Many don’t tend to think much about kickers, but there sure where a lot of busy ones last year. A record six kickers attempted at least 40 field goals – twice as many as any season since the early ‘70s.

Two did it despite not even playing a full 16 games – Harrison Butker and Greg Zuerlein.

You have to back to 1970, 1972 and 1973 to find a season in which four kickers attempted 40-plus field goals (particularly impressive with teams playing only 14 games at the time). But kickers were key last year.

Since the league moved to a 16-game season in 1978, only three times have there been three kickers attempting 40 field goals (in 1993, 2013 and 2016). That got doubled up last year, and with accuracy also on the rise, there were some dominant players at the position.

Past performance, of course, doesn’t guarantee future success. I can’t promise there will be another four-plus kickers attempting a bunch of field goals this year. But scoring has been on the rise at this position. Only four times in NFL history have there been more than 1,000 field goals attempted in a season, and all four of those seasons have come in the last seven years (with 2017 coming in No. 1).

2011David Akers, S.F.52
2001Kris Brown, Pitt.44
2017Ryan Succop, Tenn.42
2017Harrison Butker, K.C.42
2016Dustin Hopkins, Wash.42
2012David Akers, S.F.42
2005Jay Feely, NYG42
2005Neil Rackers, Ariz.42
2003Jeff Wilkins, St.L.42
2017Robbie Gould, S.F.41
2016Caleb Sturgis, Phil.41
2016Nick Novak, Hou.41
2013Stephen Gostkowski, N.E.41
2013Justin Tucker, Balt.41
2011Graham Gano, Wash.41
2010Sebastian Janikowski, Oak.41
2010Dan Carpenter, Mia.41
2017Stephen Gostkowski, N.E.40
2017Greg Zuerlein, LAR40
2017Phil Dawson, Ariz.40
2015Justin Tucker, Balt.40
2013Adam Vinatieri, Ind.40
2008David Akers, Phil.40
2008Stephen Gostkowski, N.E.40
2002Jay Feely, Atl.40

—Ian Allan