Deji Karim is a quality kickoff return man (who missed the first meeting) and Mike Thomas is a nice punt returner. Josh Scobee’s got a history of clutch kicks against the Colts, topped by the 59-yard field goal that beat Indy as time expired at EverBank Field on Oct. 3.
Jacksonville’s average drive starts at its 27.4-yard line, which rates 13th in the NFL. The Jaguars’ opponents start at the 24.1.
If there is a special-teams play in this game that is a big factor in determining who wins, it’s more likely to come from Jacksonville. Unless I just jinxed the Jags.