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, NFL.com, Football Outsiders and the nflFastR project for being awesome sources of weekly data.
Last week, I said I liked how the Colts offense matched up against the Tennessee Titans defense and boy, did they prove me right. The Colts steamrolled the Titans all night, moving the ball almost at will. 26 first downs on 31 series ties for a season best 83.9% Drive Success Rate.
The offensive output of 3.38 points per drive was accompanied by the 3rd highest DSR, the 2nd highest EPA per play and the 2nd highest play success rate (wTSR). This was a very impressive effort from the offense at a critical time of the season.
On the year, the cumulative offensive production leaves a lot to be desired, ranking 20th in points per drive. The silver lining is that the drivers of those points shows an offense that is a bit better than that (15th DSR, 12th 1st/ply) and is trending up.
Philip Rivers efficiency was second only to an outstanding game from Tom Brady. Rivers had the highest success rate (PSR) of any QB and turned in the 6th best yardage efficiency (NY/db).
He accomplished that with high accuracy (5th cpoe) on short passes (27th aDOT). It seemed clear that that was the plan all along and it worked beautifully for this game. However, that is not a sustainable formula long term. He is going to have to return to throwing longer passes.
On the season, the passing game has been about average oscillating between pretty good and pretty not so good.
The rushing game came out to play as well. 11 first downs and 2 TDs on 29 carries are numbers I will take any day.
While the efficiency wasn’t great ( 10th ypc, 15th EPA/c), you really can’t judge the run that way when you are up 2+ scores with 12 minutes left. Accounting for game script, the weighted rushing success was #2 on the week.
On the year, I rank the Colts’ run game much higher than most. I get that yards per carry is terrible (26th), but that is simply the wrong way to look at it, as there are so many game specific variables that drive that number down (game script, down, distance etc.).
Our rushers convert 25% of their carries into first downs, which is 12th best. We also have the 15th ranked rushing TD rate and the 9th most rushing TDs per game. The bottom line is the rushing game is helping the team move the chains and score at a much higher rate than most teams and they are doing it at critical times.
CONCLUSION AND LOOK AHEAD
Just a great effort for the offense this game.
Last week, I said the Titans are a good team, but their strength is not their defense. This week, I say the same about the Green Bay Packers. The Pack gives up the 11th fewest points per drive (2.2 Adj PPD) and the 9th fewest yards. However, just like the Titans, I think the Green Bay defense is worse than what the numbers imply.
They rank 15th in first down conversions against and their EPA per play given up is 16th. Opposing team success rate is similarly about average (wTSR 16th against). This all implies that teams are leaving points on the field and Football Outsiders agrees with me ranking their defense 16th. Green Bay doesn’t get many turnovers (31st) so if the Colts can minimize their mistakes, they should be able move the ball well.
Opposing QBs have the 12th highest passing success against the Green Bay defense but only the 18th highest EPA/ply. This implies that Green Bay has trouble stopping the pass but does not give up big plays. That sounds like the yin to Rivers’ yang.
On the ground, the Packers D isn’t very good. Football Outsiders ranks them 22nd by DVOA and I have them 23rd in rushing success rate (wRSR). They give up the 4th highest first down conversion rate which matches up well with the Colts style of rushing.
Similar to last week, I really like this match-up. I think the Colts dink and dunk again with Rivers carving them up underneath and the rushers moving the chains.