Originally written on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 9/6/12

SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 12: Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears in action against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on November 12, 2009 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won 10-6. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

The key matchup in this weeks season lidlifter between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears won't be found on either offense or defense. In fact, the time that these two will be on the field together will likely account for one or two per cent of the total plays of the game, yet the outcome of those few plays will go a long way toward deciding the ultimate victor.

The Colts bring to Chicago one of the league's best punters in Pat McAfee. McAfee and his "boomstick," as he affectionately refers to his kicking leg, will face the challenge of the NFL's all-time leader in return touchdowns in Devin Hester.

Hester earned the nickname "Anytime" while at the University of Miami because even then he was a threat to go the distance any time he got his hands on the ball. As a pro, Hester hasn't done anything to diminish that reputation. In just six NFL seasons, Hester has shattered the record for punt return touchdowns. His 12 scores have caused many opponents to simply kick the ball out of bounds rather than give him an opportunity to score.

Kicking to Hester this week will be McAfee, who finished fourth in the NFL in punting in 2011. McAfee generally isn't one to kick away from return men. Of his 88 punts in 2011, 48 were returnable, tied for second in the NFL.

The decision of whether or not to kick to Hester will reside with the coaching staff, though, and not McAfee. Even with his strong leg, McAfee has shown an ability to directionally kick when needed.

Hester isn't just a threat on punts either. He's got another five touchdowns off kickoffs in his career. While the famous Chicago wind may play a part in it, McAfee is one of the best at producing touchbacks on kickoffs. Last year McAfee booted 41 touchbacks despite kicking off only 63 times, second only to Denver's Matt Prater and his altitude-induced average.

Hester will provide an immediate answer to whether or not the Colts' special teams have improved under the new coaching staff. They looked much better in the preseason, but Hester will provide the real test.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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