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Predicting the Top 5 Kickers of 2014

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Predicting the Top 5 Kickers in 2014

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In the NFL, having a reliable kicker is becoming more and more of a must for teams, especially if the team does not have a reliable quarterback.

2013 saw the emergence of kickers like Dan Bailey, Matt Prater, Greg Zuerlein and Josh Scobee, while players like Mason Crosby, Dan Carpenter and Shaun Suisham all re-emerged as some of the league’s best kickers.

There were no hit rookies this season like in 2012 when Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh blasted onto the NFL scene. Unfortunately for Walsh, his success was not the same as in 2012. In all honestly, a lot of Vikings players did not live up their expectations, but that is another article for another time.

For those of you who are San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles fans, you know the harsh and rewarding feeling of last-second field goals. The pressure that goes into kicking a last-second field goal is almost unbearable for most people, especially when it is not something that happens every game.

The 2013 season saw a surge in the amount of kickers who finished the season with a kicking percentage of 90 or better. From kickers who nailed last-second field goals, to others who could not kick the ball straight to save their life.

What exactly does the 2014-15 season hold for the NFL’s elite kickers? Well check out the slideshow and see who the top five kickers of 2014 could be.

Baxter Colburn is a NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Baxstar20, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Justin Tucker

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The Baltimore Ravens owe most of their 2013 success to the leg of Tucker, there is no denying that fact. Tucker hit 38-of-41 field goals during the 2013 season, six of which came against the Detroit Lions in their 18-16 win in Week 15. Joe Flacco is a decent quarterback, but with his substantial decrease in production during the 2013 season, Tucker was called upon to bail out the Ravens' offense more than once. 2014 could be a chance for Tucker to really break out and establish himself as one of the league's elite kickers.

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4. Stephen Gostkowski

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This is one kicker who has had plenty of opportunities to score points this season, whether it was extra points after Tom Brady and the high-powered offense scored the league's third most points with 444 or field goals. Gostkowski went 38-of-41 with a season long kick from 54 yards. He is one of the best it comes to consistency in kicking.

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3. Mason Crosby

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The Green Bay Packers were seriously thinking of cutting Crosby before the beginning of the 2013 season; the team even went as far as bringing in two different kickers during training camp. Surprising, Crosby had himself one of the best seasons of his career during 2013. Packer fans should be encouraged with the amount of production that was seen in 2013. The upcoming season will be a true test to see whether or not Crosby is truly back to his consistent ways of kicking, but from all signs so far, it appears he is back to stay.

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2. Matt Prater

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Of course, most of you would say that Prater did not simple emerge in 2013, but merely established himself as one of the league’s best kickers. Having Peyton Manning as your starting quarterback is always a plus when it comes to kicking multiple extra points and field goals. Prater is poised for another breaking out season in 2014, even if Manning decides not to return.

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1. Steven Hauschka

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Is there really any surprise here? The Seattle Seahawks have made Hauschka one of the best kickers in the game after his tremendous 2013 season. Hauschka nailed 33-of-35 field goals with a season long from 53 yards. He is going to be a huge key to the Seahawks' Super Bowl success and the potential for a run at another appearance next season.