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Week 16: Colts Defense by the Numbers

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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,, Football Outsiders, and the nflFastR project for being awesome sources of weekly data.

Although the defense started out shaky, they finished with resolve. 16 points is obviously a successful day, but a lot of that was due to Arizona mistakes. While the Cardinals managed the exact same DSR as the Colts offense did, the resolution of those drives did not go as well for them (2 missed FG, safety, 2 turnovers on downs).


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

Points per drive come in 8th lowest for the week. Of course, that is driven by a safety and 7 special teams points left on the field by the Cardinals, so the underlying numbers for the Colts defense aren’t nearly as good.

  • 15th DSR against
  • 16th EPA/ply against
  • 23rd Yards per play against

This was really an average result with some fortunate opponent mistakes. Of course missing key players makes that average performance much more impressive.

On the year, the defense rises to 14th in PPD against. DVOA still has them highly ranked at 9th, primarily due to take-aways.


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

The defense kept a lid on Kyler Murray’s passing, yielding the 10th shortest yardage (5.8 ny/d) and the 8th lowest passing conversion rate (29.5% 1st/d). Those results drove a negative EPA day for Murray, landing him at 8th least efficient QB (-0.07 epa/d).

For the season, the team is hovering around mediocrity against the pass, ranking 17th in epa/d against. DVOA pushes them all the way up to 12th, which seems a little high to me.


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

On the ground, the Cards found much more success. They had the 3rd highest ypc and 2nd highest epa per carry. That was skewed heavily by Murray’s 57 yarder, but even when looking at stats that aren’t skewed by big runs, Arizona dominated on the ground. They had the 3rd highest conversion rate (35% 1st/c) and the 6th highest success rate (45% RSR).

Altogether, that places the Colts run defense at 24th in adj RSR. On the year, though, they rank 4th to go along with a 3rd rank in DVOA.


I think if we had been full strength, the numbers would look much better for the defense, but by what they actually did, this was just an OK performance with some big breaks going our way.

The Raiders 18th ranked offense (DVOA) is coming to town. They score only 1.83 points per drive which places them 20th. They don’t move the ball down the field that well (20th DSR, 17th 1st/ply) and they are inefficient (20th epa/ply).

Their passing game is 16th by epa/d and 17th by DVOA. Surprisingly, Derek Carr manages good yardage (8th ny/d) but can’t translate that into conversions (18th 1st/c). His 11th ranked turnover rate may be partially to blame there. He is not good in the red zone and doesn’t throw many TDs (25th).

DVOA hates their run game (23rd) and I agree (24th aRSR). They are 27th in ypc and 29th in epa/c, but manage to convert downs through their running backs (11th 1st/c).