For every action, there is a reaction. That’s what I was always taught in school, at least the times I attended and was not at the racetrack. However, there are exceptions to every rule and every old adage
The decision by the NFL to move kickoffs up five yards, from the 30-yard line to the 35, might be one of those exceptions to the action/reaction motto.
Pete Korner, who makes the betting line for the majority of Nevada’s legal sports books as owner of the Sports Club, is taking a wait-and-see attitude before he even thinks about making adjustments in any ‘over/under’ numbers.
“I am going to wait at least a few weeks before even investigating if those five yards are affecting the side or total,” indicated Korner.
“It is only natural to believe teams that possessed an above-average kick return game will be negatively affected by this new rule,” added Korner. “But we will just have to wait to see how many touchbacks result in this extra five yard advantage to the kicking team.”
The average starting field position last season after a boot from the kicking team’s 30-yard line was the 27. Simple math would indicate that the new starting point will result in a few steps backward.
“My guess is that we won’t see the affects of that new rule until the weather gets nasty and the defensive-minded clubs get the other team in a hole because of some less-than-ideal conditions,” indicated Korner.
Chicago Bears speedster Devon Hester led all players with 10 or more kickoff returns last season by averaging 35.6 yards per return. Hester retuned 12 kickoffs for 427 yards, which included nine returns of 20 yards or more and five returns for 40 yards or more.
Baltimore’s David Reed is another speed burner who probably will not be thrilled with the new rule. Reed returned 21 kicks for 611 yards (29.3 average), but 16 of his 21 returns went for 20 yards or more. He also registered a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Other return men who might be influenced by the new rule include Brad Smith of the Jets, who had 50 returns for 1,432 yards (28.6 avg.) and Eric Weems of the Falcons, who had 1,100 return yards on 40 attempts for a 28.6 average.
There were 16 kickoffs returned for touchdowns last season, with Detroit’s Stefan Logan leading the way with a 105-yard effort.
Jacoby Ford, who returned 53 kickoffs for the Oakland Raiders last year, might actually be helped by the new rule. Ford led all kick return specialists with three lost fumbles during the 2010-11 campaign.
Baltimore’s Billy Cundiff led all kickers with a 71.1 yards-per-kick average last season after booting 79 kicks for 5,620 yards. Forty of Cundiff’s kicks resulted in a touchback.
Nate Kaeding and his San Diego Chargers mates may want to thank the rules committee, as they had a league-leading three kickoffs returned for a touchdown.