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AFC East Roundup: Key special teams rankings

Some better than others—the division’s third phase of the game

Over the last couple of weeks on the AFC East Roundup, we’ve discussed both the offensive and defensive ranks of each team in the division. That brings us to the third phase of football that some consider to be the most important, special teams. Special teams can sometimes make all the difference in a game whether it be a missed field goal or a great kick return. So, let’s look at some of the statistics that stand out for each team.

Second-year kicker Tyler Bass has been a weapon for the Buffalo Bills this season. Bass has only missed one field goal on the year that was over 50 yards and has converted on all of his extra points. His 93.3 field-goal percentage puts him in the top five for all of football. Where the team needs to improve on is punting. After signing a multi-year contract with the Bills during the offseason, Matt Haack ranks 24th in the league for average punts and ranks last in net punting. When Buffalo’s offense fails to put points on the board, Haack has to do his job better within a long punt routine that always has fans on the edge of their seats.

Although the New England Patriots’ offense has been inconsistent at times, their special teams remains one of the best. The Patriots lead the league with 17 made field goals on the season. Veteran kicker Nick Folk has been great this year converting 94 percent of his field goals but has missed three extra points on the year.

When it comes to the Miami Dolphins, their special teams haven’t been great. Miami ranks 29th in the league only converting on 70 percent on their field goals. When Miami’s offense does falter, the team also ranks in the bottom half of the league in punting. After a unit that ranked in the top half of the league in special teams categories last season, they now find themselves in the bottom of the group.

It’s been a long season for the New York Jets but one thing that’s stood out so far is their return game. The Jets rank in the top five in both average kickoff returns and average punt returns. The only problem is that the offense often sputters after these great returns. New York ranks in the bottom of the league in field goals attempts and ranks last in extra-point attempts.