Commentary

Week 5: Numbers Crunching

Originally Published: October 2, 2008
By Bill Barnwell | Football Outsiders.com

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, which takes every single 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. It is still early in the season, so this week's Numbers Crunching presents a mixture of 2007 full-season stats and early numbers from 2008. Remember that 2008 numbers represent a very small sample size.

All times Eastern

Titans at Ravens, 1 p.m.

Last year, Tennessee's offense struggled dramatically at home, with the offense ranking No. 28 in Tennessee and 12th elsewhere. That's continued this year, as Tennessee's offense is 22nd at home and 8th on the road.

These two teams are 1-2 in first-down defense, but Baltimore is way ahead. Second-place Tennessee is closer to 11th-place Arizona than they are to the Ravens.

• More Titans-Ravens: Intel Report | EA Sim

Chiefs at Panthers, 1 p.m.

The Chiefs offense has been the worst in the league overall, but that's primarily due to its performance in the first halves of the first four games -- worst in the league by a large margin. Last year, the Chiefs were worse in the second half (30th) than the first (26th).

The Panthers have a strange quirk going on with their offensive performance on second down: The team's offense is 19th in the league on first down and 24th on third down, but fourth in the league on second down.

• More Chiefs-Panthers: Intel Report | EA Sim

Bears at Lions, 1 p.m.

Lions fans looking for some hope can take heart in the likelihood that their team's third-down performance is likely to improve; their offense has been 20th in the league on first down and 21st on second down, but 30th on third and fourth downs, primarily owing to a league-worst performance throwing the ball on those downs. A year ago, the Lions were tenth in the same situation throwing the ball.

It's not surprising the Eagles chose to run the ball from the 1-yard line against the Bears last week; in 2007, the Bears' red zone pass defense was second in the league, while their run defense was 14th.

• More Bears-Lions: Intel Report | EA Sim

Falcons at Packers, 1 p.m.

Atlanta is playing around with a weird home/road split from 2007; last year, the offense was 19th in the league at home and 30th on the road, but the defense was 31st in the league at home and 16th on the road. In the four games so far this year, Atlanta's offense at home has been the best in football, but they're 29th on the road; meanwhile, the defense is 14th at home and 29th away from the Georgia Dome.

Aaron Rodgers has some work to do to match Brett Favre's performance in the red zone. Last year, the Packers offense was sixth in the league throwing the ball inside the opposition's 20; in 2008, Rodgers and his attack are 16th.

• More Falcons-Packers: Intel Report | EA Sim

Colts at Texans, 1 p.m.

The Colts' splits by down on offense this year have been astounding. On first down, the team ranks 21st in the league, and on second down they're 29th. On third down? They're second in the league. That's normally a prime candidate for regression, but is it possible that Peyton Manning & Co. are merely saving their fastball for third down?

Houston is having trouble getting out of the gate. Both its offense and defense have ranked 31st in the league in the first quarter of games; while its third-quarter defense is also worst in the league, the Texans aren't any worse than 19th on either side in any other quarter.

• More Colts-Texans: Intel Report | EA Sim

Chargers at Dolphins, 1 p.m.

The Chargers are another team turning it on late. Their fourth-quarter offensive DVOA is best in the league by a large margin, with the second-place Giants closer to 20th-placed Seattle than San Diego. That has helped the Chargers rack up the league's best offense in second halves as a whole in 2008.

Miami's red zone defense was worst in football last year; this year, the Dolphins are seventh-best in football, and best in the league on goal-to-go situations.

• More Chargers-Dolphins: Intel Report | EA Sim

Seahawks at Giants, 1 p.m.

The first quarter of this game should be a battle, as the Giants' fourth-ranked offense takes on the Seahawks' second-ranked defense.

The Giants should be hesitant to run the ball in Seattle's red zone; despite having bruising Brandon Jacobs in the backfield, they're only 23rd in the league at running the ball inside the red zone, while Seattle is second in the league at stopping opposing backs.

• More Seahawks-Giants: Intel Report | EA Sim

Redskins at Eagles, 1 p.m.

Pick out the one that doesn't belong: The Redskins defense is 15th in the league in the first quarter, 19th in the second quarter, 30th in the third quarter and third in the fourth quarter. That meshes well with an Eagles offense that's second in the league in the first half of games and 23rd in the second half.

The Redskins offense still has some improvement to make; it's eighth on first down and second on second down, but only 16th on third down.

• More Redskins-Eagles: Intel Report | EA Sim

Buccaneers at Broncos, 4:05 p.m.

The Broncos' third-down defense is Jekyll and Hyde: 31st in the league against the pass, best in the league against the run.

Tampa has had the best defense in the league at home through four weeks, but they're only 20th on the road.

• More Buccaneers-Broncos: Intel Report | EA Sim

Bills at Cardinals, 4:15 p.m.

Buffalo's comebacks have helped it post the third-best offense in the league in the fourth quarter of games; the Bills don't rank higher than 12th in any of the other quarters and were 30th in the league in the fourth quarter a year ago.

Arizona is going to struggle with that: Their defense is sixth in the league in the first quarter but doesn't rank higher than 23rd in any other quarter.

• More Bills-Cardinals: Intel Report | EA Sim

Bengals at Cowboys, 4:15 p.m.

The Cowboys' struggles in the red zone continue to confound; specifically, Tony Romo is 22nd in the league in DVOA when throwing inside his opponent's 20. Last year, they were 18th.

Cincinnati has had the worst first-quarter offense in the league this year, only a year after being eighth.

• More Bengals-Cowboys: Intel Report | EA Sim

Patriots at 49ers, 4:15 p.m.

Last year, the Patriots offense was first in the league on first down. And second down. Oh, and third down, too. This year? 16th on first down, 26th on second down and 20th on third down.

Although J.T. O'Sullivan has been able to move the ball in Mike Martz's scheme, he has failed to step up so far inside the red zone. The 49ers' passing performance inside their opponent's 20 is worst in the league.

• More Patriots-49ers: Intel Report | EA Sim

Steelers at Jaguars, 8:15 p.m.

The Pittsburgh offense has put up bizarre quarter splits through four weeks. The Steelers are sixth in the league in the first quarter, worst in football in the second quarter, best in the third quarter and worst in the league again in the fourth.

The Jaguars' pass defense on first down is the second-best in football; unfortunately, their pass defense on both second down and third down is the worst.

• More Steelers-Jags: Intel Report | EA Sim

Vikings at Saints, 8:30 p.m. (Monday)

The most entertaining battle between these two teams may come in the red zone, where the Vikings' rushing attack, the best in football inside the 20, takes on a Saints' rush defense that's second-best at stopping red zone runs.

If they choose to go with their weaknesses, of course, it could be just as entertaining. The Saints' pass defense inside their own red zone is worst in football, while the Vikings' pass offense is only 27th.

• More Vikings-Saints: Intel Report | EA Sim

Bill Barnwell is an analyst for FootballOutsiders.com.

Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) is a staff writer for Grantland.