FanPost

Saints vs Colts - Statistical Comparisons

So the biggest game in the history of everything is now a week away and I feel like the focus on CSC should shift entirely towards the Superbowl. Everyone on here knows that we beat the Vikings fairly. The legality of the NFL's claims to "Who Dat" can be argued over long into the spring and summer when there's nothing else to do. The Pro Bowl can just be ignored, since the Saints don't have any players featuring and even half of the CSC board members turned down an invitation to be on a roster.

The Superbowl it is, then. I'm sure everyone here is anxious for next Sunday to get here, but since we all have to wait, I've wanted to highlight the performance of both teams and see if any analysis can be made from the library of stats available to NFL fans these days. The performances on Sunday might not correlate at all to their relative performances so far this season, but stats can be a good indicator of what to expect.

1. QB's vs pass defenses.


I'm starting where everyone seems to start, with the quarterbacks.


Comp
Att
Yards
TDs
INTs
Sacked
Yards/ attempt
Yards/ comp
Comp rate %
TD rate %
INT rate %
Sack rate%
Manning
449
654
5123
38
17
14
7.6
11.4
67.2
5.7
2.5
2.0
Saints opp.
382
656
4537
16
29
36
6.5
11.9
55.2
2.3
4.2

5.2
Brees
403
577 4832
40
11
21
8.1
12.0
67.4
6.7
1.8
3.5
Colts opp.
410
649
4122
21
19
35
6.0
10.0
59.9
3.1
2.7

5.1
NFL av.
337
553
3638
23
17
35
6.1
10.8
57.3
3.9
2.9
6.0

 


Some points:

  1. Brees has performed better than Manning so far this season. He has a higher completion rate, has thrown further for each attempt and completion, has more touchdowns at a higher rate and fewer interceptions at a lower rate.

  2. That certainly isn't to say that Peyton Manning hasn't had a great season and that the Colts offense isn't formidable. Indianapolis still performed at a level much higher than most teams the Saints have faced this season.

  3. Brees' completion rate is down from the NFL record 70.6% he had at the end of the regular season. His post-season performance isn't as bad as that might indicate, though, as he's thrown 6 TDs with 0 INTs and only one sack.

  4. The Colts and Saints defenses sack opponents at a very similar rate, but Manning has been much more elusive. He's been sacked 7 times less than Drew despite 70 more passing attempts.

  5. Opponents have attempted to pass fairly equally against both teams, but the Saints defense has allowed more yards than the Colts. The Colts D therefore has allowed fewer yards per attempt and per completion.

  6. However the Saints have allowed fewer touchdowns and have come up with 10 more interceptions.

  7. Looking at CHFF.com's regular season stats for some analysis of the above, I found 8 of the 12 playoff teams were in the top 12 for yards gained per passing attempt, with only the Chargers ahead of the Saints. The Colts were 4th.

    Rank
    Team
    Attempts
    Yards
    Sacked
    Yards Lost
    YPPA
    2
    New Orleans
    544
    4490
    21
    144
    7.69
    4
    Indianapolis
    601
    4605
    13
    90
    7.35


  8. Though I'm not really a fan of QB rating as a measure of performance or success, passer rating differential can help show overall team performance as a good score requires a team to excel on both sides of the ball. 10 playoff teams were in the top 12 of this ranking, with the Saints 1st and the Colts 5th.


    Rank
    Team
    Off. PR
    Def. PR
    Net
    1
    New Orleans
    106.02
    68.58
    +37.44
    5
    Indianapolis
    95.43
    80.64
    +14.80


2. RB's vs run defenses.


Though I think that the Saints have performed better than the Colts in both pass offense and defense, the stats above were fairly similar. In the run game, though, we see bigger differences on both sides of the ball.

Team
Rushing Attempts
Yards Gained
Touchdowns
Fumbles
Yards/ Att
TD Rate
Fumble Rate
Colts
415
1537 16
13
3.7
3.9
3.1
Saints opp.
486
2221
24
27
4.6
4.9
5.6
Saints
525
2345
24
28
4.5
4.6
5.3
Colts opp.
515
2197 10
23
4.3
1.9
4.5
NFL av.
457
1942
14
25
4.2
3.0
5.5

 

  1. The Colts were 31st in rushing attempts for the regular season, and the Saints were tied 7th with the Ravens. The Colts were also 31st in yards gained per rushing attempt for the regular season, with the Saints tied 5th.

  2. The success of the Saints rushing unit is seen by many, especially the wise members of CSC (rather than the tired mainstream media), as a huge factor in pushing the team from 8-8 to 15-3.

