NFL Playoffs 2013: Power Ranking Best Placekickers in NFL Playoffs
One kick can be the difference between glory and heartbreak in the NFL Playoffs—anyone who says otherwise needs only look back to 2012.
Both the AFC and NFC Championship games came down to a single kick by the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants respectively, with those kicks influencing the final outcome of the game (and indeed the Super Bowl) directly.
So now, in 2013, we must remember the significance that kickers have in the NFL—particularly when it comes to close, tight playoff games.
That's why we've ranked the eight remaining kickers in the playoffs from eight through one as to who is the most important and best kicker of them all. Who can be counted on the most in the final minutes to deliver for their team this season?
We'll soon find out.
One important note, however, before we begin.
This power ranking is purely based on statistics and performances from this season alone. This list has in no way incorporated a kicker's career or even last season's performances, for what counts is how they are performing this season.
With that out of the way, let's begin.
8. Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
Coming in at the bottom of our list here, and it's no surprise really, is Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby, who has struggled mightily in 2012/13.
Normally one of the strongest and most confident in the league, Crosby has the lowest percentage from any active kicker across the league this season—making just two from his nine attempts from 50 or more yards so far this year.
He does seem to be regaining some confidence, which is good for Packers fans heading into their playoff clash against the 49ers, but there's little doubting Crosby's inclusion at the bottom of the list here.
7. David Akers, San Francisco 49ers
It seems almost ridiculous to have David Akers this low down any list of great kickers in the NFL, but so far this year, the 49ers kicker hasn't been anywhere near as impressive as we know he can be.
That 63-yard bomb he landed in the opening week seems so far away now, with Akers holding the second lowest accuracy in the league this year.
He has also struggled from longer range too this season—missing nearly half of his attempts taken from 40-49 yards and making just two of six from beyond 50 yards.
6. Shayne Graham, Houston Texns
Houston Texans kicker Shayne Graham comes in at number six here, and he probably could have been a lot higher on this list if it weren't for his efforts from long-range this year.
Graham is a perfect 20-for-20 from 39 yards or less this season, but has made just 11-of-18 from beyond that range—including a less than 50 percent strike rate from 50 yards or more.
There are some quality kickers on this list, and Graham is certainly one them, but he could easily have been much higher had he been more effective from deep this year.
5. Matt Prater, Denver Broncos
Unlike Graham, Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater has been good from long range this season, and it's helped him earn fifth spot in our playoff kicker power rankings here.
He has missed just once from beyond 50 yards this season, but has let himself down with a mediocre strike rate from 40-49 yards this year.
6 from 10 on the season might not seem that bad, but compared to others in the league, those numbers simply aren't good enough to be considered anywhere higher than this.
4. Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots
Stephen Gostkowski has always been one of the top kickers in the NFL and has continued on again this season, with a strong kicking performance so far.
The New England kicker is perfect from beyond 50 and has made nine of 13 attempts from 40-49 yards this season, with only some missed attempts from 30-39 yards keeping him from breaking into the top three on this list.
3. Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant comes in here to kick off our top three—perhaps a little too high in the minds of some people, but hard not to include so high given the sheer volume of kicks he's had this year.
Bryant has made more field goals than any other kicker on this list and hasn't missed any of his four attempts from beyond 50 yards this season.
He has one of the highest accuracy percentages from any of the kickers in question here, having missed just twice from inside 40 yards and three times from 40-49 yards all year.
Had he been more accurate in particularly the second category there, he could have climbed even further ahead in these rankings.
2. Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks
Coming in second place here is Seattle Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka, who has been excellent so far this season for the team, but can't quite nab the top spot on these power rankings.
Hauschka has not missed from inside 50 yards this season, having made all 26 attempts that he's taken on the year so far—the only player to achieve such a feat.
However, he has only landed one from four from beyond 50 yards this year and has missed a couple of extra points as well, which did keep him from truly making his presence felt on top of our power rankings here. Regardless, it's been a great year to date from Hauschka.
1. Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
There can be no other player listed as the top kicker this year out of the remaining playoff kickers than Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker, who has thrived at his new club this season.
Tucker has one of the highest accuracy rates in the league this season—missing just three times all year—and has not missed from beyond 50 yards this season.
For a team that was forced to watch their Super Bowl dream go out the window with one wayward Billy Cundiff field goal, Tucker has been a great thing for Baltimore this year and, hopefully, can continue on throughout the playoffs in the same fashion.
Who's been the best kicker this year out of the remaining playoff kickers?
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: Follow @dantalintyre
All statistics courtesy of ESPN.