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Week 5: Colts Defense by the Numbers

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Indianapolis Colts vs Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Each week during the season, I will be walking through the data from the previous Colts game analyzing the numbers to form a sort of “what happened” narrative as well as comparing the Colts against all other teams in the league. For a glossary of the stats listed, reference Stats for the 2019 Season. Thanks to Pro Football Reference, NFL.com and the nflSCrapR project for being awesome sources of weekly data.


In a word, fantastic.

Coming into their week 5 game, the Kansas City Chiefs offense was tied for 1st in scoring, while the Indianapolis Colts defense was 29th in preventing points per drive. The Chiefs ranked at the top of the league in most passing measures, while the Colts defense ranked at the bottom. To call the Colts defense an underdog in this match-up is a disservice to the word underdog.

After the first 2 drives, the game seemed to be unfolding as expected, but then the Colts defense found their resolve. What happened next is best described by the wisdom of the venerable sage Mike Tyson, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”

After those initial drives, the Colts defense kept the Chiefs to 3 points on 7 drives, averaging 21 yards apiece and a 56% DSR. Along the way, the Colts accumulated 4 sacks, 2 turnovers 1 turnover and a turnover on downs.

The defense was brilliant. They kept arguably the best QB in the league in check. Prior to this week, 71% of KC drives entered opponent territory, but the Colts held that number to 50%.


TEAM TOTALS

Mouseover for definitions: Adj PPD, PPG, Yds, P/R%, DSR, xOPPD, Strt Fld, EPA/ply, wTSR, 1st%, Pen 1st/ Yds, 3DC, 3rd ytg, Expl Plys, TO, TOP%
This will be the first time this year, that I get to describe the defense with stats that are all much better than average. Kansas City scored only 13 points and 1.44 per drive (Adj PPD), which is about 40% of their season average and an 8th place performance for the Colts D on the week. And while the supporting stats vary somewhat in ranking, they all agree that the effort was a good one (DSR 13th, EPA/ply 10th, wTSR 5th, 1st% 15th).

One slightly bad mark is the 3 first downs the Colts gave up by penalty, which is higher than the season average coming into the game (1.5). But even when including week 5, the Colts give up just the 8th fewest first downs by penalty. They play a disciplined game, in general, and so I’m not concerned about that.

On 3rd downs, the Chiefs faced an average of 11.4 yards to go, which is a testament to the Colt’s 1st and 2nd down defensive performance. However, KC still managed to convert 13 of those downs which is a pretty high rate for the long yards to gain. It could have been a lot worse though as the Chiefs had the 2nd highest third down conversion rate coming into the game and so holding them to the 18th spot for the week is a huge success.


PASS TOTALS

Mouseover definitions: EPA/db, wPSR Cmp, Att, Yds, TD, Int, Sk, Sk Y, Rtng, 1st%, ANY/A, NY/A, YPA, Cmp %, aDOT, aYd, YAC, 20+ #/Yd
The defense made Patrick Mahomes look below average and that is no small feat. In weeks 1-4, Mahomes ranked near the top of the league in my big 4 passing stats, but this week, he ranked 20th or lower in 3 of those (EPA/ply 20th, wPSR 25th, 1st%21st).

Only in net yards per attempt did Mahomes manage a decent number finishing 11th on the week (even though he took 4 sacks). His NY/A was driven by 6 explosive plays for 158 yards that the defense yielded. That is about his season average, so while disappointing, I can’t say it was unexpected.


RUSH TOTALS

Mouseover definitions: wRSR, Yds, Car, TD, Fum Lost, RSR, 1st%, YPC, 10+ #/Yd, 3rd, 3DC

As good as the defense was against the pass, they may have been better against the rush but it’s hard to tell as KC only ran the ball 14 times. Suffice it to say that 3 first downs and 36 yards was pretty much a non-factor in the game.


CONCLUSION AND NEXT MATCH-UP

An outstanding effort by the defense is the biggest reason the Colts won this game, but can they bring that same intensity against Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans offense?

Houston scores a lot, ranking 6th in Adj PPD and they do so in a highly efficient manner (EPA/ply 4th). Watson is having a great season making a push to be a top 5 QB for the year (DYAR 5th, DVOA 5th, QBR 4th). Their run game is also strong ranking 4th in first down percentage (1st%) and 6th in overall success (wRSR).

The defense will need the bye week to rest up as week 7 doesn’t look to be any easier than week 5.


SEASON TOTALS

Mouseover for definitions: Adj PPD, PPG, Yds, P/R%, DSR, xOPPD, Strt Fld, EPA/ply, wTSR, 1st%, Pen 1st/ Yds, 3DC, 3rd ytg, Expl Plys, TO, TOP%
Mouseover definitions: EPA/db, wPSR Cmp, Att, Yds, TD, Int, Sk, Sk Y, Rtng, 1st%, ANY/A, NY/A, YPA, Cmp %, aDOT, aYd, YAC, 20+ #/Yd
Mouseover definitions: wRSR, Yds, Car, TD, Fum Lost, RSR, 1st%, YPC, 10+ #/Yd, 3rd, 3DC