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Colts defense continues to impress

For the fourth week in a row, the Colts defense held their opponent to 20 points or less.

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Indianapolis Colts v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Michael Owens/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.

In Week 10, the Colts' defense started out on fire, forcing 3 three-and-outs and a turnover on downs, but then yielded 3 touchdowns on the following 4 drives. Fortunately, they found their resolve again, holding the Raiders scoreless on the last 2 drives to seal the win.

The Raiders enjoyed the 7th-best starting field position this week, which put the Colts’ defense at a disadvantage. However, Indy held Las Vegas to a below-average 72% DSR off of 18 first 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%

20 opponent points translates to the 12th-best ppd against and actually ranks lower than the underlying defensive drivers. The Colts gave up the 9th lowest yards per play and the 6th lowest conversion rate.

The 48-yard Davante Adams TD was far from ideal, but it was 1 of only 3 explosive Raider plays on the day.

For the first time in 3 games, the Colts' defense gave up a first down on a penalty.


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

For a team that has been weak against the pass, the Colts stepped up, holding Derek Carr to the 11th least epa per dropback and the 7th worst passing success rate. Carr also had the 4th lowest passing conversion rate on the week.

This team has been getting better against the pass, moving from the 20th ranked season epa/d against after week 8 to the 12th best after week 10. By defensive passing DVOA, they currently rank 16th.


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

The Raiders have a strong run game, but the Colts held them to below-average numbers. Las Vegas had the 11th lowest ypc and the 7th lowest epa per carry. They did have a little more success with rushing conversions though, getting 7 firsts and a TD off of 24 carries (11th best 1st/c) .

Altogether, that equates to the Colts giving up the 13th-lowest adjusted RSR on the week. This brings their season total tanking to 9th best against the run, but DVOA is even more impressed ranking them 5th.


This wasn’t an outstanding defensive performance, but it was a solid effort. They once again found a way to make stops and limit points without takeaways. They aren’t the best defense in the league, but Football Outsiders says they are 11th (DVOA) and that sounds about right to me.

On Sunday, the Eagles will bring their 4th-ranked offense (DVOA) to Indy. They have the 4th highest ppd and the 2nd best Drive Success rate. They are good at passing (6th DVOA, 4th epa/d) as well as running (4th DVOA, 3rd aRSR). I wish I could find a statistical loophole to give you optimism, but it doesn’t exist.

I guess I could point out that KC has a better offense and the Colts held them to 17 points. Or look at the Commanders, who held the Eagles in check on Monday. Arizona held them to 20 in week 5. Now, that I think about it, this is certainly doable. In fact, it’s likely that we stop them. I think we shut them out and that is my lock of the week.