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2016 NFL Week 5: Inside the Colts Numbers - Winning Ugly

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The Colts didn't play much different than they did in their three losses this season, but this time they came out on the right end of the coin flip, winning 29-23. How long will the same issues continue to linger and keep the Colts from improving, and will it matter if they start pulling out wins like Sunday?

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We've talked numerous times about how teams can play poorly but still come out on the winning end, as well as the opposite of that, and it really doesn't surprise me. A well-timed turnover, a special teams TD, or any number of other things can influence a game on the scoreboard but have the opposite effect over the course of the entire game. The Colts played one of those games Sunday, not playing particularly well, but better than their opponent when they needed to be, winning 29-23 against the Bears, putting them right back in the AFC South race, thanks to the Texans losing in Minnesota.

The game Sunday didn't follow the typical script of Colts games, but there was just that feeling throughout that the Colts should have been pulling away, but they kept letting the Bears hang around and hang around, even giving them the lead in the 4th quarter, but ultimately fizzling out just outside the Colts Red Zone, thanks in large part to a holding call on 3rd down. The Colts stopped them on the final two plays, and a 13 yard run on first down by Frank Gore sealed the Colts second victory of the season.

As a quick aside on taking the penalty there on 3rd and 15, if you go straight off of win probabilities, it would have been slightly better to decline the penalty and force them into 4th and 5 (79.83% to 80.65%), but I'm not going to quibble too much the decision. When they are that close I'm good with going on a personal preference, which presumably Chuck Pagano did.

We all know that the Colts play in a lot of close games, and have won many more than they've lost. But according to Elias, Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton is the most prolific duo in the NFL:

Andrew Luck's 35-yard scoring pass to T.Y. Hilton with 3:43 remaining was the game-winning touchdown in the Colts' victory over the Bears. It was the fourth game-winning TD pass from Luck to Hilton in the last 4:00 of the fourth quarter, all of them since 2013. No other pair of teammates has combined for that many game-winning TD pass plays in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter over the last four seasons.

It's good those two have been able to connect so often late in games to pull out victories, but at a certain point it'd be nice to not need late-game heroics to win every game.

Let's jump into the stats, where you'll see where the Colts struggled, and just how similar this game was to the other three they've lost this season.

Non-Adjusted Stats for Week 5:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 71.0% 15 77.1% 22 N N 6-3
ANPY/A 7.682 10 10.163 26 N N 4-0
Turnovers 0 1 1 9 N N 6-2
Yds/Drive 36.00 9 52.20 28 N N 6-2
ToP/Drive 2:43.2 16 3:00.5 17 N Y 7-1
Yds/Play 6.092 6 8.419 28 N N 3-2
Orange Zone Eff 57.1% 14 46.9% 6 Y N 2-4
First Downs/Drive 1.82 14 2.50 24 N N 6-2
3rd/4th Down 30.8% 18 20.0% 3 N N 6-1
Avg Start Pos 30.9 9 21.5 6 Y N 10-1
3 and Outs 3 7 2 23 N N 7-1
RZ Eff 71.4% 12 61.9% 5 Y N 1-5
Plays/Drive 5.909 12 6.200 18 N N 7-1
Penalty Yds / Play 1.046 21 1.290 4 N N 5-3
RB Success 46.7% 15 38.9% 6 Y N 2-5
Yds/Carry 4.67 9 6.58 27 N N 3-5
Ranking - Week (28) 10 21 16
Ranking - Season (154) 53 115 96

Adjusted Stats for Week 5:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 73.3% 10 79.8% 25 N N 6-3
ANPY/A 7.695 8 9.676 27 N N 4-0
Turnovers 0.3 7 0.8 18 N N 6-2
Yds/Drive 37.36 9 50.62 28 N N 6-2
ToP/Drive 2:41.8 18 3:09.7 23 N Y 7-1
Yds/Play 6.215 7 8.014 27 N N 3-2
Orange Zone Eff 61.9% 11 53.3% 12 Y N 2-4
First Downs/Drive 1.97 10 2.53 26 N N 6-2
3rd/4th Down 30.3% 19 28.9% 7 N N 6-1
Avg Start Pos 27.9 15 23.1 7 Y N 10-1
3 and Outs 2.5 8 2.0 27 N N 7-1
RZ Eff 73.6% 12 66.9% 10 Y N 1-5
Plays/Drive 6.052 10 6.404 25 N N 7-1
Penalty Yds / Play 1.058 23 1.357 3 N N 5-3
RB Success 47.1% 17 39.7% 8 Y N 2-5
Yds/Carry 4.71 9 6.43 28 N N 3-5
Ranking - Week (28) 10 27 21
Ranking - Season (154) 38 143 109

