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Week 8 Defensive Rankings and Analysis:

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NFL: New Orleans Saints at Indianapolis Colts Marc Lebryk-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.

There are no excuses this week, this was a bad defense.

The Colts gave up 6 scores on 12 drives, none of which were short fields. They let New Orleans get 24 first downs on 30 series for an 80% Drive Success Rate, which is the 6th-highest number for any offense in week 8 and the highest number for the Saints this year.

They forced only 1 three-and-out and the Saints enjoyed the 2nd-highest yards per drive of any team. Did I mention the Colts gave up over 500 yards?


(Use the right-left arrows to toggle between stats for the week and the season).

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%

3.45 points per drive is the 3rd-worst number on the week and moves the Colts’ defense to 25th on the year.

The Colts gave up the 2nd most yards per play and the 7th highest conversion rate. Unsurprisingly, that led to a lot of opponent touchdowns. They were terrible on 3rd down, giving up the 8th-highest 3rd down conversion rate and they gave up the most explosive play quantity and yards for the week.

Nothing good to see here. Move along.


(Use the right-left arrows to toggle between stats for the week and the season).

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

Derek Carr is evidently a first-ballot Hall of Famer as he put up the 2nd-highest EPA per dropback and 3rd-highest passing success rate. He was the 2nd-least pressured QB and he threw the longest pass attempts of any QB. He was quick, accurate, and he tore the Colts’ defense apart (well mostly 1 guy).

It was so bad an effort that, on the season, the Colts' pass defense fell 10 spots to 23rd.


(Use the right-left arrows to toggle between stats for the week and the season).

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

They weren’t much better against the run either, giving up the 3rd-highest adj Rush Success Rate. The Colts yielded the 7th-most yards per carry, which led to 3 rushing TDs and the 9th-highest conversion rate. They gave up the most rushes of over 10 yards of any defense and the 5th-highest EPA per carry.

On the year they drop from 20th to 24th against the run.


I’m going out on a limb and suggesting that giving up over 500 yards of offense is not going to win many games. They were, across the board, atrocious.

So how good is the Carolina Panthers offense? Not.

The Panthers have averaged the 5th-lowest points per drive and the 2nd-worst yards per play of any team. They are 26th in passing EPA per dropback and 25th in passing conversion rate off of the 2nd-lowest yardage efficiency. On the ground, they are only slightly better with the 23rd-ranked adj Rush Success Rate.

Normally, I would say this is a good chance for the defense to redeem themselves, but I have lost all faith.