Upon Further Review: Chargers Special Teams

Harry How

Last time these two teams faced, the special teams played a valuable role in the Chargers early 24-0 lead as their unit recovered one muffed punt and forced a fumble on a kick return. Those mistakes cost the Broncos 10 points.

Since then though, it has been a completely different story. Trindon Holliday is now the return man and has both a kickoff and a punt return for a TD in the last two weeks respectively.

Here's how both teams fared in the last meeting:

Chargers:

5 kickoffs 1 touchback

5 kickoff returns for 126 yards (25.2 yard average)

4 punts (42.0 yards net average)

4 punt returns for 14 yards (3.5 yard average)

1/1 FG's

Broncos:

6 kickoffs 1 touchback

4 kickoff returns for 68 yards (17.0 yard average)

5 punts (41.8 yards net average)

2 punt returns for 12 yards (6.0) yard average

no FG's attempted

Pro Football Outsiders ranks the Chargers as an average special teams unit with a weighted DVOA of 0.2% (reading their explanation of DVOA---all it means is that the Chargers are 0.2% better than an average team). I prefer the D.B.A.A. rating on which Phillip Rivers takes the cake---but that's a discussion for a different post;)

Kickers

Nick Novak is the placekicker for the Chargers. He replaced Nate Kaeding who was injured often the past three years. Kaeding was placed on IR and then released from the team in early October. This season, Nick Novak is 9/10 on FG with his only miss coming from 55 yards. He is perfect in the extra point department. On kickoffs, Novak has booted 13/31 (21.5%) for touchbacks with an average of 66.4 yards per kick. (21.5 yards per return).

Mike Scifres is the punter. On the season, he has punted a total of 34 times this season (almost 4 times per game) with a net average of 41.5 yards. He's had one blocked, and has downed 14 of them inside the 20 yard line with 3 going into the endzone for touchbacks. No one has returned a punt for a touchdown against the Chargers----paging Mr. Holliday!

Return Units

The return man for SD is former Bronco Eddie Royal. With him at the helm, the Chargers are ranked 14th in the league at 24.8 yards per return. On punts however, Royal is averaging only 6.3 yards per return as the Chargers are ranked near the bottom at 27th. Here his long is only 20 yards. He has yet to break one for a TD in either scenario.

Coverage Units

On Punts, the Chargers are allowing the opponent to return the ball an average of 8.5 yards per kick which puts them 19th in the league (for future reference, the Broncos allow only 3.5 yards per punt return which is 2nd in the league)

With kickoffs the Chargers are allowing 21.5 yards per return which means the opponents average starting position is at the 20 yardline--pretty solid here.

With each aspect of special teams taken care of, here's how Bronco Mike scores the matchup:

Category

Chargers

Broncos

Kickoffs

Even

Even

Punts

Advantage

FG’s

Advantage

Kickoff Returns

Advantage

Punt Returns

Advantage

Kickoff coverage

Advantage

Punt coverage

Advantage

Looks like a 6-0-1 win for the Broncos, so long as they don't fumble on returns. Am I being a homer? Sure, but with the emergence of Trindon Holliday as of late, it is hard not to see that as an Advantage in the Broncos' favor. Thanks for reading MHR, if you have any questions, let me know. GO BRONCOS!!!

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