2012 NFL Week Sixteen: Inside The Colts Numbers

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

As we've seen many times this year, the Colts turn it on in the 4th quarter and clinch the #5 seed in the AFC Playoffs.

Sunday afternoon in Kansas City was a microcosm of the Colts season. All year they'd plod along for the first three and a half quarters, then you think to yourself, "How the hell are these guys still in the game?" Then it became winning time, and everyone in all three phases of the game shook off all the struggles, and dominated their opponent. This is exactly how it happened Sunday, a 20-13 Colts win that punched their ticket to the Playoffs, just a year removed from an awful 2-14 record just a season ago.

What happened at "winning time" Sunday? Andrew Luck and the Offense marched down the field, something they hadn't done all day, going 13 plays, 73 yards, ending with a Reggie Wayne seven yard TD catch in the back of the end zone. Then the Defense, which had been shredded all day on the ground, stopped the Chiefs on three plays, forcing a punt with 2:31 remaining (the decision to run the ball on 3rd and 8 was awful, but at that point they were averaging over 8 yards per carry, so you can't blame him too much). We've seen the Colts throw the ball to beat the Titans at the end, but Sunday it was Vick Ballard on a 3rd and 10 getting a great seal block from Anthony Castonzo and a great down-field block from Reggie Wayne, gaining 13 yards and winning the game.

We'll talk about exactly how the Colts were even able to stay in the game in the first place in a bit, but it's time once again for me to get on my "Passing > Rushing" soap box. The Chiefs ran for 352 yards Sunday on 44 carries, an amazing 8 Yards per Carry. Didn't help them much though, did it? It was the most rushing yards in a game by a losing team in NFL history, shattering the old record of 320 yards. Again yesterday, teams that ran the ball / stopped the run were a combined 3-6 (RB Success & YPC), while Passing the ball / Stopping the Pass was 9-0. Pretty simple math if you ask me.

I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday, but the biggest issue I had yesterday was with the gameplan/play calling, as I just stood there shaking my head at times. There was a stretch in the second half where on 12 pass plays they had 10 incompletions and 2 sacks. I'd think after 4 or 5 you'd try to call a play that was a little higher percentage. It took until play 13, and imagine what we saw: Six of seven completions, all considered "short" by the NFL's play-by-play data. I just don't understand why that couldn't have happened two series earlier. The Chiefs Defense, while they can pretend it's just their awful offense putting them in bad situations, it's not a good defense.

I know Andrew Luck is going to get a lot of run for breaking the rookie record for passing yards in a season, but that isn't a record that does anything for me. Luck has attempted 599 passes this season, compared to Cam Newton's 517 from a year ago, and Peyton Manning's 575. While the national media will make a big deal of it, the stat is all about volume and I can't get behind it. I wish they'd pay more attention to his seven game-winning drives, tying the NFL regular season record. That means way more to me than a stat that shows the Colts pass the ball a whole lot.

How did the stats look from Sunday? Let's dive in and find out:

Non-Adjusted Stats from Week 16:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 63.0% 24 69.7% 17 N Y 7-1
ANPY/A 5.590 15 2.826 4 Y N 9-0
Turnovers 0 1 3 3 Y N 9-1
Yds/Drive 26.18 20 46.09 27 N Y 5-2
ToP/Drive 2:30.9 20 2:56.4 23 N N 4-2
Yds/Play 4.431 23 7.567 31 N Y 3-3
Orange Zone Eff 61.9% 15 14.3% 1 Y N 11-0
First Downs/Drive 1.45 22 2.00 22 N Y 6-2
3rd/4th Down 37.5% 14 18.2% 3 N N 6-0
Avg Start Pos 23.9 25 17.4 1 N N 6-0
3 and Outs 3 10 1 25 N N 3-2
RZ Eff 71.4% 15 0.0% 1 Y N 10-2
Plays/Drive 5.909 15 6.091 20 N N 4-2
Penalty Yds / Play 0.738 18 1.119 10 Y N 4-2
RB Success 26.1% 29 56.1% 28 N Y 1-4
Yds/Carry 3.46 21 8.00 32 N Y 2-2
Ranking - Week (32) 14 16 16
Ranking - Season (480) 259 211 237

Adjusted Stats from Week 16:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 63.1% 26 76.3% 24 N Y 7-1
ANPY/A 3.817 25 5.080 13 Y N 9-0
Turnovers 0.9 12 2.0 13 Y N 9-1
Yds/Drive 23.57 24 47.07 31 N Y 5-2
ToP/Drive 2:20.8 25 2:48.7 19 N N 4-2
Yds/Play 3.947 28 7.909 32 N Y 3-3
Orange Zone Eff 56.6% 18 39.9% 10 Y N 11-0
First Downs/Drive 1.49 21 2.10 26 N Y 6-2
3rd/4th Down 37.3% 13 23.5% 8 N N 6-0
Avg Start Pos 22.9 31 19.5 5 N N 6-0
3 and Outs 3.5 20 1.0 31 N N 3-2
RZ Eff 68.5% 16 21.4% 4 Y N 10-2
Plays/Drive 5.952 11 5.945 17 N N 4-2
Penalty Yds / Play 0.863 20 1.235 4 Y N 4-2
RB Success 27.3% 29 56.5% 29 N Y 1-4
Yds/Carry 2.87 27 7.57 32 N Y 2-2
Ranking - Week (32) 24 19 26
Ranking - Season (480) 355 334 412

