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Week 14 Colts Defensive Rankings and Analysis: Bad across the board

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NFL: DEC 10 Colts at Bengals

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.

Here’s something interesting. The Bengals offense earned exactly the same number of first downs on exactly the same number of series as the Colts offense. Both teams had a 73.1% Drive Success Rate, which is a decently high number and evidence that both teams were moving the ball. The main difference between the two offenses is that the Colts ended their drives with mistakes and the Bengals ended theirs with points. Did I say that was interesting? I meant infuriating.


(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%

Cincinnati had their way with the Colts defense. Their 2.45 Points per Drive was the 5th worst defensive effort of the week and that includes netting out 7 Bengal points for the pick-6. Without that adjustment, the Colts gave up 3.05 PPD, which according to my chart would rank 31st out of 30 teams. On the year, Indy now sits as the 19th ranked defense with an opponent 1.92 PPD.

Against the Bengals, the Colts gave up the 2nd most yards per play and the 4th most explosive yards. They also helped keep Bengal drives alive by giving up three 1st downs via penalty. It was just all around ugly.

Again, keep in mind, the Bengals did not get any more first downs than the Colts did, yet their offense outscored ours 34-7. Coffee is for closers.


(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

Browning had the 3rd shortest pass attempts of the week, but he had a 75% completion rate. The Colts pass rush was mostly absent, pressuring him at the 3rd lowest rate and earning 0 sacks.

Browning had the 2nd best conversion rate of any QB and he had 5 explosive pass plays that totaled 196 yards. 3 of those 5 passes were completed behind the line of scrimmage. Nice tackling.

On the week, the Colts defense was 7th worst in defensive EPA efficiency. Had the pick-6 not have happened, they would have been dead last by a big, big margin. Let’s hope this game was just an outlier for the passing defense. On the year, they fall 3 spots to the 13th ranked pass defense (+0.01 opponent EPA/d ).


(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,

The defensive woes against the run continue. The Colts gave up the 5th highest adj Rush Success Rate. They limited yards, giving up the 12th lowest yards per carry, but 10 of those rushes came with a 14 point Bengal lead when they were just trying to burn clock and I adjust for those.

At the end of the day, Indy gave up 5 rushing first downs and 2 rushing TDs, which is not good. On the year, they fall 1 more spot to the 25th ranked run defense.


Both the pass and rush defense played horribly and giving up 34 points is what happens when you do that. Let’s just move on.

Maybe the Steelers can provide a get-well week for the defense. Pittsburgh’s offense earns the 6th fewest points per drive on the 5th worst Drive Success Rate.

Trubisky has taken over at QB, but his overall EPA per play is about the same as Kenny Pickett’s. Combined, they have the 7th worst passing efficiency. They rank 26th in net yards per drive and 27th in passing conversion rate. On the other hand, they don’t get sacked a lot (24th sck%) and they have the lowest turnover rate in the league.

On the ground, the Steelers are about average (15th arsr). They have the 8th highest ypc but only the 18th ranked conversion rate.

The passing match-up favors the Colts defense, but the run game favors the Steelers. Will they try to limit Trubisky and press are seemingly ever-weakening run D? If we get in a hole early, the answer to that is 100% yes.