Preview: AFC Divisional Round – Colts vs. Chiefs

By MARK SIMON

Let’s take a brief look at some statistical notes ahead of the AFC Divisional Round playoff game between the Colts and Chiefs.

Colts Passing vs. Chiefs Pass Defense

    • Andrew Luck had the most Points Earned of any quarterback from Week 8 through the end of the regular season. Patrick Mahomes ranked second. Luck had one fewer pass attempt than Mahomes in that span, but his throws totaled 156 more air yards, and he took only eight sacks to Mahomes’ 19.
    • The Chiefs tied for the NFL lead in sacks with 53 and ranked third in quarterback pressures with 211. The top player in Points Saved via Pass Rush this season was linebacker Dee Ford, who ranked ninth in the NFL with 13½ sacks and ranked seventh in the league in pressure percentage (13.8 percent).
    • The Colts offensive line has allowed only 18 sacks on the season, the lowest total in the league, despite having the second most pass attempts. They are led by star rookie lineman Quenton Nelson whose blown block rate of 0.5 percent ranks as fifth-best in the league.
    • Though Eric Ebron led the Colts in touchdown receptions, T.Y. Hilton was the more valuable receiver by our Points Earned metric. Sixty percent of Hilton’s targets had a positive Expected Points Added (EPA) value (in other words, they were valuable plays). Ebron’s rate was 53 percent.
    • The Chiefs’ defense allowed the most passing yardage in the NFL, though that’s likely due to teams trying to play catch up against them. Overall, the pass defense ranked 11th in the NFL in Points Saved. The Chiefs did have two cornerbacks – Steven Nelson and Orlando Scandrick, who ranked in the top 12 in the league in lowest completion percentage against, minimum 40 targets. Nelson ranked fifth (46 percent) and Scandrick ranked 12th (49 percent).

Colts Rushing vs. Chiefs Run Defense

    • The Colts ranked 22nd in Points Earned from rushing in the first 14 weeks of the season, though they were 13th in the last three weeks, thanks to a pair of 100-yard rushing games from Marlon Mack, who had another last week against the Texans
    • The Chiefs are susceptible to the run, as 52 percent of rushes against them had a positive Expected Points value. That was the highest rate in the NFL by six percentage points. The difference between the Chiefs and the second-highest team was the same as the difference between second and 24th.
    • Marlon Mack had a big game in the Wild Card win over the Texans. For the season, Mack averages 5.2 yards per rush when running left, 4.2 per rush when running right.

Chiefs Passing vs. Colts Pass Defense

    • Patrick Mahomes threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns in 2018. Mahomes threw the seventh-most passes in the league, but the most that were at least 20 yards downfield. His 43 percent completion percentage on those passes ranked fifth. As a result, he averaged 82 yards per game on deep passes, easily best in the NFL.
    • 57 percent of pass plays the Colts gave up had a positive Expected Points value. That ranked second highest in the NFL this season. The Colts allowed a 43 percent completion percentage on 20-plus yard passes, fourth-highest in the NFL.
    • Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill had the most deep targets in the NFL (42 in which he was at least 20 yards downfield) and the most receptions (18). Next-most on the Chiefs was tight end Travis Kelce (7). Kelce, the Chiefs leading receiver, led NFL tight ends with 24 third-down receptions.

Chiefs Rushing vs. Colts Rushing Defense

    • With Kareem Hunt suspended and released, the Chiefs will go with Damien Williams as their primary ball carrier. Williams averaged 6 yards per run in the last three games of the season, which ranked fourth in the NFL in that span. That includes 6.8 yards per outside and off-tackle run (on 27 runs), which ranks fifth in that time.
  • The Colts’ rushing defense ranked 14th in points saved in the regular season. But one thing they were good at, relative to the rest of the league, was stopping outside runs, allowing only 4.3 yards per carry. They were fifth-best in the NFL in Points Saved on those runs.

Independent Quarterback Rating is Sports Info Solutions’ proprietary quarterback metric. It builds on the traditional Passer Rating formula by accounting for results that are outside of the quarterback’s control – dropped passes, dropped interceptions, throwaways, etc. – to form a better benchmark of QB value.

Nate Weller also contributed to this post.

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