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Proposed Change To Kickoffs Could Largely Eliminate Them

The NFL is considering a significant change to the current kickoff rules, potentially moving the kickoff up to the 35-yard line from the 30 and having touchbacks brought out to the receiving team's 25 instead of the 20. You might look at that as good news/bad news for the New York Giants.

In 2010 Pro Football Focus shows that 15 NFL kickers who played in at least 12 games averaged kicking the ball more than 65 yards, which -- from the 35 -- would put their average kickoff into the end zone. Billy Cundiff of Baltimore averaged a crazy 72.4 yards per kickoff.

Unfortunately for the Giants, Lawrence Tynes was not one of those kickers. Still, his average of 61.8 yards would put his normal kickoff around the three-yard line. Even the Giants not always reliable kickoff coverage unit ought to be able to keep a return man inside the 25 most of the time given a start from five yards closer. On top of which, the NFL is considering further limitations on wedge blocking.

I suppose, though, that you could also look at it and say that the touchback could almost be considered a weapon for the Giants kickoff return team, considering that the 25 would have been considered outstanding field position following a kick return in 2010.

My guess is that if these rules are adopted you will see placekickers try to master the art of kicking the ball high, but short of the goal-line, forcing teams to return the ball. With coverage teams five yards closer and no wedge, you would have to like the odds that your coverage unit can pin a team inside the 25.