Some thoughts:

  • I said on Thursday the key would be Turnovers, and the Colts clearly listened, getting three of them, and all three were huge swings in the game. The first came on the Darius Butler Pick-6, the only Colts TD until the 4th quarter. At first I thought it was just an awful pass from Brady Quinn, but later they showed a replay with the option routes Dexter McCluster could have run, and I'm thinking they just weren't on same page. The other two turnovers happened in the Red Zone, perfect timing for the Colts.
  • Speaking of the Red Zone, the Chiefs only two trips there ended in Turnovers, and they could only muster six points from six Orange Zone trips. I also talked about how the Colts Defense had gotten pretty good at keeping their opponent out of the end zone, and it continued Sunday. Great sign going forward.
  • Unsurprisingly the Colts were bad at Yards per Play on Defense, giving up nearly 8 yards per play. The 80 yard TD run by Jamaal Charles was a big part in that, but they were getting huge chunks of yards on many other plays as well.
  • Drive Stats were underwhelming, but they made up for it at the end of those drives. I can live with that.
  • The Offense couldn't seem to sustain many drives Sunday, ranking in the bottom quarter of teams in most of our Drive Stats. The Drive Success Rate worries me a bit, as it's been getting progressively worse through the season. These numbers won't come close to winning a Playoff game.
  • I thought this would be the week we saw Luck break out and have a big week passing, but it just wasn't meant to be. Now, if you just look at the numbers you'd think only Luck struggled, but it doesn't tell the whole story. For most of the day the Offensive line did a really good job protecting Luck, but his receivers just couldn't get open. There were also several drops by all the receivers, adding to the frustration. I know it'll come with time, but frustrating to watch the inconsistency now.
  • Running game was bad all day until the last run of the day. When it's most important, they get the job done. I'll take it, for now.
  • Two weeks in a row without a turnover from Luck, and no turnovers at all for the Colts this week. Well done.

Season Stats through Week 16 (Adjusted):

Statistic Offense Rank Best Defense Rank Best Record Win %
DSR 70.8% 12 Patriots 74.1% 31 Cardinals 88-14 0.863
ANPY/A 4.962 23 Patriots 6.873 30 Bears 112-9 0.926
Turnovers 1.92 21 Packers 0.91 31 Bears 104-22 0.825
Yds/Drive 30.55 13 Patriots 35.49 32 Cardinals 74-20 0.787
ToP/Drive 2:47.0 11 Seahawks 2:51.0 26 Texans 92-22 0.807
Yds/Play 4.991 24 Redskins 6.065 31 49ers 66-26 0.717
Orange Zone Eff 50.2% 23 Saints 58.6% 23 Seahawks 99-21 0.825
First Downs/Drive 1.91 6 Patriots 1.92 31 Cardinals 73-27 0.730
3rd/4th Down 41.5% 10 Patriots 39.6% 17 Texans 84-26 0.764
Avg Start Pos 26.7 32 Packers 27.9 3 49ers 89-25 0.781
3 and Outs 3.27 7 Patriots 2.81 32 Cardinals 71-25 0.740
RZ Eff 66.0% 15 Patriots 66.4% 21 Seahawks 87-34 0.719
Plays/Drive 6.134 4 Patriots 5.852 23 Cardinals 64-35 0.646
Penalty Yds / Play 0.749 6 Falcons 1.214 1 Colts 68-40 0.630
RB Success 41.5% 25 Patriots 43.1% 12 Buccaneers 56-64 0.467
Yds/Carry 3.82 23 Vikings 4.74 28 Buccaneers 58-56 0.509
Overall 14 Patriots 32 Cardinals

A couple thoughts:

  • The Colts still haven't pulled themselves out of the basement on Defense, as those top-line stats just aren't getting better enough to jump the Bills. If you're interested in just the unadjusted numbers, the Colts sit 27th against the league's easiest schedule.
  • The Colts Offense is still hovering just above average, with several categories ranking in the top 10. I think this unit is capable of putting together a really good game. Hopefully we see it in January.

Week-by-Week Comparisons:

Colts Opponent Non-Adjusted Adjusted
Week Offense Defense Total Offense Defense Total
1 Bears 355 322 391 231 363 326
2 Vikings 235 346 317 264 348 352
3 Jaguars 184 182 135 256 352 351
4 BYE
5 Packers 211 173 147 147 121 65
6 Jets 363 440 454 359 479 477
7 Browns 122 348 222 117 428 303
8 Titans 55 413 223 82 460 305
9 Dolphins 37 391 186 45 446 237
10 Jaguars 101 79 36 169 202 153
11 Patriots 232 474 433 235 439 414
12 Bills 202 198 162 324 221 309
13 Lions 303 213 281 312 177 252
14 Titans 250 216 229 351 313 393
15 Texans 331 362 409 212 403 361
16 Chiefs 259 211 237 355 334 412

The numbers are by no means pretty, and at most times baffling, but the Colts are riding the wave of a very favorable schedule, the ability to never truly be out of games, and finding ways to come up with big plays when they need them. We'll worry about the low numbers later. For now it's better to just sit back and enjoy the ride. It's been great so far.

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