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Rams-49ers: Key Stats Analysis - Week 6

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Throughout the 2014 season, I'll be keeping track of four key team statistical measures, and how they affect the outcome of every Rams game: Turnover Differential, Big Play Differential, Points Per Drive Differential, and Team Penalty Yards Differential. In addition, I'll keep track of the score at half-time. Is there a correlation between these statistics and the Rams' win/loss record?

Michael Thomas

In the Week 3 game before the bye, the Rams came out hot in the first half against the Dallas Cowboys, opening up a 21-0 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the half. Much of the first half against the San Francisco 49ers on MNF resembled the earlier game against the Cowboys. The Rams jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, and held an 11-point cushion with seconds left in the first half. It pretty much went downhill from there. This was another eminently winnable game, with mistakes and mental miscues ultimately deciding the outcome.

Throughout the 2014 season, I'll be tracking five key team statistical measures, and their affect on the outcome of every Rams game: Turnover Differential, Big Play Differential, Points Per Drive Differential, Team Penalty Yards Differential, and the score of the game at half-time. When combined, Turnover Differential and Big Play Differential creates a statistic commonly referred to as "Toxic Differential".

Why were these 5 particular metrics selected for tracking throughout the 2014 season? Turnovers and Big Plays have proven to be influential in determining the outcome of a game. There's a historically strong correlation between Points Per Drive Differential and a teams regular season record. The score at half-time and Team Penalty Yards Differential were selected specifically with the Rams in mind. There appears to be a strong correlation between the score at half-time and the Rams' win/loss record. The Rams - under Jeff Fisher - have been among the league leaders in penalties, to their detriment.

NFL Stats

Turnover Differential

It's a widely held belief that winning the turnover battle is important to a teams success on the field. The Rams finished with 7 wins in 2013. The team had a positive turnover differential in 6 of those wins, and a zero differential in the other victory. Overall, the Rams finished 9'th in Turnover Differential (plus +8) last season. In 2013, the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks led the NFL in this key statistic.

With a minute left in the game against the 49ers - and the Rams losing 24-17 - QB Austin Davis threw an interception at the Rams 20-yard line, which was returned for a touchdown by DB Dontae Johnson. Could the Rams have marched the length of the field and tied the game? We'll never know. The Rams recovered an inconsequential fumble late in the first quarter, which represented their only takeaway in this contest. For the game, the Rams Turnover Differential was Even (1 apiece).

The Rams are currently tied for 22'nd in the league in Turnover Differential (minus -3).

Team Turnover Differential Statistics
Team Takeaways Giveaways Turnover Differential
1 New England Patriots 14 5 9
2 Green Bay Packers 13 4 9
3 Arizona Cardinals 11 3 8
4 San Diego Chargers 9 2 7
5 Carolina Panthers 12 7 5
6 San Francisco 49ers 11 6 5
7 Houston Texans 14 10 4
8 Cleveland Browns 5 2 3
9 Buffalo Bills 10 7 3
10 Baltimore Ravens 9 7 2
11 Chicago Bears 12 10 2
12 Cincinnati Bengals 8 6 2
13 Tennessee Titans 9 7 2
14 Detroit Lions 9 8 1
15 New York Giants 12 11 1
16 Seattle Seahawks 5 4 1
17 Indianapolis Colts 12 11 1
18 Denver Broncos 5 4 1
19 Pittsburgh Steelers 6 7 -1
20 Dallas Cowboys 10 12 -2
21 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10 12 -2
22 Miami Dolphins 8 11 -3
23 Kansas City Chiefs 3 6 -3
24 St. Louis Rams 7 10 -3
25 Atlanta Falcons 9 12 -3
26 Minnesota Vikings 5 10 -5
27 Philadelphia Eagles 9 14 -5
28 Oakland Raiders 5 10 -5
29 Jacksonville Jaguars 4 12 -8
30 New Orleans Saints 2 10 -8
31 Washington Redskins 4 13 -9
32 New York Jets 3 12 -9

Team Penalty Yards Differential

In 2013, the Rams were the 2'nd most penalized team in the NFL, averaging 7.7 Team Penalties Per Game. An excessive number of penalties can stall drives, and can keep opponents' drives alive. In an average NFL game, the officials will call between 12-14 penalties per game (both teams combined). The Rams' goals should be to have no more than 6 penalties per game, plus a positive Team Penalty Yards Differential.

The Rams were flagged for 8 penalties - totalling 38 yards - in the game against San Francisco. The 49ers committed 5 penalties for 23 yards. For the Rams, the result was a negative Team Penalty Yards Differential of 15 yards, their best showing of the season. Unfortunately, a pair of questionable calls - defensive holding on T.J. McDonald, and offensive pass interference against Jared Cook - led to 49er touchdowns.

