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Small sample, big impact: Field position to play major role Sunday

In a game that will feature two of the most proficient offenses this season, Super Bowl Sunday likely won't be a busy day for both teams' punters.

Quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have been two of the best at sustaining long drives. The average time of possession for the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints in the playoffs has been 32:41 and 32:12, respectively.

Behind the numbers

   Every day this week, will break down a different statistical trend to monitor in 
  Super Bowl XLIV. 

» Monday:Brees vs. Manning
» Tuesday:Pressuring the quarterback
» Wednesday:Rushing breakdown
» Thursday:Positive turnover differential
» Friday: Average starting field position

» Saturday:Super Bowl experience

» Sunday: Breaking down the kickers

But that shouldn't marginalize the jobs of both punters, Indianapolis' Pat McAfee and New Orleans' Thomas Morstead, who are kicking for Super Bowl teams in their rookie seasons. In fact, their punts will be magnified in Super Bowl XLIV as the few opportunities they have will be crucial in the battle for field position.

Teams with a better average starting field position are 37-6 in Super Bowl history.

Of all the Saints players glorified for helping the team reach its first Super Bowl, Morstead is far down the list. But he shouldn't be. In the Saints' 31-28 overtime victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, Morstead averaged 51.3 yards on seven punts, including a 63-yarder in the third quarter.

McAfee doesn't have quite the same power as Morstead, averaging 44.3 yards per punt during the regular season. But with Reggie Bush staring him down, McAfee will be focused less on how hard and high he kicks the ball and more on where he places it.

On kickoffs, Morstead and McAfee have been two of the best in terms of touchbacks. Morstead ranked fourth in the league during the regular season with 27 touchbacks, and McAfee wasn't far behind with 21, sixth-best.

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