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2015 NFL Week 16: Inside the Colts Numbers - Streak Ender

Like most wins this season, the Colts didn't play very well, but they found a way at the end to hold onto a 18-12 win in Miami against the Dolphins, and along with some help elsewhere, kept their miniscule Playoff chances alive.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts ended their three game losing streak Sunday afternoon, defeating the Dolphins 18-12, thanks to a red zone stop in the final minute that finished with a blown call from the Dolphins Offensive Line, leading to a race to the QB for the Colts Defensive Linemen. It ended a three game losing streak (keeping the win 3 / lose 3 streak going at 18 games), and thanks to a couple wins Sunday/Monday, the Colts are still mathematically alive for a Playoff spot.

Matt Hasselbeck has been tempting fate each of the last four weeks, and Sunday proved to be the final straw for his broken body, suffering a shoulder injury just before halftime that appears to have ended his season. To add to the craziness of the Colts QB position, Charlie Whitehurst was scrambling away from Damontre Moore and pulled his hamstring, which has put him on IR and unavailable this week. Had the Dolphins scored late and given the Colts some time, it would have been Stephen Morris making his NFL debut trying to win the game. Seeing as the Colts signed two QBs Tuesday, I doubt he would have been successful.

I hadn't realized until during the game that this was the first game Frank Gore played in Miami since his college days, as I had just assumed he played there at some point with the 49ers, but apparently he was hurt the one time they did. He had one of his best games as a Colt, rushing for 85 yards on just 15 carries and a pair of touchdowns from 37 and 11 yards out. I think his fate with the Colts will be largely decided by whether the front office changes, as I'm guessing a new GM will probably decide to go with a younger option, despite Gore being an OK addition in 2015. A bigger discussion is warranted, but that's for the offseason.

While the Colts won, and the raw stats look pretty good, you'll see why adjusting for opponent is necessary to do any statistical comparisons.

Non-Adjusted Stats for Week 16:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 73.3% 9 74.2% 25 N N 3-0
ANPY/A 5.419 21 5.318 10 N N 7-1
Turnovers 0 1 1 12 N N 7-0
Yds/Drive 26.80 26 40.11 29 N Y 4-2
ToP/Drive 2:43.1 19 3:38.8 28 N Y 7-2
Yds/Play 4.963 23 5.232 15 N N 5-2
Orange Zone Eff 47.6% 21 37.1% 7 N N 5-1
First Downs/Drive 2.00 9 2.44 29 N N 2-0
3rd/4th Down 50.0% 5 37.5% 13 Y N 6-3
Avg Start Pos 21.6 27 19.9 3 N N 7-1
3 and Outs 2 7 2 19 N N 2-1
RZ Eff 100.0% 1 37.1% 2 Y N 4-2
Plays/Drive 5.400 22 7.667 30 N Y 4-3
Penalty Yds / Play 1.111 25 0.725 19 N Y 4-3
RB Success 40.9% 19 41.7% 15 N N 3-4
Yds/Carry 4.35 15 3.28 11 Y N 6-4
Ranking - Week (32) 12 24 18
Ranking - Season (480) 181 331 277

Adjusted Stats for Week 16:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 68.8% 23 78.7% 29 N N 3-0
ANPY/A 3.899 27 5.992 16 N N 7-1
Turnovers 0.5 8 1.1 18 N N 7-0
Yds/Drive 23.21 29 43.73 31 N Y 4-2
ToP/Drive 2:24.2 25 4:00.3 31 N Y 7-2
Yds/Play 4.566 28 5.429 14 N N 5-2
Orange Zone Eff 49.3% 22 37.8% 4 N N 5-1
First Downs/Drive 1.77 18 2.62 31 N N 2-0
3rd/4th Down 43.6% 11 48.1% 24 Y N 6-3
Avg Start Pos 20.3 28 22.4 7 N N 7-1
3 and Outs 2.5 17 1.3 25 N N 2-1
RZ Eff 93.5% 6 42.4% 2 Y N 4-2
Plays/Drive 5.137 26 8.138 32 N Y 4-3
Penalty Yds / Play 1.028 22 0.545 24 N Y 4-3
RB Success 39.0% 22 43.0% 15 N N 3-4
Yds/Carry 4.29 16 3.27 6 Y N 6-4
Ranking - Week (32) 26 24 29
Ranking - Season (480) 292 372 388

Some thoughts:

