Getting back to football here at the MMB, let’s take a look at a few stats of interest 4 weeks into 2017.

Per-drive stats

I always like to look at per-drive stats because it helps isolate offenses from the effect their defenses have on them and vice-versa.  For example, if an offense runs the ball a lot it shortens the game and limits the number of drives the defense has to defend, which makes their per-game numbers look very good even if their per-drive numbers are not so good.  Similarly, if the defense is so bad it keeps letting teams go on long drives against it, the offense might get fewer possessions and thus put up per-game numbers that do not necessarily reflect the quality of the offense.

Offensively, the Saints are 4th best in per-drive scoring at 2.51 points per drive.  Defensively, the Saints are 7th worst at 2.11 points allowed per drive.  Good news here is they are outscoring the opponents by 0.4 points per drive.  Further good news is the defense is playing much better in the last 2 games than it was in the first 2 games, so perhaps the trend will continue upwards.

In terms of scoring percentage (percentage of drives ending in a score of any type — whether TD or FG) the offense is 2nd best at 51.4% and 1 of only 3 teams better than 50% in this category.  League average is just 35.5%.  Defensively, Saints are 28th at 42.1%.  (Goes to show how atrocious they were in the first 2 games when even coming off a shutout win they are still 28th.)

In turnover percentage (percentage of drives that end in a turnover of any type — whether INT or fumble) the Saints offensively are tops in the league at 0%, and are the only team in the league yet to commit their first turnover.  That’s going to win you a lot of games in the NFL if you can keep that up.  Defensively, Saints are 14th best with opponents’ drives ending in turnovers 10.5% of the time.  League average is 10.5%, so the Saints D is average at this point when it comes to forcing turnovers.  I’ll take average with this defense and be a happy camper.

Taking out the garbage

Note: all information here is from pfref.com and excludes all kneel down drives.

Filtering out all drives that start or end in the 4th quarter and *only* looking at drives that start and end in the first 3 quarters allows us to eliminate garbage time stats (or at least most of them) from the rankings.  Garbage time stats can definitely skew the rankings, and we don’t want that.  (But caveat: this elimination of 4th quarter drives also eliminates a lot of key drives in the most meaningful game situations, so it’s far from the be-all end-all of ways to look at this.)

Using only first 3 quarters, the Saints offensively are 9th best (46.2%) in scoring percentage, meaning 46.2% of their drives in the first 3 quarters end in a score of some sort.  League average is 37.3%.  Defensively, Saints are 3rd worst at 50%.  Saints are down by 2.8 on the average drive when the offense gets the ball, down by 1.2 on average when the defense takes the field.

Turnover percentage for the offense is still tops, of course, with 0% (Jets, surprisingly also have 0 turnovers in the first 3 quarters of games).  Defense is 21st with 7.7% of opposing teams’ drives ending in a turnover.

Recap

Offense is 4th best in points per drive, 2nd best in scoring percentage, 1st in turnover percentage.  Excluding garbage time: 9th best in scoring percentage, 1st in turnover percentage.  Defense is 7th *worst* in points allowed per drive, 28th in scoring percentage, and 14th best in forced turnover percentage.  Excluding garbage time, defense is 3rd *worst* in scoring percentage and 21st in turnover forcing percentage.

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