The Colts have been having a good season. They're 6-3 and have a two and a half game lead in the AFC South as they enter their bye week. Their number one offense and their MVP candidate at quarterback have garnered the bulk of the attention, and understandably (and rightfully) so. Their defense has been talked about quite a bit as well, and the unit has exceeded expectations overall. But the third aspect of the game for the Colts has been just as important and just as impressive, and of course that's the special teams unit.
The unit is headlined by their two kickers - place-kicker Adam Vinatieri and punter Pat McAfee. Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, speaking to the media on Tuesday, acknowledged that. "Special teams continues to be obviously a bright spot," Pagano said. "Guys did a great job in coverage. I feel like we've got the two best kickers in the National Football League. Vinnie (Adam Vinatieri) just keeps performing at a high, high level, as well as Pat (McAfee). Getting a lot of great play out of some young players on special teams, the Purifoys (Loucheiz Purifoy), the McDonalds (Dewey McDonald), a lot of guys. I'm missing a bunch: (Andy) Studebaker, Colt Anderson, Jack Doyle, those guys all do a great job, Matt Overton. Special teams has been really good."
He's right. The Colts have been getting high quality play out of a number of players on special teams, and that has been great to see. Furthermore, Pagano actually has a very strong case when he said that he feels like the Colts have the two best kickers in the NFL.
Pat McAfee has been phenomenal this year. He's averaging 46.6 yards per punt and his net of 43.6 yards per punt ranks second in the league. Of his 36 punts, 16 of them have been downed inside the 20 yard line (44.4%) and only 2 have gone for touchbacks. McAfee has done much more than punt well, however. He also leads the NFL (by a fairly comfortable margin) in touchbacks on kickoffs, as he serves as the kickoff specialist for the Colts. He has successfully converted all three of his onside kick attempts this season. When you look for an unheralded key to the Colts' this year, it has been Pat McAfee. He has played a huge role in pinning opponents deep and winning the field position battle.
His kicking counterpart with the Colts, Adam Vinatieri, is also having a tremendous season. He is 20-for-20 on field goals and 32-for-32 on extra points this year - 52-for-52 overall. His 20 made field goals are the second most in the NFL this year and is one of only four kickers remaining perfect - and the next closest, Chandler Cantanzaro, while kicking very well still has four less field goals than Vinatieri. Vinny is 6-for-6 from 40-49 yards out and 1-for-1 from 50 or more yards this year. Dating back to last season, he has hit 26 field goals in a row - a career best for the future Hall of Famer. For the 19-year veteran, this is the most field goals he has made without a miss to start a season of any in his career. He's playing at the top of his game and is a great playmaker for the Colts, no doubt helping contribute to their being the top-scoring team.
Perhaps you could argue that there has been a better punter than Pat McAfee this year, though it'd be a tough argument (as he's arguably the best special teams player in the NFL this year period). Perhaps you could argue that there has been a better kicker than Adam Vinatieri this year, though that would also be a tough argument. But finding a punter and a kicker on the same team playing at the level that the Colts' two kickers are? I'm not sure there is an argument to be made that another team has a better duo. Whether or not you think the Colts have the two best kickers in the NFL, like Chuck Pagano does, they have the best kicking duo in the league, and that's perfectly fine for the Colts. Their special teams unit, led by McAfee and Vinatieri, has been a huge weapon this year - and as long as those two are kicking, there's no reason to expect that to change.