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.
This week, the Colts' offense was not as efficient as they were in week 5, but they still managed more overall points off of multiple explosive plays. The Colts only converted 71.4% of their series, which is a 9.2% drop from the prior week, and ranks in the 39th percentile of all team offenses this year. However, they squeezed 3.1 points on average out of those drives, which is a +0.6 point improvement week over week.
Of the Colts' 15 first down conversions, the first 8 were delivered by Wentz’s arm and the final 7 were all on the ground.
This was an overall good performance but outside of the explosive plays, they had trouble moving the ball and if that is not corrected going forward, don’t expect similar results.
The 7th ranked points per game is the stat that matters, but again, it was driven by explosive plays, which skews it relative to the underlying drivers like the 14th ranked Drive Success Rate, 16th ranked play success rate or the 19th ranked first down conversion rate.
Don’t get me wrong, explosive plays count, but relying on them to score isn’t a long-term strategy. So all’s well that end well, but next week, let’s get some more first downs on top of the explosive plays.
When 3 of your passes result in 131 yards and 2 TDs, you are almost guaranteed a good passing day. Wentz ended up with the 9th best team passing epa efficiency of the week. However, passing success rate ranked only 19th, as outside of those 3 plays, Wentz had a paltry 4.25 net yardage efficiency and a measly 22% conversion rate.
Fortunately, the explosive plays count, but I would caution fans to focus on what the average play looks like and not the outliers, as that is the best predictor of the future. This week showed that Wentz is a deep ball threat and while we have seen all of the pieces needed for a top passing offense, week 5 against the Ravens was really the only “complete” passing game he has had so far.
On the year, I have the Colts pass game ranked 16th and trending 12th best over the past 4 weeks as Wentz gets more time with this offense.
For the 4th week in a row, the Colts had a strong run game, with the highest epa per carry and the highest yards per carry. While those stats are skewed by a single 83-yard run, the 6th highest conversion rate is not, showing that on the ground the Colts could move the chains.
Adjusting for game situation, that makes the Colts run game the 8th best performance this week. On the year, I have them 11th and over the last 4 weeks, I rank them 4th as they are getting better as the season progresses.
CONCLUSION & LOOK AHEAD
Houston was a below-average defense and the Colts did to them what good offenses are supposed to do. Football Outsiders bumped the Colts offense up another 5 spots to 15th in DVOA, which is an 11 spot swing in the past 2 weeks. I would actually put them a few spots higher, but I won’t quibble. It’s just nice to see outside analysis catch up to what I already knew :-P
Both phases of this offense are getting better as the year goes on. If Wentz can put all of the pieces together and Jonathan Taylor can continue running well, I see this as one of the top offenses in the league.
Next up is a San Francisco defense that I rank 17th by Expected Points Per Drive, but is 12th by DVOA. Against the pass, they are stingy, ranking 9th in epa efficiency against and giving up the 11th lowest passing success rate. On the ground, they are not as good, with an 18th adjusted RSR against and 15th ranked DVOA.
This is a very favorable match-up for the Colts run game but will be a strong test for Wentz. Expect another run-heavy game against the 3.5 points favored 49ers.