Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

02 Oct 2008

ESPN Numbers Crunching: Week 5

Here's our weekly look at Sunday's matchups through the lens of the Football Outsiders numbers. Learn about the weird quarter-by-quarter splits for the Steelers offense and find out why nobody in Baltimore is going anywhere on first down Sunday.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 02 Oct 2008

8 comments, Last at 04 Oct 2008, 9:20am by MCS


by Gihyou (not verified) :: Fri, 10/03/2008 - 3:42am

What reasons would there be to explain why a defense would be good on first down, or second down, etc. much more so than on other downs? Or offense, like in the case of Kansas City, which is apparently a juggernaut on second downs but horrible on first and third?

by Independent George :: Fri, 10/03/2008 - 1:08pm

If you're good on 1st & 2nd down, you'll have fewer 3rd downs (in better situations) for comparison. A few random bounces of the ball on 3rd down will have a disproportionate impact statistically, and the results are more likely to be skewed to the negative.

If you're bad on 1st & 2nd down, 3rd downs tend to be more difficult, and the distribution tends to be flatter. A few random bounces of the ball have less overall impact, but the results are more likely to be skewed to the positive side.

by cbirkemeier :: Fri, 10/03/2008 - 8:40am

Regarding the fact that the Bengals are struggling so much in the first quarter, I'm just wondering if they are running the ball more often than they were a year ago. It seems that their offense stagnates until the end of the second quarter when they abandon the run. After that drive works, they return to trying to "establish the run" in the third quarter, and their offense does nothing until it's too late in the fourth quarter.

by Keasley (not verified) :: Fri, 10/03/2008 - 3:28pm

According to the write-up on ESPN, both the Seahawks and the Saints are #2 in the league against the run in the red zone.

What are their actual respective rankings?

by mrh (not verified) :: Fri, 10/03/2008 - 4:07pm

"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"
Maybe this is because outside the red zone, Jacobs has 47 carries to 21 for Ward and 6 for Bradshaw, but inside it, Jacobs has just 3 carries to Ward's 5 and Bradshaw's 1. In other words, Jacobs gets 2/3 of the carries before the red zone and then only 1/3 inside it.

Last year, Jacobs had 176 non-RZ carries and the other Giants' backs had 179, but only 24 RZ rushes vs. 54 for the other guys. So this is not a new phenomenon.

by tuluse :: Fri, 10/03/2008 - 5:00pm

Wasn't Jacobs hurt last year?

And Coughlin had a weird fascination with giving Ruben Droughns short yardage carries?

by Matt-New York (not verified) :: Sat, 10/04/2008 - 2:47am

I have no idea why Coughlin doesn't use Jacobs in the red zone. There has to be a reason, right?

by MCS :: Sat, 10/04/2008 - 9:20am

"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."

What's so weird about it? Wouldn't you expect a team to play much better at home than they would in a hostile road environment?