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Week 13 Colts Defensive Rankings and Analysis: Boom or bust defense

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Indianapolis Colts v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/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.

The Colts defense gave up a 3 big passing plays that allowed 3 TD drives, but when they kept a lid on the deep passes, they constrained the Titans offense. Out of 14 Tennessee drives, 9 of them were limited to under 25 yards with a cumulative total of 67 yards and 0 points . . . actually . . . negative 6 points.

The Titans were very inconsistent at moving the chains. 25 first downs is a lot, but out of 36 series that is still a sub-70% Drive Success Rate and ranks as the 13th best defensive number for the week.

This is a hard game to judge because except for 3-4 plays, they were very good. But those mistakes count and they contributed to 20 points on the board.


(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%

2.0 Points per Drive is the 12th best defensive mark of the week but drops the team’s season total 4 spots to an 18th best 1.87 PPD (less than 1/10th of a ppd separates 14th from 18th).

Even though, the Colts gave up the 10th most explosive play yards, they held the Titans to the 8th lowest yards per play. Basically, this was a boom or bust defense.

Indy only gave up 1 first down via penalty and they snagged 2 turnovers, which moved them to 6th place in season takeaways (per game).


(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

Will Levis didn’t have a great game, but then again, he’s not a great QB (at least not so far). The Colts limited his EPA per dropback to 12th lowest and kept his passing success rate to the 5th lowest. On the year, the Colts defense remains at 18th in opponent EPA/d.

Levis was held to the 7th lowest net yards per dropback, and was sacked him 6 times, fumbling once while enduring the 7th highest pressure rate in week 13. However, he managed to get a decent conversion rate (12th highest) and he also had 3 completions over 25 yards each that led to 3 Titan touchdowns.


(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 defense stumbled against the run. They gave up 2 TDs, 171 yards and the 7th highest conversion rate. A fumble recovery helped counter that somewhat, but they still ended up 16th of 26 teams in adjusted Rush Success Rate. On the year, they maintain their hold on 23rd place against the run.


Overall, this was a “meh” game for the defense. Although they were great on a majority of the drives, they were atrocious on 3 very big ones and had it not been for a missed Titan extra point, I would probably be talking about how the defense lost the game. Aw who am I kiddin’, I would have blamed Minshew too.

Up next are the Cincinnati Bengals whose offense ranks 18th in Points per Drive and 17th in Drive Success Rate.

Joe Burrow was injured in week 10 and his replacement Jake Browning has actually improved the passing game in his 2 starts. Burrow’s +0.13 EPA per dropback is pretty good (13th through week 10), but Browning’s is +0.25 which is 7th best in the last 2 weeks. Browning has better yardage efficiency and accuracy too. It’s way too early to tell what kind of QB he will be, but don’t be surprised if he does well on Sunday.

On the ground, Cincinnati ranks 19th in adj RSR. They are 16th conversion rate and they get good yards per carry (3.8 8th), but they are a pass-first team and rack up the least amount of rushing yards per game of any team (69 yds per gme scrambles excluded). That could change though if the Colts get in a hole early.

I’m not liking this match-up for the Colts defense.