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Indianapolis Colts by the Numbers: Wild Card Weekend Defensive Stats

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Wild Card Round - Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Every week, I will present a summary of some basic and advanced stats for the Colts performance relative to the league. Thanks to Pro Football Reference, and the nflSCrapR project for being awesome sources of weekly data.

Sometimes numbers just don’t capture what happened in a game. They don’t really lie as much as they tell “you had to be there” stories. Okay, they lie.

Last Saturday, the Colts gave up only 7 points to the Texans, which in anybody’s book is an outstanding defensive effort. However, Houston managed to grab 20 first downs and put up a 71% Drive Success Rate, both of which are decent numbers.

So, then was the Indy defense bad? No, damn it! Aren’t you paying attention!

The Colt’s defense set the tone early. The first 3 drives for Houston yielded 43 yards, 2 first downs, a pick and 0 points. And while Deshaun Watson was marginally more successful on the following drive, the Texans were already down by 21 and aggressive play gave the ball up on downs.

The second half was more of the same until the last 2 drives, when, with a 3 score deficit, Houston was finally “able” to consistently move the ball. The garbage time effort lifted their numbers, obscuring a truly dominant Colts defensive effort underneath.


The Adjusted Points per Drive Against are of course fantastic. The Yards per Play is great. Third Down Conversions, Yards to Go on 3rd, 1st downs on Penalties . . . great, great and great.

DSR . . . lies! That and the overall 1st down conversion % look just average when in fact they were far better. The totals include the volume of first downs given up (almost willingly) on the final two drives. Prior to then, Indy had held the Texans to only 9 first downs on 7 drives and a 64% DSR.

My goal in the off-season will be to develop a weighted DSR that de-values garbage time production.


This ain’t no lie. The Indianapolis defense stonewalled the Houston passing game.

On 52 drop-backs, Watson was only able to manage 13 first downs for a measly 25% conversion rate. His completions were ridiculously short, averaging 3.3 yards through the air with the Colts defense giving up only 4.8 Yards After the Catch. His already low Yards per Attempt were chopped down even more in ANY/A by a pick and 3 sacks.


Unfortunately, these numbers don’t lie either. Game script prevented Houston from running a lot, but when they did they were good at it. 4 explosive plays, 2 of 4 on 3rd down conversions, 7 total first downs and 6.6 Yards per Carry add up to an almost 70% rushing success rate. Yikes!

These are by far, the worst efficiency numbers the Colts defense has given up all year.


While the rush was not defended well, it had little impact on the game as Houston threw on 76% of their plays. And since the Colts passing defense was 100% awesome that means that 76% of the time it worked every time. Great effort. Great result.

It was good to see the Colts D shut down the pass, especially as they head into KCMO (that’s Kansas City, Missouri not to be confused with KCK). Looking at the match-ups for this Saturday is more than a little concerning. The Chiefs have dominated the league all year in offensive production. I have seen a lot of posts that have tried to rationalize their offense as over-rated due to schedule. Don’t believe it.

Football Outsiders does a lot of fancy DVOA math that adjusts for opponent and they rank the KC pass and run game as 1st and 4th, respectively. Hey! Those are the same rankings I came up with! I think I may be awesome.

Here are my pass (ANY/A) and rush (wRSR) rankings.


Rank Ind Def KC Off
Rank Ind Def KC Off
Pass 9th 1st
Rush 6th 4th

The Chiefs are, by far, better than any offense the Colts have played this year. Even if the Colts can build a lead, the game script will still have Patrick Mahomes doing Mahomesy things. The defense will need to play mistake-free ball if the Colts are to have a shot at the upset.


The data for playoff teams is 6 weeks trailing.

This trailing data has the Colts as #1 in points per drive allowed but I am raking them by DSR against which is 14th. The “truth” is probably somewhere in between.

SEASON TOTALS (per game)