  3. Despite the Colts deficiencies in rushing offense, they managed to score an above average number of touchdowns this season.

  4. Both run defenses have been below the NFL average in yards given up per attempt. The Saints much maligned run defense has only conceded 24 more yards than that of the Colts. However, they have given up far more touchdowns to RB's than Indianapolis.

  5. In the postseason the Colts rushing defense has given up only 173 yards and no touchdowns at 3.6 yards per attempt.

3. Total offense vs defense.




Plays
Yards
Yards / Play
1st downs
Points
PPG
TOP av
Colts
1116
5810 5.2 389
466 25.9 28:14
Saints opp.
1178
6558 5.6 356
383
21.3 29:20
Saints
1153 6460 5.6 391
586 32.6 31:20
Colts opp.
1199 6085 5.0 349
327
18.1 31:46
NFL av.
1046
5512 5.3 311 358
21.9 30:00

  1. The Saints have so far this season outgained and outscored the Colts, and have kept possession of the ball for longer. The Colts offense is still far above average in total yardage and points per game.

  2. The Colts have allowed fewer points per game than the Saints, though the Saints still have an above-average scoring defense (is that phrase banned on CSC now?) despite giving away a hefty chunk more yards than the average.
  3. The Colts have, on average, lost the TOP battle this season, but are 16-2. I don't wish to speculate as to why, but I do wonder if losing TOP to the most efficient offense in the NFL will be more dangerous than doing so against Miami or Houston.

  4. One may look to CHFF.com's Scoreability and Bendability indexes for analysis of these statistics. Scoreability ranks teams by the efficiency of their scoring. The Saints rank first in the NFL and the Colts sixth, with 10 playoff teams in the top 12. If all teams in the NFL gained the same number of all-purpose yards, the Saints would score the most points with those yards.


    Rank
    Team
    Yards
    Points
    YPPS
    1
    New Orleans
    6461
    510
    12.67
    6
    Indianapolis
    5809
    416
    13.96



  5. Bendability ranks teams ability to concede yards without conceding points. Thus it defines the bend-but-don't-break defense so often mentioned on CSC. Though many here have offered the Saints as the perfect example of this kind of defense, the Colts actually rank higher. 8 playoff teams rank in the top 12.


    Rank
    Team
    Yards
    Points
    YPPA
    5
    Indianapolis
    5427
    307
    17.68
    9
    New Orleans
    5724
    341
    16.79


[I also have a bunch of special teams stats, but looking at them, the two ST groups look very similar. Both excel at kickoff touchbacks - the Colts 26.3% and the Saints 29.1% vs the NFL average of 16.2%. Both are distinctly average at returning kickoffs and below average at returning punts. And the two teams even have similar field goal success - the Colts edging out the Saints 84% to 80%.]


Conclusion.


The two teams look very closely matched. Many in the mainstream media believe there is a much wider gap between Manning&Co and the Saints than actually exists. The two offenses score efficiently but have gained their way to their opponents endzones in different ways; the Colts almost entirely behind the league MVP, and the Saints with a surprisingly-to-many balanced rush/pass attack. The Saints also score much more heavily than their Super Bowl opponents, with a 6.7 points per game advantage. I think the Saints rushing attack matches up well with the run defense of Indianapolis. The Saints may be able to combine the running and passing games to great success in the Super Bowl.

 

Neither defense was especially lauded this season, but both have helped their team reach this point, though again in different ways. The Colts defense has managed to be average in yards given up to both the pass and the run, whilst somehow restricting teams to only 18.1 points per game so far. The Saints, whilst conceding 3.1 more points per game, has been able to come up with a huge +14 turnover differential, compared to the Colts +4. Though the Saints pass defense has given me cause to worry in the run-up to this game, especially with so many potential big-game receivers available to Manning, I wasn't aware that the Colts have been similarly poor against the pass, giving away less yards but more touchdowns.The Saints ability to create turnovers should be crucial.

 

This isn't backed up by statistic and is merely my opinion, but I forsee the Saints having a game much like Week 12 against the Patriots. I don't think Drew will throw 5 TDs as he did in that game, but I do think the Saints will win TOP, gain 100+ rushing yards and 200+ passing and overcome the Colts to win their first Superbowl.

 

OK guys, give me your analysis or predictions, or just tear me apart.

This FanPost was written by a reader and member of Canal Street Chronicles. It does not necessarily reflect the views of CSC and its staff or editors.

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