Compared to many of the exciting plays that take place in the average NFL game, the kickoff seems rather mundane. However, the kickoff is much more important than the average casual fan would think, and data from the 2014 NFL season supports that. In 2014 alone, 6 kickoffs were returned for a touchdown, providing not just a big boost to team morale but also a quick touchdown that increased their team’s likelihood of winning. The easiest way to prevent this as an NFL kicker is to kick the ball deep enough into the end zone that the other team decides to take a touchback. Even though there is just a slight difference in the average starting field position because of a touchback (the league-wide average in 2014 was the 21.27-yard line compared to the 20-yard line after a touchback and there is actually a very slight negative correlation between the percent of kicks that are touchbacks and the opponent’s average starting field position), there is a major benefit to a kicker that can consistently get touchbacks. Last season, just over half of the kickoffs resulted in a touchback (51.14%), but there were five kickers who had a touchback on more than 65% of their kickoffs. Out of these five kickers, all five (Graham Gano of the Carolina Panthers, Pat McAfee of the Indianapolis Colts, Sam Martin of the Detroit Lions, Brandon McManus of the Denver Broncos and Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens) kicked for teams that made the playoffs in the 2014 season. This unlikely statistic (the probability of randomly selecting the kickers from five teams, and having all five of them kick for 2014 playoff teams is .39%.) demonstrates the immense value that a kicker who can consistently get touchbacks can achieve. So next time your favorite team is looking to increase its chances of making the playoffs, maybe look to sign a kicker who can consistently get touchbacks.