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Week 15: Colts Offense by the Numbers

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NFL: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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.

27 points may not seem like a towering accomplishment, but on only 7 drives it is really good. The Colts offense failed to convert only 4 series of downs the whole game, with 2 of them being successful field goals. That is why they stacked up an 83.3% drive success rate.


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

The offense ranked 12th in total points on the week but 4th in points per drive. That garnered good value per play (4th EPA/ply) which helped move the chains (6th 1st/ply, 9th DSR).

For the season, the offense has been clawing their way up the rankings. They now sit with the 11th best scoring efficiency (adj ppd), 7th best play efficiency (EPA/ply) and 9th best conversion rate (1st/ply). They jumped 4 spots this week in offensive DVOA landing at 12th (8th prior to opponent adjustment).


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

For the 3rd week in a row Philip Rivers is a top 10 passer in efficiency (8th EPA/ply). His yardage per dropback remains high (7.4 NY/db 11th). His first down conversion rate was a below average 33.3% (19th), but his 53.3% success rate made up for it, putting the run game in a position to successfully move the ball (see rush totals).

He has only averaged a bit over 260 net yards a game, so he’ll be called a game manager, but as long as the run game can chip in another 100+, that puts the team in a position to win.

On the year, Rivers is easily been a top 10 QB. The Rivers/Brissett combo ranks 7th in EPA/play (Rivers solo is 5th) and Football Outsiders puts him 7th in DYAR and 8th in DVOA.


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

Another great rushing week:

  • #1 in first down conversion rate
  • #2 in adj rush success rate
  • #3 in EPA/ply
  • #5 in ypc which is a terribly biased stat that no one should use but when we crack the top 5 I’m going to mention it.

On the year, I have the Colts rushing game as second most efficient. That doesn’t mean 2nd best. It just means that when we do decide to run, then on average, we get the 2nd best outcomes of any team . . . wait, that kind of sounds like 2nd best. Oh well, take it how you will.


This was another solidly good performance by an offense that seems to be clicking at the right time, which is good because the Colts are traveling to Pittsburgh, home of the best defense in the league.

Not only do the Steelers rank #1 in defensive DVOA, but they also give up the 2nd lowest points per drive (1.45) and are 1 of only 2 teams to yield < 300 yards per game. Against them, opponent offenses earn the lowest drive success rate (65.5%) and the lowest first down conversion rate (25%). The Steeler defense ranks 2nd in takeaways at 1.8 per game. So, scariest environment imaginable. Thanks, that’s all you gotta say; scariest environment imaginable.

Through the air, they rank #1 in DVOA, #2 in EPA per dropback against (-0.16), #1 in passer success rating (38%), #1 in sacks per game (3.4), #1 in opponent passing first down conversion rate, #2 in net yardage efficiency given up and opponent QBs have the worst accuracy against them (-5.2% cpoe).

The good news is that against the run they are much worse only ranking 3rd best by DVOA. Uncoincidentally, I also have them at #3 in defensive adj rushing success rate. They give up the 5th lowest first down conversion rate and the 7th lowest unadjusted success rate. But hey, they are only 12th in yards per carry against. If only that meant anything.

It may look bleak, but remember, nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?