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Week 9: Colts Defense by the Numbers

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NFL: NOV 08 Ravens at Colts Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via 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 Season Stats. Thanks to Pro Football Reference,, Football Outsiders and the nflFastR project for being awesome sources of weekly data.

In week 9, the Baltimore Ravens offense was stifled for most of the game by the Indianapolis Colts defense. The Ravens Drive Success Rate of 70.4% barely eclipsed that of the Colts offense (69%) as they only put up 17 offensive points against the Colts 10.

The Ravens’ first TD came from their defense, the 2nd was on a short field gifted by the refs/defense. It was really only their TD on their 8th drive where the Colts defense looked bad allowing Lamar Jackson to move his team 75 yards off of 6 first down conversions, none by penalty.


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 6th fewest points per drive, 8th lowest DSR and 9th lowest conversion rate all confirm that that Colts D prevented Baltimore from moving the ball. On the season, the defense ranks #2 in all of those stats.


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

Lamar Jackson had a low volume game, but was efficient when he did throw the ball (14th highest EPA/ply, 13th highest wPSR). He accomplished this by having the league’s 2nd highest completion rate on the shortest average passes (83% cmp, 3.7 aDOT).

The Colts dared him to win with his arm and he did that underneath.

On the year the Colts defense have held opposing QBs to the 5th lowest EPA efficiency, the 7th lowest yardage efficiency (NY/db), the 8th lowest success rate (PSR) and the 8th lowest passing conversion rate (1st/db). Football Outsiders says we have the 5th best passing defense and I can see why.


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

Coming into the game, the Baltimore Ravens averaged 159 yards on the ground (ignoring QB scrambles). The Colts held them to 93 and the 8th lowest yards per carry on the week, with the 10th lowest EPA per carry.

However, Baltimore managed 8 first downs and 2 rushing TDs, so the overall success rate against slipped to 15th.

On the year, the Colts defense is 2nd in yards per carry against, 7th in EPA per carry against, 4th in conversion rate against and 7th in success rate given up. Football Outsiders ranks them the #2 rushing defense.


The defense once again played well, limiting the opponent offense to 17 points which usually translates to a victory, but not this time.

On Thursday Night Football, they face born-again Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry and the 3rd ranked Tennessee offense. This team can score, putting up 29.7 points per game and 2.78 points per drive both ranked 7th highest in the league. Their per play efficiency ranks 3rd (EPA/ply) and they move the ball with the best of them (9th DSR, 10th 1st/ply).

I have read many people trying to diminish Ryan Tannehill, giving credit to Henry or the receivers or scheme. Feel free to rate him how you want, but there is no doubt that the Titan passing game is for real. Tannehill is putting up about 250 yards a game and has the 3rd highest season EPA/ply and the 8th highest NY/db. Football Outsiders ranks their passing offense as 2nd, only behind KC.

The only good news is that he has been trending down and his last few weeks haven’t been that great.

On the ground, they average 144 yards per game, with the 4th highest yards per carry (4.9) and the 4th highest EPA per carry. Football Outsiders calls them the 7th best run game, which I won’t argue with.

This will be by far the best offense the Colts have faced yet and they have to do it on a short week. This is a game that has 0 margin for error.