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Week 5: Colts Defense by the Numbers

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Indianapolis Colts v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

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.

Against Denver, the Indy defense only gave up 9 points but based on the drive data that should have been about 15. That discrepancy is primarily key mistakes by Denver that the Colts capitalized on, limiting 4 Bronco red zone drives to just 3 points.


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%

The 5th fewest points per drive was driven by the 5th-smallest DSR. Denver could not move the chains (7th-lowest 1st%) and when they did, those drives often ended dramatically with a sack or an interception.


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

Russell Wilson had a bad day. The Colts held him to negative EPA and the 7th lowest EPA per drop-back on the week. Wilson managed about league average net yardage (16th ny/d), but as is his M.O., he could not leverage that into first downs (11th-lowest 1st%).

Primarily known for being an accurate QB, on Thursday, Wilson couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. His -8.5% cpoe was the 2nd worst mark in week 5.

The Colts harassed him all night, sacking him 4 times and picking him off twice.

On the year, I rank the Colts' pass defense 15th.


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

The Colts run D did not shut down Denver’s back-up RBs, but they put a lid on the Broncos’ impact. Indy held the Denver run game to the 10th-lowest conversion rate and the 10th lowest ypc. Denver did have some late-game success on the ground which weighs heavily in adj RSR, so overall, the Colts run defense comes in at 15th.

On the year, I rank the Colts run defense 8th best.


A solid performance by the defense saved this game and the unit remains the only ray of hope for the season.

Next up is Jacksonville and their 15th-ranked offense (DVOA). Football Outsiders says they are good through the air (9th pass DVOA) and bad on the ground (27th rush DVOA). I tend to agree (11th epa/d, 29th aRSR).

Based on the matchups, look for the Jags to pass the ball a bit more than usual on early downs. Trevor Lawrence doesn’t get sacked much (29th sck%), but he is turnover-prone (8th to%).