Each week during the season, I will be walking through the data from the previous Colts game and 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.
In week 16, the Colts offense had only 1 three-and-out all day and that was pretty much intentional with a 2 score lead and about 5 minutes left. Other than that, each drive earned at least 2 first downs resulting in a 74.1% DSR. That’s not great but it is above average and considering the O-Line had exactly 1 starter by the end, I would say above average is great.
By points per drive, this ranked 16th on the week and that is somewhat in line with the 19th DSR and 16th yards per play. EPA efficiency and first down conversion rate were a bit lower (21st epa/ply, 25th 1st/ply), which meant the offense had to run a lot of plays to get those first downs. But they pretty much did, so all is well.
On the year, even though points per drive slipped a bit, the Colts hang on to the #6 spot and earn the 8th best offensive DVOA. The supporting stats agree (#7 DSR, #7 epa/ply), so it’s no fluke.
Carson Wentz can be proud of his performance in this game. As I will show later, the run game was not working that well and so the team needed him to come through with his arm.
While his volume stats are not gaudy, with only 225 passing yards, he was highly efficient. He had the 8th best epa/d and a 10th best 7.3 net yards per drop-back. Those yards drove a high conversion rate (11th 1st%) that moved the ball steadily down the field.
The passing game keeps inching up the season chart, now ranking 15th most efficient. DVOA gives a 16th ranking, but I imagine if that was weighted for recency, it would be a lot higher. If I were to cherry-pick and drop the first 3 weeks of the year, the pass game moves up to 7th best epa/d.
Volume-wise, 121 yards is not bad, but it took 32 carries behind a ravaged O-Line to get there. That’s 3.8 yards per carry which is way below the 5.0 season average and ranks only 19th for the week.
EPA is even less kind with a 25th ranked epa/c due to an inability to get TDs or first downs (31st 1st/c). That all combines to make the worst run efficiency of the week (32nd aRSR).
That blip causes the Colts to fall to the #2 spot in aRSR, slipping behind Kansas City. However, DVOA still loves the Colts, rating them the #1 run game in the league.
CONCLUSION & LOOK AHEAD
This was such an important win, a thrilling win, a confidence-inspiring win. Sure it took a lot of Cardinals special team miscues, but Wentz took a step forward when the team relied on him and that bodes well for the future.
The Raiders come to Lucas Oil in week 17 with a 24th ranked defense (DVOA). Not coincidentally, they rank 24th in points per drive against and 23rd in epa per play given up.
Opposing QBs rack up the 7th most epa per dropback, even though the Raiders are fairly stingy yard-wise (11th lowest ny/d against). The reason for that apparent disconnect is that their defense doesn’t make a lot of big plays. They rank last in INTs and 23rd in preventing passing TDs. They also give up the 13th highest conversion rate. DVOA has them 25th against the pass, so this should be a Wentz-friendly environment. Now, all we need is a Wentz to play.
On the ground, the Raiders defense is pretty stout. They rank 10th in DVOA and I have them 7th best at limiting aRSR. If the Colts O-line continues to be a patchwork, this could be another tough running day.
Colts are 6.5 point favorites, but COVID and the NFLs reaction to it will probably cause that to bounce around a bit.