Commentary

Week 9: Numbers Crunching

Originally Published: October 30, 2008
By Bill Barnwell | Football Outsiders

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

Jets at Bills, 1 p.m.

The Jets' offense should see some improvement as the year goes along. Their offensive DVOA on first down is 19th in the league, and on second downs, they're 17th. On third downs, they fall to 25th; our research has shown that third-down performance tends to mirror that of first and second down as time goes along.

A lot's been made of Trent Edwards' QB rating in the fourth quarter, but the Bills' offense hasn't really played that great -- it ranks 21st in the league offensively in the fourth quarter. Of course, that comes after a dire performance in the dying stages last week.

• More Jets-Bills: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Lions at Bears, 1 p.m.

Detroit continues to have the best red-zone offense in the NFL. They'll want to throw when they get there; Chicago's pass defense is 26th in the league inside their own 20, but their rush defense is fourth.

Kyle Orton & Co. get off to quick starts; the Bears' O has the second-best first quarter offensive DVOA in football. The Lions' defense is dead last in the opening frame.

• More Lions-Bears: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Jaguars at Bengals, 1 p.m.

Jacksonville's goal-to-go offense is the best in football.

Cincinnati's done better away from home this year; the Bengals' offense is the worst in football when they're at Paul Brown Stadium and 28th on the road; their defense is 26th at home and 22nd on the road.

• More Jaguars-Bengals: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Ravens at Browns, 1 p.m.

The Ravens' D is the best in football on first down; Cleveland's offense is 29th in the league, its worst performance on any of the four downs.

Cleveland's performance running the ball inside the red zone has been abysmal -- they're currently the worst team in football pounding the ball inside the 20. Baltimore's defense is second in the league at stopping the run in those situations, so don't expect things to change.

• More Ravens-Browns: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Buccaneers at Chiefs, 1 p.m.

Tampa Bay has the best first-half defense of any team in the league; Kansas City's offense, conveniently enough, is the worst in football in the opening two quarters.

On the flip side, Tampa Bay's offense is seventh in the league on first down, but only 27th on second down and 24th on third down. Kansas City's defense is pretty consistently mediocre: 28th on first down, 24th on second down and dropping to 30th on third down.

• More Buccaneers-Chiefs: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Texans at Vikings, 1 p.m.

Houston's red-zone rush defense is the worst in the league by a wide margin; the Chiefs are 31st, and they're closer to 26th place than they are to last. Fortunately, despite the presence of Adrian Peterson, Minnesota's red-zone rushing offense is 30th in the league.

The Texans' offense starts slow, but it eventually gets cooking. It's 26th in the league in the first quarter but gets all the way up to third in the second quarter. Unfortunately, Minnesota's defense mirrors Houston's; it's 15th in the first and fourth in the second.

• More Texans-Vikings: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Cardinals at Rams, 1 p.m.

You don't think of the Cardinals' defense as best in the league at anything, but sure enough, they have the best first-quarter defense of anyone in football. For synchronicity purposes, we note that the Rams have the worst fourth-quarter defense in the league.

Strange Rams split: Their rush defense on third downs is 27th in the league. Their pass defense? The best in the league.

• More Cardinals-Rams: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Packers at Titans, 1 p.m.

Speaking of the best in the league, that's exactly what Tennessee's defense is in the fourth quarter. Green Bay's offense is 14th in the league; it fares best in the second quarter, when it's second-best in the NFL.

Reversing the field, Green Bay's defense is best in the third quarter, when it's second-best in football. That's the worst quarter of the game for Tennessee's offense, which ranks 21st.

• More Packers-Titans: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Dolphins at Broncos, 4:05 p.m.

Denver's defense is the worst in the league in the second half of games; Miami's offense is fourth in both the first and second halves.

Both teams love second down on offense; Miami's offense is second in the league on second down, while Denver's offense is third.

• More Dolphins-Broncos: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Cowboys at Giants, 4:05 p.m.

Each offense is the best in the league on a particular down; the Giants have the preferable spot of being best on first down, while the Cowboys have the more dangerous (but valuable) third down. First-down performance doesn't tend to regress to the performance of other downs as the season goes along; third-down performance does, which doesn't bode well for the Cowboys.

The Giants' offense is also the best in the league in the first quarter; the Cowboys defense is 13th, but that's their best quarter.

• More Cowboys-Giants: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Falcons at Raiders, 4:15 p.m.

Atlanta's offense is the best in the league at home by a wide margin; second-place Arizona is closer to 15th than to the Falcons at No. 1.

The Raiders' offense is best on second down, when it ranks 24th; that's also the weak point of the Falcons defense, which is dead last.

• More Falcons-Raiders: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Eagles at Seahawks, 4:15 p.m.

Pick out the quarter and offensive rank that doesn't match for the Eagles: first (third), second (first), third (27th), or fourth (seventh)?

The variance in Seattle's performance is 30th in the league -- meaning that they've been the third-least-consistent team in football on a game-to-game basis this season.

• More Eagles-Seahawks: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Patriots at Colts, 8:15 p.m.

For all the Colts' struggles offensively this year, they still rank fourth in the league in red-zone performance. It's just getting there that's been the issue. The Patriots have had the worst pass defense in the league inside their own 20, so that should be an advantage for Indy on Sunday.

Although the Colts are the team with the likely future Hall of Fame kicker, it's the Patriots who currently have the best special-teams DVOA of anyone in football. They rank in the top six on field goal kicking, kickoffs, and both kick and punt returns. Adam Vinatieri and the Colts rank 29th on field goal performance.

• More Patriots-Colts: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Steelers at Redskins, 8:30 p.m. (Monday)

The Steelers are another team that plays better away from home. The offense's home DVOA is 30th in the league but 14th on the road; defensively, it's fifth on the road but best in the league away from Heinz Field.

The second half should be an epic battle when Washington gets the ball. Their offense has the best second-half DVOA in the league, while the Steelers' defense is third-best.

• More Steelers-Redskins: Intel Report | EA Simulation

Bill Barnwell is an analyst for Football Outsiders.

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