1. Tennessee Titans -
Although the Titans officially divorced themselves from the troubled, but dynamic return man in Adam "Pacman" Jones, Tennessee still has the most well-rounded special teams unit in the division. Kicker Rob Bironas has as strong of a leg as anyone in the league, and is "straight cash (homey)" when the game is on the line. Punter Craig Hentrich is solid, but unspectacular, and the combination of Chris Davis, Michael Griffin, and Cortland Finnegan are solid in the return game. The Titans coverage units were good a year ago, and expect to be again in 2008.
Strengths: Rob Bironas is as good as it gets.
Limitations: Nobody that strikes fear into opposing coverage units, at least not yet.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars -
Jacksonville is very solid in each facet of their special teams. Kicker Josh Scobee had a good 2007 campaign, despite missing most of the first nine games of the year. Dennis Northcutt served as a sure-handed punt return man for the Jaguars, but he didn't break any for longer than 37 yards. Maurice Jones-Drew is one of the most explosive players in the NFL, and was amongst the league leaders in kickoff return average (26.2 ypr.). The Jaguars coverage units were one of the stingiest in the NFL a year ago, and the only weak spot of their special teams was rookie punter Adam Podlesh, who had one of the lowest gross averages in the league (41.6 ypp.).
Strengths: Maurice Jones-Drew plays huge in big games, and is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Coverage units are very good.
Limitations: Punter Adam Podlesh was underwhelming as a rookie, and the Jaguars decision to use a fourth-round pick on him is questionable at this point in his career.
3. Houston Texans -
The Texans boast one of the finest return men in the league in Andre Davis, who averaged 30.3 yards per kickoff return, and took back three kicks to the house. Kicker Kris Brown has a very strong leg, and is one of the game's most consistent three-point men. Punt returner Jacoby Jones has explosive speed, as he averaged 9.5 ypr. a year ago. The Texans coverage units are a bit suspect, and their punter, veteran Matt Turk, has a below average leg.
Strengths: Andre Davis has explosive kickoff return ability, and Jacoby Jones is very good in the punt return game. When Kris Brown is on, he's one of the best.
Weaknesses: Punting game is suspect, as is their coverage.
4. Indianapolis Colts -
If the five-time reigning AFC South Champion Colts have a weakness, it is on their special teams. Kicker Adam Vinatieri is the star, as he is a sure-fire hall of famer, but Vinatieri had an off year (for his standards) in 2007, as he hit on just 23 of 29 kicks, with a long of only 39 yards. Punter Hunter Smith is very ordinary, despite benefiting from punting indoors for better than half of his games. Indianapolis doesn't have dangerous return men, as T.J. Rushing is the epitome of average. The Colts coverage units were bad a year ago, and don't have the appearance of being improved in 2008.
Strengths: Kicker Adam Vinatieri is as cool of a customer as there is under pressure.
Weaknesses: Everything other than Vinatieri.
AFC South Special Teams Rankings
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