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Buffalo Bills finish eighth in special teams rankings

Buffalo finished in the top ten for the second consecutive year

When the Buffalo Bills hired Heath Farwell as their special teams coordinator before the 2019 season, they did so to improve a special teams unit that had fallen to 31st in the NFL in 2018.

Safe to say, the move has paid off, as for the second straight season, Buffalo’s special teams cracked the top ten of columnist Rick Gosselin’s annual NFL special teams rankings.

The rankings are based on 22 different kicking-game categories, including kickoff and punt returns, kickoff and punt coverage, punting and net punting average, the number of punts kicked inside the 20, takeaways, giveaways, and penalties committed.

Points are assigned according to a team’s standing, with one point given out for being the best team in that category, and 32 points for the worst team.

Factoring in all of the categories, Buffalo had a team score of 316.5, thanks in large part to finishing first in takeaways (three), and extra-point percentage (100%), second in opponents starting field position (23.7-yard line), and punt coverage (5.6 yards/return), and third in kickoff coverage (18 yards/return), kickoff starting point (26.6-yard line), and blocked kicks (two). The Bills earned nine top-five rankings among the different categories.

The Baltimore Ravens had 241.5 points to finish first, followed by the Indianapolis Colts (272), Seattle Seahawks (276), Kansas City Chiefs (298.5), and the New Orleans Saints (299.5).

At the other end of the spectrum, the Green Bay Packers had the worst special teams (482.5), followed by the Los Angeles Chargers (444), Cleveland Browns (443), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (429), and Carolina Panthers (428.5).

Tyler Bass converted all 51 of his extra-point attempts and made 28 of 32 field goals, good for 135 points. In the return game, Isaiah McKenzie led Buffalo with 24.3 yards per kickoff return, while Marquez Stevenson averaged 9.4 yards per punt return, Micah Hyde averaged 9.3 yards/punt return, and McKenzie averaged 7.7 yards/punt return. In the coverage game, Tyler Matakevich led the team with 14 special teams tackles, followed by Siran Neal (13) and Andre Smith (11).

The complete list can be found below:

2021 NFL SPECIAL TEAMS RANKINGS

1. Baltimore Ravens, 241.5

2. Indianapolis Colts, 272

3. Seattle Seahawks, 276

4. Kansas City Chiefs, 298.5

5. New Orleans Saints, 299.5

6. Dallas Cowboys, 301

7. Detroit Lions, 310.5

8. Buffalo Bills, 316.5

9. Chicago Bears, 330

10. New York Giants, 332

11. Las Vegas Raiders, 333.5

12. Cincinnati Bengals, 341

13. New York Jets, 343

14. Houston Texans, 346

15. Minnesota Vikings, 347

16. Los Angeles Rams, 350

17. Pittsburgh Steelers, 364.5

18. New England Patriots, 376.5

19. Tennessee Titans, 377

20. Washington Football Team, 384.5

21. Philadelphia Eagles, 385.5

22. Miami Dolphins, 393

23. Atlanta Falcons, 408.5

24. Jacksonville Jaguars, 409.5

25. San Francisco 49ers, 414

26. Arizona Cardinals, 419.5

27. Denver Broncos, 421

28. Carolina Panthers, 428.5

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 429

30. Cleveland Browns, 443

31. Los Angeles Chargers, 444

32. Green Bay Packers, 482.5