Some thoughts:

  • I painted a pretty morbid scene about the game Sunday, but in all honesty the Offense played pretty well, with one of the glaring weaknesses was their lack of Touchdowns scored instead of field goals, even though their ranks were middle-of-the-pack. Another 4 points would have made the ending a lot less tense.
  • They didn't commit any turnovers, which is always a good thing and makes it much easier to win games. More of these games please.
  • Lots of stats in the top 10, which is about where their league standing is overall (as you'll see down below), so they were right on where they've been this year, and they've been pretty good.
  • Along with the Red and Orange Zone stats I referenced above, the 3rd/4th down numbers weren't all that good either. At least it seemed they stopped when they were in field goal range.
  • The Defense? Yikes. They were the 2nd worst pass Defense of the weekend, giving up nearly 10 Adjusted Yards per Pass Attempt, and gave up over 50 yards per drive, and it was the 4th worst game of the whole NFL season so far.
  • The Rushing Defensive stats are interesting as well. Lots of runs were unsuccessful, but they got a lot of yards running the ball, gaining over 6.5 yards per carry. There was the big 57 yard run by Jordan Howard that is also skewing things here as well, which is why I like the Success Rate stat better.
  • The Bears were only 20% on 3rd/4th Down, which was the other really good thing the Defense did. So how do they have such awful drive stats? They kept converting first downs before getting to third down, which is obviously a problem.

Season Stats through Week 5 (Adjusted):

Statistic Offense Rank Best Defense Rank Best Record Win %
DSR 71.7% 8 Falcons 74.2% 27 Texans 26-5 0.839
ANPY/A 5.806 15 Falcons 6.939 29 Broncos 31-1 0.969
Turnovers 1.41 9 Bills 1.29 27 Cardinals 34-9 0.791
Yds/Drive 31.08 13 Falcons 35.92 32 Ravens 22-5 0.815
ToP/Drive 2:41.0 17 Cowboys 2:47.0 22 Texans 29-13 0.690
Yds/Play 5.277 17 Falcons 6.067 31 Broncos 17-6 0.739
Orange Zone Eff 59.8% 11 49ers 57.2% 21 Rams 21-10 0.677
First Downs/Drive 1.85 8 Cowboys 2.00 31 Texans 25-9 0.735
3rd/4th Down 39.1% 16 Saints 40.3% 21 Texans 22-6 0.786
Avg Start Pos 27.6 31 Eagles 27.6 7 Patriots 33-14 0.702
3 and Outs 3.53 13 Redskins 3.38 21 Texans 21-11 0.656
RZ Eff 77.5% 3 Saints 67.9% 18 Rams 23-13 0.639
Plays/Drive 5.877 7 Cowboys 5.864 23 Texans 26-13 0.667
Penalty Yds / Play 0.896 21 49ers 1.150 1 Colts 25-14 0.641
RB Success 46.4% 11 Panthers 48.6% 27 Ravens 14-21 0.400
Yds/Carry 4.12 19 Bills 4.66 28 Packers 14-20 0.412
Overall 8 Falcons 30 Texans

A couple thoughts:

  • Here's your firepower when people talk about Andrew Luck being the problem with the 2016 Colts: Offense is 8th overall in the NFL, while the Defense is 30th. Which side is the problem here? What's worse is the Defense/Special Teams is giving the Offense the 2nd worst Starting Field Position in the league, so they're doing it with almost the longest fields to go.
  • I really like seeing a top 10 ranking in Turnovers, as they've been awful at this the last two seasons. Please keep this up.
  • The Defense is bad, only being slightly below average in the Red Zone, but much worse everywhere else, including dead last in Yards per Drive.

Week-to-Week Comparision:

Colts Opponent Non-Adjusted Adjusted
Week Offense Defense Total Offense Defense Total
1 Lions 5 151 80 19 146 98
2 Broncos 101 123 132 72 131 124
3 Chargers 55 55 33 47 60 34
4 Jaguars 73 72 65 98 107 122
5 Bears 53 115 96 38 143 109

Look at this week's game and the three the Colts have lost, and you'll see they are incredibly consistent (but sadly not good), and they all saw the Colts have a chance to win in the end, but only came out on the winning side once. Quite honestly, I think they're lucky to have gotten one of those games with how poorly they've played, but these were all games they've won 75% of the time in previous seasons, so they've never faced this kind of scrutiny before, even though they absolutely should have for winning all those close games. These are the things I hope you're learning from all these stats: Wins and losses are the public face of the team, but you can tell a lot more when you look a little deeper.