Around the NFC West: Dec. 5, 2012
The St. Louis Rams defeated the San Francisco 49ers in Week 13 on the strength of strong play from their defensive front seven, excellent coaching, long-range marksmanship on field goals and a generally mistake-free game from quarterback Sam Bradford.
The 49ers also helped with well-timed miscues, including another missed field goal try from David Akers. The 49ers would have won the game if Akers had connected from 51 yards in overtime. The Rams wound up winning on a longer kick.
But if you've been following along this season, you know I've made the case Akers hasn't suddenly forgotten how to make field goals. He has simply regressed to the mean (and beyond) on his long-range kicks while attempting far fewer "gimme" kicks, taking a bite out of his overall percentage.
Comparing Akers' year-over-year stats through Week 13 should help make sense of what's happening beyond simply saying Akers is struggling. Here we go.
Akers made 100 percent of his 13 attempts inside 30 yards to this point last season. He has made 100 percent of his six such attempts this season.
Akers made 90.9 percent of his 11 attempts from 30 to 39 yards to this point last season. He has made 88.9 percent of those kicks through Week 13 this season. He has "dropped" from making 10 of 11 to making 8 of 9. That change is statistically insignificant.
Akers has actually been better -- much better -- from 40 to 49 this season. He made only 42.9 percent (3 of 7) of those kicks through Week 13 last season. He has made 60 percent (6 of 10) this season.
Long-range kicks have been problematic. Akers made all six tries from that range at this point last season. He has made only one of five such kicks this season.
Again, however, it's misleading to say Akers is faring horribly on these longer kicks. He is faring horribly compared to how he fared on them last season, and horribly compared to the league average of 60.5 percent this season. But before improbably making 7 of 9 such attempts last season, Akers had made 2 of 6 over the previous two seasons combined. The difference between succeeding twice in six attempts (2009 and 2010 combined) and succeeding once in five attempts (2012) will disappear if Akers makes his next attempt from 50-plus yards.