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Week 5: Colts Defense by the Numbers

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Indianapolis Colts v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/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 the mouse-over text at the top of the charts or link to Season Stats. Thanks to Pro Football Reference,, Football Outsiders and the nflFastR project for being awesome sources of weekly data.

Giving up 32 23 points isn’t anything to get too excited about, but it could have been a lot worse.

In the first half, the Colts defense let Baker Mayfield have his way with them, allowing a ridiculous 0.62 EPA per dropback and leading the team to 4 scores with an 89% Drive Success Rate (DSR). In the second half, they managed to shut the gates preventing the game from being a joke. Well, preventing the defense from being a joke.


Mouseover for definitions: Adj PPD, PPG, Yds, P/R%, DSR, xOPPD, Strt Fld, EPA/ply, wTSR, 1st/ply, Pen 1st/ Yds, 3DC, 3rd ytg, Expl Plys, TO, TOP%

The 19th points per drive ranking is a bit harsher then the other critical stats: DSR against (17th), EPA per play against (12th EPA/ply), play success rate against (13th wTSR), conversion rate against (16th 1st/ply). All in all, I would rank this a bit below average for the week.

On the year, the Colts D is #1 or #2 in most of the stats I track and Football Outsiders gives them a clear #1 ranking in DVOA, which adjusts for opponent.


Mouseover definitions: EPA/db, PSR, wPSR, Cmp, Att, Yds, TD, Int, Sk, Sk Y, 1st/db, NY/A, Cmp %, aDOT, cpoe, YBC, YAC, 20+ #/Yd

Overall, Mayfield had a good game. It would have been great had the game ended at the half, but the Colts shut him down the last two quarters. So the numbers hover above average, but outside the top 10 for all QBs.

Nothing really jumps out other than the 2 picks. His accuracy was poor (-5.2% cpoe, 57.9 cmp%) but he moved the ball well and got a lot of first downs with his arm (8th 1st/db). He had decent yardage efficiency (11th NY/db) and he did it with the 4th longest avg completed air yards of any QB.

The Browns got the better of the Colts through the air.


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

Against the run, though, the defense had an outstanding day. Cleveland is #4 in rushing DVOA, averaging 200 yards a game. The Colts put a lid on that allowing only about half that production at 3.4 yards per carry, which is well below the season average 5.9 they started the game with.

On the week, the Browns had the 9th lowest rushing conversion rate (1st/c), which drove the 6th lowest rushing success rate (RSR). Adjust for situation and that drops to the 5th worst weighted success rate (wRSR). They were also bottom ten in EPA efficiency (EPA/c).


The Colts defense forced the Browns to try and win through the air . . . which they did. I mean it was a good game plan, but the defense gave up too much early and Rivers tried to play hero-ball.

Next, Matt Eberflus and the boys face Joe Burrow. I have watched 0 Bengal games this year, so I am winging this analysis with stats alone. Football Outsider’s ranks him 29th in DYAR. ESPN ranks him 29th in QBR and I rank him 27th in EPA/db. So, after careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that Joe Burrow isn’t very good.

As far as the rushing game goes, the news doesn’t get any better for the Bengals. 29th in DVOA and 29th in wRSR makes me think they can’t run either.

You would think that a team that can’t pass and can’t run wouldn’t be able to score and you would be right. With 1.67 points per drive, the Bengals are the 29th lowest scoring offense of any team.

If the Colts defense is a unit that feasts on easy prey, then the Cincinnati offense should be a good meal.