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Week 8: Numbers Crunching

10/24/2008 - NFL

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. Unless listed otherwise, all rankings are of league-wide DVOA.

All times Eastern

Chargers at Saints (London), 1 p.m.

New Orleans and San Diego rank one and two in percentage of passes that are intended for running backs.

The Saints have gone three-and-out on only 13 percent of drives, the lowest percentage in the league.

• More Chargers-Saints: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Raiders at Ravens, 1 p.m.

Here's one way to tell just how much opposing quarterbacks try to avoid cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha -- DeAngelo Hall has 25 tackles after pass completions, including 16 after the receiver earned a first down. Asomugha has only six tackles after pass completions, and only one of those came after a first down.

Baltimore's Terrell Suggs has a stop rate of 91 percent, the highest of any defender with at least 25 plays made so far this season. His run tackles have come after an average gain of less than a yard.

• More Raiders-Ravens: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Falcons at Eagles, 1 p.m.

Atlanta fans shouldn't get too excited if the Falcons manage to stuff the Eagles on first down, because the Falcons love to give up yardage on second down. Atlanta is the worst defense in the league on second down both in midrange (4-6 yards to go) and long (7+ yards to go) situations.

This game matches the league's top offense between the 40s (Atlanta) and the league's top defense between the 40s (Philadelphia).

• More Falcons-Eagles: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Chiefs at Jets, 1 p.m.

The Jets' defense ranks third in the NFL in the first half, but 28th in the second half. Don't be too worried, though, Jets fans -- the Chiefs have one of the league's three worst offenses in both halves.

Five different defensive players in the NFL have made at least 15 plays on runs but zero plays on passes (tackles, passes defensed, or sacks) so far this season. Three of them will play in this game: Kansas City defensive tackles Tank Tyler and Glenn Dorsey, and New York defensive end Kenyon Coleman.

• More Chiefs-Jets: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Cardinals at Panthers, 1 p.m.

The Panthers so far have the league's best defense against opposing No. 1 receivers. They've caught only 42 percent of intended passes, with only one touchdown (by Chris Chambers in the first week of the season).

Carolina leads the league with 19 false-start penalties, five more than any other team.

• More Cardinals-Panthers: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Buccaneers at Cowboys, 1 p.m.

If Tampa Bay has a lead at halftime, this game is far from over. Tampa Bay's defense ranks first in the league in the first half of games, but ranks 17th in the second half. Meanwhile, the Cowboys' offense is the best in the NFL in the fourth quarter.

Dallas and Tampa Bay are tied for second in the league in offensive penalties with 30 apiece (including offsetting and declined), one behind Cleveland.

• More Buccaneers-Cowboys: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Redskins at Lions, 1 p.m.

It sure seems like Washington has the advantage over Detroit in every possible area, but there is one exception: special teams. So far this year, Detroit ranks third in the Football Outsiders special-teams ratings, including first in field goals and punting. Washington ranks 29th in special teams.

The Washington offense gets successively better with each quarter. So does the Detroit defense. Of course, the Washington offense's worst rank in any quarter is 19th in the first quarter of games. The Detroit defense's best rank is 19th, in the fourth quarter.

• More Redskins-Lions: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Bills at Dolphins, 1 p.m.

Miami's Yeremiah Bell has been in on 18 percent of the Dolphins' defensive plays, the highest figure for any defensive back in the NFL.

Strange stats of the early season: Buffalo ranks first in passing DVOA on first down, last in passing DVOA on second down, and second in passing DVOA on third down.

• More Bills-Dolphins: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Rams at Patriots, 1 p.m.

The Rams have the best defense in the league against the pass on third down … but rank 28th against the run on third down. The Patriots' offense is roughly middle of the pack in both running and passing on third down.

The Patriots have only nine penalties on offense, the lowest figure in the league, and only 26 penalties total, lower than every team except for Houston.

• More Rams-Patriots: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Browns at Jaguars, 4:05 p.m.

Cleveland and Jacksonville rank first and second in the NFL when it comes to the performance of running backs as receivers compared to the NFL average in similar situations. However, a big pass to Jamal Lewis or Jerome Harrison is more likely than a big pass to Maurice Jones-Drew or Fred Taylor, because Cleveland also ranks first in defense against running backs as receivers -- while Jacksonville's defense ranks 30th.

Although the Cleveland defense is 18th overall, it ranks sixth in the fourth quarter. Although the Jacksonville offense is 13th overall, it ranks 26th in the fourth quarter.

• More Browns-Jaguars: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Giants at Steelers, 4:15 p.m.

If you like sacks, this is the game for you. Pittsburgh's defense is No. 1 in Adjusted Sack Rate. The Giants rank fourth and would rank first if not for the game where they couldn't sack Derek Anderson of Cleveland.

Pittsburgh's offense is usually excellent, but it has serious problems in the red zone, and ranks 31st in goal-to-go situations. That's not a good thing against a Giants offense that leads the league in DVOA in goal-to-go situations.

• More Giants-Steelers: Intel Report | EA Simulation

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

San Francisco's Justin Smith is one of only two defensive linemen who have been involved in more than 10 percent of their team's defensive plays. (The other is Kevin Williams of Minnesota.) Smith has 33 tackles or assists on running plays; no other defensive lineman in the NFL has more than 26.

The 49ers' offense has struggled mightily in the most important situations. They rank last in the league in the fourth quarter, 31st in the red zone, and 30th on third down.

• More Seahawks-49ers: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Colts at Titans, 8:30 p.m. (Monday)

Tennessee leads the league in penalties committed on defense; Indianapolis leads the league in penalties committed on special teams.

Tennessee's Justin McCareins has caught just 29 percent of intended passes. Every other wide receiver with at least 30 pass targets has a catch rate over 40 percent.

• More Colts-Titans: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Aaron Schatz is president of Football Outsiders Inc. and the lead author of "Pro Football Prospectus 2008," now on sale online and in bookstores everywhere.