Submitted by Stat Intelligence
What you see below are per-game averages on offense and defense for points scored and allowed on drives of 60 yards or more. That's a stat I've been keeping myself by hand from itemized scoring drives in boxscores ever since the USA Today started publishing them many years ago. In the first parenthesis are strength of schedule rankings from Jeff Sagarin at USA Today and Football Outsiders (in that order, and, largely converging now). In the second parenthesis is turnover differential. Games are presented in market rotation order. I tried to line up the numbers as best as possible by abbreviating some of the team cities…
San Diego: 14.6 on offense, 16.1 on defense (19-31) (-3 turnovers)
Denver : 23.3 on offense, 15.0 on defense (20-29) (-2 turnovers)
Football Outsiders has mentioned somewhere that San Diego supposedly has one of the five worst defenses in the history of their stat methodology. I mean…it’s pretty bad…but historically bad in a way that’s actually meaningful instead of just some stat quirk from people who translate everything into Klingon? In terms of allowing points on drives of 60 yards or more this season, they’re seven from the bottom (better than Detroit, Jacksonville, and Atlanta a lot better than Minnesota and Chicago, and really a lot better than Dallas). They’re really in a tough spot here though facing a great offense on the road at altitude.
I know others have mentioned this recently. Time to think very seriously about the fact that the gloves receivers are wearing may have helped flip the switch in determining who’s favored in cold weather. A lot of defenders last week seemed to have trouble getting their footing and cutting hard while trying to launch themselves at ball carriers. The game has evolved into defenses that take a few hard steps and launch. The blizzard stuff last week (or very cold temperatures on iffy grass) had a bunch of defenders and special teams tacklers stutter-stepping softly before somebody ran right around them. That’s always been true in bad weather. But, it didn’t matter much if receivers and kick returners were having trouble catching the ball. What had either been in balance, or favored the defense may have flopped. Let’s watch for that in this one if it’s still cold in Denver.
Washington: 14.3 on offense, 15.2 on defense (17-6) (-3 turnovers)
Atlanta: 14.2 on offense, 16.8 on defense (2-2) (-11 turnovers)
Those Washington numbers are with RGIII. Cousins will get the start this week. Funny…Washington had been getting drive points vs. soft defenses…before hitting a brick wall against good defenses. They’re back to facing a soft one here…indoors on a fast track. Good spot for Cousins to get some points on the board if the rest of the team hasn’t thrown in the towel on the season yet. Some football feng shui on the schedule rankings for the Skins. Not too much of that this week.
San Francisco: 11.9 on offense, 10.2 on defense (14-11) (+7 turnovers)
Tampa Bay: 8.6 on offense, 12.2 on defense (3-1) (+13 turnovers)
This is the kind of game San Francisco has been steamrolling this year. Maybe it will be tougher after a big divisional win over Seattle and travelling across the country. Remember that Tampa Bay’s offense played worse last week than the final score made it sound vs. Buffalo. Only 246 total yards. Glennon was 9-25-2-81 in great weather.
Arizona: 13.2 on offense, 9.9 on defense (7-7) (even turnovers)
Tennesse: 13.7 on offense, 13.4 on defense (12-18) (even turnovers)
Arizona’s kind of getting yanked around with their schedule lately. Third trip East in the last five weeks. Great stat profile for them…very similar to Carolina. Funny that the only two teams in the NFL who are dead even in turnover differential are playing each other.
New Orleans: 17.2 on offense, 11.9 on defense (11-3) (+3 turnovers)
St. Louis: 13.8 on offense, 14.7 on defense (1-5) (+7 turnovers)
So…is this a “road” game for New Orleans, a team that’s 1-5 ATS on the road this year…or is it more like a home game because it’s indoors against a team that’s not in the playoff picture any more? A lot of the NFC contenders have played solid schedules this year, unlike the AFC.
Seattle: 15.3 on offense, 9.0 on defense (9-19) (+12 turnovers)
NY Giants: 11.6 on offense, 10.2 on defense (6-9) (-13 turnovers)
Wondering if Seattle is going to treat this like another “dress rehearsal” game since the Super Bowl will be on this field. They tend to dominate when they have that mindset to an extreme degree. And, now their defense gets to face interception machine Eli Manning. Stat profile of a champion with +6.3 in differential and a defense in single digits (while also getting the best of it style-wise in the turnover department). If you hear dress rehearsal rumblings in pre-game chatter…look for a blowout.
Chicago: 18.5 on offense, 19.5 on defense (28-23) (+6 turnovers)
Cleveland: 10.6 on offense, 8.1 on defense (21-21) (-7 turnovers)
Will Cleveland be devastated by the punch in the gut loss at New England last week? Seems like that’s everything. A great defense will be facing a rusty Jay Cutler…if they’re still playing with the fire of a great defense. Doubled over in anguish…and the Bears would seem to have the best of it as they continue to fight with Detroit for the NFC North lead.
Houston: 11.0 on offense, 16.6 on defense (10-22) (-14 turnovers)
Indianapolis: 14.4 on offense, 14.5 on defense (4-16) (+6 turnovers)
In the last six games, Indy is down 118-80 in this stat, getting out drive-pointed in every game. That includes two games with Tennessee, one with Houston, and one with St. Louis. The Houston debacle has only been outscored 86-68 in this stat over the same number of games.
