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2014 NFL Week Seven: Inside the Colts Numbers

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The best defensive performance by the Colts since 2001? Go Inside the Numbers to find out just how dominant the Colts were in their 27-0 shutout over the Bengals.

Kirk Irwin

I've been keeping NFL stats since the start of the 2001 season, and I don't very often have a reason or opportunity to look back into the wayback machine to see just how good a performance might have been when measured against history. Sunday's 27-0 shutout of the Bengals was a great reason to look up past history and see just what kind of day the Colts had on Defense.

A quick recap if you didn't watch or haven't looked at any stats: The Bengals didn't achieve a first down at all until there was less than a minute remaining in the first half, and that was the penalty/ejection of Erik Walden. They did get a legitimate first down on the next set of downs, but the first half was over right after that. Eight straight drives with a 3 and Out. When was the last time that happened? From Elias:

The Colts shut out the Bengals, 27-0, as Cincinnati went three-and-out 10 times, including each of its first eight possessions of the game. That was the longest streak of three-and-outs - that is, a drive lasting exactly three plays from scrimmage and ending with a punt - since the Raiders went three-and-out on nine straight possessions in a 7-6 win over the Chargers in 1998.

They had a total of 8 first downs the entire game. It was just total domination. But how does it stack up against every other Colts Defensive game since 2001? Very, very well.

Opponent Year Week Score Pct. Score
Bengals 2014 7 27-0 85.0%
Ravens 2008 6 31-3 83.3%
Steelers 2005 12 26-7 82.6%
Titans 2003 2 33-7 78.5%
Chargers 2007 10 21-23 77.9%
Texans 2013 15 25-3 77.6%
Texans 2011 16 19-16 77.6%
Saints 2007 1 41-10 75.8%
Jaguars 2013 4 37-3 75.8%
Broncos 2013 7 39-33 75.5%

Sunday's game by the Colts Defense was the best we've seen of them in 13+ years, essentially playing 85% of a perfect game. You'll see some classic games in that list, including three from last season (and even one from 2011!), but none of them were as good as Sunday's performance against the Bengals. These are adjusted for opponent, so there isn't an inherent advantage when playing a crappy team. Remember, this Bengals team scored 37 last week, which makes it better than what the raw numbers show.

Despite his elbow injury early in the game, the Colts managed to get Reggie Wayne four catches to extend his streak of consecutive games with three or more catches to 78 games, but he hit another career milestone, becoming the 9th player in NFL history to have 14,000 receiving yards, and now sits just 8 yards behind James Lofton, and 580 behind Colts legend Marvin Harrison. I'm guessing he probably won't get there this season, especially with the injury, but there is a chance he'll get there by the end of 2014.

Want to see what domination looks like in statistical form? Let's dive in and take a look.

Non-Adjusted Stats for Week 7:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 75.0% 11 36.4% 1 Y N 5-0
ANPY/A 8.523 6 2.452 3 Y N 6-1
Turnovers 2 18 0 21 N Y 3-2
Yds/Drive 38.92 7 9.64 1 Y N 9-0
ToP/Drive 3:03.3 9 1:26.9 1 Y N 9-2
Yds/Play 6.487 4 2.500 1 Y N 8-1
Orange Zone Eff 47.6% 25 0.0% 1 N N 2-4
First Downs/Drive 2.08 10 0.57 1 Y N 5-2
3rd/4th Down 38.5% 15 7.1% 1 N N 5-1
Avg Start Pos 21.4 26 26.2 15 N N 5-1
3 and Outs 5 24 10 1 N N 5-1
RZ Eff 35.7% 29 0.0% 1 N N 1-3
Plays/Drive 6.000 9 3.857 1 Y N 6-2
Penalty Yds / Play 0.731 12 0.370 27 N N 4-1
RB Success 65.6% 1 16.7% 1 Y N 5-2
Yds/Carry 5.03 6 2.67 3 Y N 4-5
Ranking - Week (30) 12 2 1
Ranking - Season (212) 89 10 22

Adjusted Stats for Week 7:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 73.9% 14 43.1% 1 Y N 5-0
ANPY/A 10.090 4 1.538 1 Y N 6-1
Turnovers 1.7 19 0.6 24 N Y 3-2
Yds/Drive 35.49 10 12.90 1 Y N 9-0
ToP/Drive 2:53.2 11 1:56.4 2 Y N 9-2
Yds/Play 6.657 3 2.508 1 Y N 8-1
Orange Zone Eff 62.1% 18 17.8% 2 N N 2-4
First Downs/Drive 1.74 17 0.87 1 Y N 5-2
3rd/4th Down 41.1% 13 21.4% 3 N N 5-1
Avg Start Pos 22.6 25 21.4 6 N N 5-1
3 and Outs 5.4 28 9.2 1 N N 5-1
RZ Eff 43.8% 28 13.8% 1 N N 1-3
Plays/Drive 5.225 21 4.600 3 Y N 6-2
Penalty Yds / Play 0.795 12 0.430 26 N N 4-1
RB Success 54.1% 6 23.6% 3 Y N 5-2
Yds/Carry 4.17 13 3.04 4 Y N 4-5
Ranking - Week (30) 15 1 2
Ranking - Season (212) 86 6 15

