Week 16: Numbers Crunching
Each week, Football Outsiders takes a look at every game on the NFL schedule with a mix of interesting numbers and in-depth statistical analysis. Much of the analysis is based on DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), which takes every play during the season and compares it to the league average based on situation and opponent. DVOA and Football Outsiders' other advanced stats are explained here.
All times Eastern.
Giants at Bills (Sunday), 1 p.m.
Buffalo is the second-best defense in the NFL against tight ends. With Jeremy Shockey out for the rest of the season, the Giants will have a rookie tight end making his first NFL start. Good luck, Kevin Boss.Bills cornerback Jabari Greer has allowed an average of just 1.3 yards after the catch when he's the main pass defender, the lowest figure for any defender with at least 30 charted passes. On the other side of the field, Terrence McGee has allowed an average of just 2.1 yards after the catch, which ranks eighth in the league. All praise the power of the Tampa 2!
• More Giants-Bills: Intel Report | EA Simulation
Chiefs at Lions, 1 p.m.
For the Lions' offense, it's feast or famine: Most of the time they'll either gain big yardage on first down or they'll be stuck punting. The Lions' offense ranks eighth in the NFL on first down, but 31st on third down. The Chiefs' defense ranks 28th in the NFL on first down, but has the best DVOA in the league on third down. The Chiefs are great on third down no matter the distance -- fifth with 1-3 yards to go, third with 4-6 yards to go, and third with 7-plus yards to go.(Bad news for Kansas City fans: A unit that is terrible on first down and great on third down is very likely to decline the following season.) We're all used to Kansas City having one of the strongest home-field advantages in the NFL, but not this season. The Chiefs rank 21st in defense at home, but sixth in defense on the road. They are 29th in offense both at home and on the road.
• More Chiefs-Lions: Intel Report | EA Simulation
Eagles at Saints, 1 p.m.
New Orleans ranks seventh in offensive DVOA, but only New England is better in the red zone. Philadelphia ranks 12th in defensive DVOA, but only Minnesota and San Diego are better in the red zone.Our game charters have marked 67 different defensive backs as the main defender on at least 30 passes this season. Out of those 67 defensive backs, Jason David of New Orleans is last in both success rate (27 percent) and yards per pass (16.0). Mike McKenzie, on the other hand, is 13th in success rate (62 percent) and 12th in yards per pass (6.0). (Success rate explained here.)
• More Eagles-Saints: Intel Report | EA Simulation
Browns at Bengals, 1 p.m.
Neither Cleveland nor Cincinnati has a particularly good run defense, but they are the top two defenses in the NFL when it comes to preventing conversions on runs in "power situations" (third or fourth down, or goal line, with 1-2 yards to go). Runners only convert 47 percent of the time against Cleveland, 53 percent of the time against Cincinnati.Cincinnati and Cleveland are two of only four teams in the NFL that have used the conventional two running backs on 50 percent of plays or more. Cincinnati is below average on kickoffs, while Josh Cribbs is the best kickoff returner in the league. When these two teams met in Week 2, Cribbs brought one back 85 yards, and the Bengals started just squibbing it to him. Expect a repeat.
• More Browns-Bengals: Intel Report | EA Simulation
Raiders at Jaguars, 1 p.m.
In the red zone, Oakland has the league's best defense against the pass and worst defense against the run. Shockingly, despite their awesome running back tandem, the Jaguars are better passing in the red zone (ninth) than running (17th), but don't expect the Raiders to keep Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew out of the end zone.The Raiders have the best DVOA in the league against No. 1 receivers, and the worst DVOA in the league against No. 2 receivers. Of course, with Jacksonville, good luck figuring out which receiver fits each role. Dennis Northcutt leads the Jaguars with 71 pass targets; every other team in the NFL has at least one wide receiver with more pass targets. Ernest Wilford has 62 targets, and Reggie Williams has 52.
• More Raiders-Jaguars: Intel Report | EA Simulation
Packers at Bears, 1 p.m.
The Packers' defense ranks 26th in the first half, but fourth in the second half, and third in "late-and-close" situations (second half, score within a touchdown). Chicago's offense is bad in all halves, with all scores, on all downs, and in any situation.(OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration the Bears are average on second-and-long and third-and-medium, which means 4-6 yards to go.) The Packers have gone empty backfield more often than any other team (15.2 percent of plays) but they've also gone with three running backs (aka the full house formation) more often than any other team (3.6 percent of plays).
• More Packers-Bears: Intel Report | EA Simulation
Texans at Colts, 1 p.m.
• More Texans-Colts: Intel Report | EA Simulation
Falcons at Cardinals, 4:05 p.m.
• More Falcons-Cardinals: Intel Report | EA Simulation
Buccaneers at 49ers, 4:05 p.m.
Despite their struggles in almost every phase of the offensive game, the 49ers are doing well when they run up the middle (11th in adjusted line yards) or behind right tackle (fifth in adjusted line yards). Those happen to be two areas where the Tampa Bay defense struggles. The Bucs' defense is 31st in adjusted line yards against runs up the middle and 25th against runs behind right tackle.San Francisco is the only offense in the league that has faced more than four pass-rushers on 40 percent of plays. However, the Tampa Bay defense has sent more than four pass-rushers on only 14 percent of plays, which is the second-lowest figure in the league behind Indianapolis.
• More Buccaneers-49ers: Intel Report | EA Simulation
Jets at Titans, 4:15 p.m.
• More Jets-Titans: Intel Report | EA Simulation
Ravens at Seahawks, 4:15 p.m.
If the Seahawks want to win, they need to pass on first down. And pass, and pass, and pass some more. The Seahawks' offense is sixth in DVOA when passing on first down, but 29th when running on first down. The Ravens' defense is the worst in the league against the pass on first down, and the second-best in the league against the run on first down.
Baltimore is probably going to be punting to Seattle often, which is a bit of a problem. The Ravens rank 31st in the league in net punt value. Sam Koch is fine, but the Ravens have had terrible punt coverage. They'll face Nate Burleson, who has gained 12.6 points worth of field position on his punt returns. That's more than anyone else in the league -- and yes, that includes Devin Hester.
• More Ravens-Seahawks: Intel Report | EA Simulation
Dolphins at Patriots, 4:15 p.m.
• More Dolphins-Patriots: Intel Report | EA Simulation
Redskins at Vikings, 8:15 p.m.
• More Redskins-Vikings: Intel Report | EA Simulation
Broncos at Chargers (Monday), 8:30 p.m.
• More Broncos-Chargers: Intel Report | EA Simulation
Aaron Schatz is president of Football Outsiders Inc. and the lead author of Pro Football Prospectus 2007 and 2008.
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