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Week 15 Colts Defensive Rankings and Analysis: The defense dominates

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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts Grace Hollars

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.

I think this image speaks for itself. Pittsburgh could not move the ball. They crossed into Colts territory only 3 times all day.

Three turnovers, another on downs and 4 sacks kept the Steeler offense in check. Their 61.9% Drive Success Rate was the 8th worst of any offense in week 15.


(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%

The 1.08 defensive Points per Drive is good enough for 11th this week and would have likely been even better had the Sanchez blocked punt not gifted the Steelers a drive that needed just 1 yard to find the end zone. On the year, the Colts defense moves up 3 spots to 16th.

The defense was stingy with both yards (7th yds/ply ) and first downs (9th 1st/ply). The 3 takeaways moves the Colts defense to 3rd most per game (tied BUF).


(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

Trubisky did not have a good day. Probably not the first time those words were spoken, but the Colts ranking 6th best in defensive EPA/d makes me feel happy anyway. On the year, the Colts defense stays at 13th against the pass.

Trubisky was sacked, he was picked, he was prevented from getting yards (7th worst ny/d). It’s everything you want a defense to do.


(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 Colts were good against the run too. A 10th best adj Rush Success Rate adds to a season total that remains at 25th.

Game script kept Pittsburgh from running much, but when they did, they could only manage the 21st ranked YPC and 26th ranked conversion rate.


It was a nice bounce-back game for the Colts defense. Sure, Pittsburgh is a poor offense, but the Colts did what you should do against bad offenses.

Next up is the Atlanta offense and their 25th ranked Points per Drive. They pair that with a 23rd ranked Drive Success Rate.

Through the air, Desmond Ridder has the 23rd best EPA efficiency, but a surprisingly high 11th ranked Passing Success Rate. The disconnect there is turnovers. He has the 3rd highest passing conversion rate, so he can move the ball, but he doesn’t turn that into TDs and he is not careful with the ball (29th td%, 2nd to%). It looks like Ridder is getting benched, but I don’t expect Taylor Heinicke to do any better.

On the ground, the Falcons are just as bad, with a 24th ranked adj Rush Success Rate. They are OK at getting yards and first downs (16th YPC, 14th 1st/c), but they cough up the ball with the most lost fumbles per game (tied).

If the Colts can extended their takeaway streak, they should be able to limit Falcon points.