Some thoughts:

  • We obviously have to start with the outstanding play of the Defense, which ranked first or second on the weekend in nine different categories, including our top 2 stats. Just look at how good some of those numbers are.
  • That Drive Success Rate at 43.1% (after adjustment) is just ridiculously good. The only game better this season was the Eagles over the Giants in Week 6, also a 27-0 shutout. There's a reason that stat is on the top of every chart I produce, and the Colts are excelling at it.
  • The Bengals only crossed the Colts 35 yard line once, and got no points out of it, making it a nice looking day for the Orange/Red Zone stats, a place where the Colts have struggled this season. But nothing could go wrong Sunday, so I'm not surprised.
  • 3rd/4th Downs were once again spectacular, as the Bengals converted just 1/14 chances, making the last four weeks a combined 4/41 for the Colts Defense. I bet if you played Madden on the easiest level you couldn't get those kind of numbers. Mind-boggling.
  • I should also mention the run defense was also very good, not allowing Giovani Bernard to get going at all.
  • The Offense was overshadowed most of the day in what I'd consider a pretty "average" game, which makes sense seeing as they ranked 15th overall (out of 30 games). I'm sure there are several franchises, however, that would take the Colts "average" game each and every week.
  • The Bengals came into the game ranked 1st in our passing stat, Adjusted Passing Yards per Attempt, and the Colts carved them up all day. When this offense is clicking, nobody is stopping them.
  • Sunday was pretty much the ideal way to play Offense in today's NFL: Build a nice lead through passing the ball (with some runs sprinkled in), then put the game away by running the ball and killing clock (with a pass sprinkled in). The Colts pulled it off masterfully, obviously with some help from the Defense.
  • There are still issues in the Orange/Red Zone, and the turnovers are just killer. Obviously they didn't mean much Sunday, but eventually it's going to catch up to them (like it did against the Eagles). After watching the Steelers last night just ripping the ball out from the Texans, everyone in a Colts jersey needs to take care of the football next week and beyond.

Season Stats through Week 7 (Adjusted):

Statistic Offense Rank Best Defense Rank Best Record Win %
DSR 77.9% 2 Broncos 64.0% 3 Lions 46-3 0.939
ANPY/A 7.184 4 Broncos 4.521 4 Bengals 53-5 0.914
Turnovers 2.18 25 Packers 1.78 15 Dolphins 50-14 0.781
Yds/Drive 37.38 2 Saints 24.83 6 Lions 48-6 0.889
ToP/Drive 3:12.0 5 49ers 2:05.0 1 Colts 53-10 0.841
Yds/Play 5.899 3 Broncos 5.090 14 Broncos 42-15 0.737
Orange Zone Eff 62.7% 5 Broncos 56.7% 18 Ravens 29-12 0.707
First Downs/Drive 2.13 2 Saints 1.41 5 Lions 42-7 0.857
3rd/4th Down 45.3% 7 Cowboys 25.3% 1 Colts 45-10 0.818
Avg Start Pos 30.9 12 Dolphins 25.3 2 Chiefs 49-6 0.891
3 and Outs 3.02 9 Saints 4.89 4 Eagles 34-9 0.791
RZ Eff 70.9% 9 Broncos 70.8% 22 Ravens 24-20 0.545
Plays/Drive 6.356 3 Saints 4.853 1 Colts 36-10 0.783
Penalty Yds / Play 0.838 18 Jaguars 0.855 15 Bears 29-21 0.580
RB Success 45.2% 12 Cowboys 47.5% 25 Giants 23-30 0.434
Yds/Carry 4.10 16 Seahawks 4.96 27 Broncos 21-28 0.429
Overall 2 Broncos 5 Lions

Some thoughts:

  • If it wasn't for those darn Turnovers, the Colts would still be ranked 2nd behind the Broncos. But seriously, it's a huge blemish on an otherwise fantastic unit, ranking in the top 5 in seven of our best 8 statistics. There's really nothing else I'm disappointed in at all.
  • The Defense jumped from 16th to 5th after their epic performance, and still lead the league in Time of Possession per Drive, 3rd/4th Down Pct, and Plays per Drive, a stat that is performing much, much better than it has historically.
  • Overall the Colts are ranked 2nd in the NFL behind the Broncos, who are ranked 1st Offensively and 2nd Defensively, thanks to playing the league's toughest schedule so far.

Week-to-Week Comparison:

Colts Opponent Non-Adjusted Adjusted
Week Offense Defense Total Offense Defense Total
1 Broncos 142 177 174 72 94 64
2 Eagles 107 137 126 56 181 123
3 Jaguars 4 65 9 1 155 36
4 Titans 17 18 3 23 31 13
5 Ravens 83 14 24 82 13 18
6 Texans 45 75 43 36 113 60
7 Bengals 89 10 22 86 6 15

Look how much better that Broncos game looks after you adjust for opponent. It's starting to look statistically like it did to our eyes: the Colts didn't play terribly and had a chance to win at the end. Certainly better than what the Cardinals and 49ers did in Denver. Oh, and the Jaguars game is now the best Offensive game in the NFL this season. This team has become really, really good. Really hope it continues.