Buffalo: 10.6 on offense, 12.5 on defense (15-8) (-1 turnovers)
Jacksonville: 7.3 on offense, 16.5 on defense (8-15) (-2 turnovers)
Jags are playing like they care, but are still getting squashed in the stats every week. Buffalo no-showed last week in Tampa, making it hard to no-show a second straight week. I think it’s very hard to be excited about E.J. Manuel right now….making it hard for other franchises to get excited about other quarterbacks who play that style.
New England: 16.1 on offense, 11.8 on defense (26-13) (+6 turnovers)
Miami: 11.1 on offense, 13.8 on defense (16-10) (+2 turnovers)
People have been talking about the difference in New England’s scoring with and without Rob Gronkowski. Let’s do that for drive points. In the game’s he finished, they averaged 18.8 per game. In the games he missed or couldn’t finish, 11.9. Confirms what you already knew. Elite with him. Below par without. That below par is still better than what Miami was doing though! Pats have the stat profile of a Wildcard team without Gronk.
Philadelphia: 17.8 on offense, 12.6 on defense (27-27) (+9 turnovers)
Minnesota: 15.2 on offense, 18.8 on defense (18-12) (-7 turnovers)
That horrible strength of schedule for Philly means Eagles fans shouldn’t be buying Super Bowl tickets yet. But…there’s a lot more to like now than there was six weeks ago. The problem is…are we looking at a team that’s just great at running up the stats on teams who aren’t up to the task that day (a 76-17 edge in drive points over a non-conference non-contender in Oakland, and a dome team that gave up hope in a blizzard. The 17-14 edge over Arizona was pretty generic. A big game here won’t prove much for the playoffs either because they’re facing a horrible defense indoors. Probably a good spot to think about a team total for the Eagles…or something that asks them to produce with an offense that seems relatively proven vs. bad defenses.
NY Jets: 7.5 on offense, 13.3 on defense (22-14) (-18 turnovers)
Carolina: 13.8 on offense, 9.2 on defense (4-5) (+10 turnovers)
Always seem to be repeating myself with these teams. Insert Geno Smith joke. Insert “how can anyone think turnovers are random after watching a rookie QB who throws way downfield make so many miscues” query. Insert “Carolina sure has a great stat profile for the playoffs” reminder, even though they seemed outclassed in New Orleans.
Kansas City: 10.8 on offense, 12.4 on defense (31-32) (+15 turnovers)
Oakland: 10.3 on offense, 13.8 on defense (23-30) (-3 turnovers)
Kansas City’s drive point mark in the Washington blowout last week was just 7-7. A lot of cheapies. These guys have a bused a week schedule in a way that would have to leave you very skeptical about their hopes within the AFC brackets. The offense doesn’t move the ball well. The defense was exposed vs. quality recently. Playoff caliber opponents are less likely to hand them cheap points (though Indy might in the opener). Let’s do this:
Kansas City’s Drive Points 141 on offense, 161 on defense
Kansas City’s Cheap Points 202 (all others), 63 allowed
KC’s conservative offense doesn’t give away many free points. The offense has trouble earning points that aren’t given away by opponents. This is how teams turn into pumpkins against quality. Good opponents don’t self-destruct, which means it’s the 141/161 category trying to win in the clutch.
Green Bay: 14.5 on offense, 14.8 on defense (30-25) (-4 turnovers)
Dallas: 14.3 on offense, 20.9 on defense (13-17) (+12 turnovers)
No word yet on whether Rodgers will play for the Packers. They’re at 18.6 in the games he started and finished offensively in this stat, 9.8 with the other quarterbacks. It’s only 6.6 if you don’t count the 26 points they scored against the bad Minnesota defense. They’re sure facing a bad defense here though. Green Bay’s soft schedule a hidden kicker against them in their injury slump. This is the kind of spot where Romo has been producing late to barely beat non-contenders lately. Captain Clutch! The Dallas victories this year came against NYG (2), Oakland, Washington, Minnesota, St. Louis, and Philadelphia before the Eagles got things figured out.
Cincinnati: 14.9 on offense, 10.4 on defense (24-24) (-1 turnovers)
Pittsburgh: 13.7 on offense, 13.1 on defense (29-28) (-4 turnovers)
Feeling better about Cincinnati lately. Though beating the collapsing Colts may not mean anything, and the win in San Diego was marred by only scoring 17 points against a bad defense. Decent drive point profile is hurt by the soft schedule. They could certainly pull a Baltimore in terms of peaking at the right time in January. Well…heck…they could still get a #2 seed which would mean being better positioned than Baltimore was last year. Most likely brackets would have them hosting the worst playoff team in round one before visiting possibly fading New England. If New England fades quickly…then Cincinnati gets a bye before hosting the winner of New England vs. the worst playoff team. Their defense would give them a puncher’s chance at Denver. Pittsburgh’s very soft schedule this year still be overlooked by too many.
Baltimore: 11.5 on offense, 11.2 on defense (32-26) (-5 turnovers)
Detroit: 16.6 on offense, 16.6 on defense (25-20) (-10 turnovers)
Very similar teams in differential, schedule strength, and taking the worst of it in risk/reward ratio. Detroit does it with more octane, more sloppiness, and worse tackling.