  • You'll notice a big difference in the Offensive Ranking between the Adjusted and Non-Adjusted tables, and I think there are two reasons the gap is so large. First, the Dolphins Defense is terrible, ranking 31st, so the stats won't look nearly as good as they do normally because they can't stop anyone. Second, this week was a good week for Offenses, as the Season Ranking is a lot better than what the weekly one shows. If I had to put a phrase on it, I'd say "slightly below average", which is an improvement over what we've seen over the past month.
  • No turnovers and 50% on 3rd/4th downs are a big reason for the good looking raw numbers. The 3rd/4th down numbers have been atrocious as of late, so this was obviously an area of emphasis in practice this week.
  • Less than 30 yards per drive is about what you'd expect with these Quarterbacks, and only two drives were longer than 40 yards (75 and 80), both TD drives. I've said all along expect two to three decent drives, which is exactly what we saw.
  • I already talked about the two red zone stops by the Colts Defense, which included an interception in the end zone by former Dolphin Vontae Davis and the game-ending stop on 4th down late in the game on a blown play, which was set up by a really nice play by Darius Butler on 3rd down. You can see ranks of 4th and 2nd in Orange and Red Zone Efficiencies for your proof.
  • The problem was they let the Dolphins drive up and down the field way more than they should have, allowing five drives of 66 yards or more. See ranks of 29th, 31st, 31st, 31st, and 32nd in our major drive stats.

Season Stats through Week 16 (Adjusted):

Statistic Offense Rank Best Defense Rank Best Record Win %
DSR 66.5% 26 Cardinals 71.3% 22 Broncos 84-12 0.875
ANPY/A 4.205 31 Cardinals 6.215 23 Broncos 97-15 0.866
Turnovers 2.23 31 Chiefs 1.77 12 Cardinals 96-31 0.756
Yds/Drive 26.23 26 Cardinals 32.34 25 Broncos 75-19 0.798
ToP/Drive 2:32.0 24 Cowboys 2:46.0 23 Panthers 95-36 0.725
Yds/Play 4.752 31 Cardinals 5.574 26 Broncos 84-26 0.764
Orange Zone Eff 54.0% 19 Seahawks 54.9% 18 Bengals 86-23 0.789
First Downs/Drive 1.60 22 Saints 1.74 21 Texans 79-27 0.745
3rd/4th Down 39.4% 15 Seahawks 43.0% 27 Rams 76-29 0.724
Avg Start Pos 28.6 21 Chiefs 29.3 13 Seahawks 90-26 0.776
3 and Outs 4.40 28 Vikings 3.15 24 Panthers 66-31 0.680
RZ Eff 64.0% 17 Raiders 69.6% 23 Jets 83-31 0.728
Plays/Drive 5.570 20 Chargers 5.784 22 Texans 75-43 0.636
Penalty Yds / Play 0.818 18 Jets 1.012 3 Cardinals 62-54 0.534
RB Success 41.9% 26 Seahawks 43.5% 15 Broncos 53-59 0.473
Yds/Carry 3.92 21 Bills 4.33 22 Broncos 54-51 0.514
Overall 26 Cardinals 21 Broncos

Some thoughts:

  • Not a whole lot changing here on either side, as they played mediocre against a bad team.
  • The top two stats, Drive Success Rate and Adjusted Net Passing Yards per Attempt, have a comfortable lead over all the other stats in terms of producing winners, both over 85%.
  • The Cardinals have moved into the #1 spot overall in the Winning Stats, as they're the best team at moving the ball on Offense, and best in the NFL at getting Turnovers, a lethal combo. I think they are the team to beat this January/February, much to the chagrin of my Panthers future.

Week-to-Week Comparison:

Colts Opponent Non-Adjusted Adjusted
Week Offense Defense Total Offense Defense Total
1 Bills 174 419 356 230 418 398
2 Jets 413 289 417 334 299 369
3 Titans 260 281 289 264 385 390
4 Jaguars 349 215 312 446 292 437
5 Texans 59 367 168 24 410 173
6 Patriots 108 342 203 59 267 93
7 Saints 441 198 391 478 137 409
8 Panthers 462 47 286 417 35 205
9 Broncos 51 210 60 8 261 39
10 BYE
11 Falcons 367 121 246 433 114 305
12 Buccaneers 70 213 71 160 247 177
13 Steelers 469 423 477 473 406 475
14 Jaguars 468 277 440 476 345 468
15 Texans 429 152 345 407 248 391
16 Dolphins 181 331 277 292 372 388

The Colts overall played an almost identical game to the one from a week ago, with the main difference being the Texans are at least close to average, while the Dolphins are at the bottom of the NFL. It also helped they got two red zone stops in the red zone without giving up any points, something they didn't do the week before. Amazingly, these two games are very similar to the first three games the Colts played this season. While we saw flashes of brilliance, these numbers paint a very clear picture: the Colts were consistently not a very good team this year. And that fact is going to be the reason for the house cleaning we're all expecting to happen.