Special teams is the ultimate equalizer in the NFL—it impacts field position, leads to points, and can mask a team's greatest deficiency.
Devin Hester's back still hurts from carrying Rex Grossman to the Super Bowl in 2006.
Elite return men add another dimension to their respective teams and often tilt the playing field one way or another, just as top-tier kickers and punters can leave their footprints on the outcome of a game, demanding a rare shimmer of respect from their harder-working teammates.
An NFL team is allowed to carry 53 players on its active roster, which means there are 1,696 jobs in total between the 32 franchises. Of those 1,696 jobs, starters on offense or defense account for 704, and specialists--punters, kickers and long snappers--take up 96. The rest of the NFL is left to fight over the remaining 896 job opportunities on NFL rosters.
What's the deciding factor for players on the bubble? Often, it's special teams.
By no means is special teams more important than an explosive offense or a dominant defense—the last two Super Bowl Champions ranked in the bottom-half of the league—but it can be the difference between winning or losing close games.
In such highly competitive games, special teams can be what "makes" or "breaks" a football team. Which teams are lacking, and which teams are loaded? Let's take a closer look at the special teams units for all 32 NFL teams.