Why does Mike Scifres win the San Diego Chargers' Game Ball this week? Because Mike is having another Pro Bowl-caliber season and somebody needs to beat the drum for him so that he can finally get his trip to Hawaii.
On Thursday, matched up against 6-time Pro Bowler Shane Lechler, Scifres finished with a higher average on yards per punt and had the longest punt of the night (71 yards) while still getting two of his punts downed inside the Raiders' 20 yard line.
On the season, Mike Scifres is 3rd in yards per punt and 5th in net yards per punt (which factors in return yards by the opposing team). So why do I think he's having the best year of any NFL punter? Follow this:
- The only two punters getting more yards per punt are Andy Lee and Shane Lechler. However, Lechler has the worst net punting yards of the three of them because of two punt return TDs (either caused by bad coverage or by Lechler out-kicking his coverage).
- Lecher and Lee have both downed 14 punts inside the opponents' 20 yard line. Scifres has done it just 10 times. However, he has nearly half as many punts this season as Lee and Lechler. Scifres is dropping 37% of his punts inside the opposing 20 this year, where Lechler and Lee are only doing it about 31% of the time.
- Lechler has had only 5 fair catches (or 11% of his punts) this year, lending more to the argument that he's been out-kicking his coverage. Lee has 10 (22%) and Scifres has 7 (26%).
See where I'm going? With less opportunities, Scifres is doing more to help his team. He's not outkicking his coverage, like Lechler, and he's out-punting Andy Lee in every category outside of actual punt attempts. Hopefully the low number of punts this season (which Mike has no control over) won't hold him out of the Pro Bowl yet again.