After 5 games, the Rams are tied for 4'th most-penalized team in the NFL, averaging 8.8 penalties per game. The Rams are 5'th in the league in most penalty yards (425), and are worst in the league in Team Penalty Yards Differential (-258). In an interesting twist, the Rams rank 2'nd in the NFL in fewest Opponent Penalty Yards (167). Apparently the officials aren't too keen on penalizing the Rams' opponents.

Team Penalty Yards Differential
Rank Team GP Pen Yds Opp. Pen Yds Pen Yds Diff Pen Yds Diff/Game
1 New Orleans Saints 5 166 333 167 10.44
2 Baltimore Ravens 6 242 399 157 9.81
3 Philadelphia Eagles 6 344 492 148 9.25
4 Jacksonville Jaguars 6 215 349 134 8.38
5 Miami Dolphins 5 171 287 116 7.25
6 Kansas City Chiefs 5 174 286 112 7.00
7 New York Giants 6 281 390 109 6.81
8 Arizona Cardinals 5 253 353 100 6.25
9 Oakland Raiders 5 252 344 92 5.75
10 Chicago Bears 6 369 456 87 5.44
11 Minnesota Vikings 6 353 434 81 5.06
12 Green Bay Packers 6 273 353 80 5.00
13 Dallas Cowboys 6 264 340 76 4.75
14 San Diego Chargers 6 337 391 54 3.38
15 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6 361 415 54 3.38
16 Cincinnati Bengals 5 306 358 52 3.25
17 Carolina Panthers 6 354 378 24 1.50
18 Detroit Lions 6 293 266 -27 -1.69
19 Cleveland Browns 5 313 277 -36 -2.25
20 Indianapolis Colts 6 383 345 -38 -2.38
21 New York Jets 6 400 359 -41 -2.56
22 Washington Redskins 6 480 423 -57 -3.56
23 Seattle Seahawks 5 304 221 -83 -5.19
24 Houston Texans 6 361 273 -88 -5.50
25 Atlanta Falcons 6 385 294 -91 -5.69
26 San Francisco 49ers 6 416 303 -113 -7.06
27 Tennessee Titans 6 423 297 -126 -7.88
28 Pittsburgh Steelers 6 479 339 -140 -8.75
29 Buffalo Bills 6 479 319 -160 -10.00
30 Denver Broncos 5 336 165 -171 -10.69
31 New England Patriots 6 526 312 -214 -13.38
32 St. Louis Rams 5 425 167 -258 -16.13

Big Play Differential

Big Play Differential is the difference between the number of big plays - running plays of 10+ yards plus passing plays of 25+ yards - an offense creates, and the number of big plays a defense allows. How important are big plays to a teams offense/defense? Last season, NFL teams averaged 0.8 points per drive without a big play, and 3.9 points per drive with at least one of them.

In the game against San Francisco, the Rams' offense produced 1 rushing big play, and 1 passing big play, a poor showing in contrast to their 10 big plays against the Eagles. The Rams' defense gave up 5 big plays in total, a minus -3 Big Play Differential for the game. Two of the passing big plays the Rams allowed resulted in touchdowns. The first - an 80-yard completion to Brandon Lloyd with 27 seconds left in the first half - allowed the 49ers to close the deficit to 14-10 at the half. That one play changed the complexity of the entire game. The Rams never seemed to recover from it. The second - a 32-yard completion to Michael Crabtree late in the 3'rd quarter - allowed the 49ers to head into the 4'th quarter with a 24-14 lead.

The Rams are currently tied for 21'st in the league in Big Play Differential (minus -4).

Team Big Plays Statistics
Rank Team Plays Big Plays Rush Pass Big Play % BPA +/-
10 San Francisco 49ers 392 33 22 11 8.42% 14 19
7 Denver Broncos 329 29 16 13 8.81% 12 17
3 Seattle Seahawks 292 27 19 8 9.25% 16 11
5 Dallas Cowboys 401 36 29 7 8.98% 27 9
8 Washington Redskins 383 33 17 16 8.62% 24 9
11 Chicago Bears 392 32 19 13 8.16% 23 9
31 Detroit Lions 394 23 11 12 5.84% 15 8
1 Cleveland Browns 321 35 23 12 10.9% 29 6
2 Baltimore Ravens 396 38 26 12 9.6% 32 6
28 Buffalo Bills 382 24 11 13 6.28% 20 4
4 Philadelphia Eagles 410 37 24 13 9.02% 34 3
9 Tennessee Titans 355 30 21 9 8.45% 27 3
16 Miami Dolphins 333 25 20 5 7.51% 22 3
18 Minnesota Vikings 384 27 18 9 7.03% 25 2
6 Pittsburgh Steelers 406 36 20 16 8.87% 36 0
17 New Orleans Saints 352 26 19 7 7.39% 27 -1
24 New York Jets 386 25 18 7 6.48% 26 -1
26 New England Patriots 407 26 15 11 6.39% 27 -1
12 Cincinnati Bengals 313 25 14 11 7.99% 27 -2
25 Arizona Cardinals 311 20 12 8 6.43% 23 -3
19 St. Louis Rams 342 24 13 11 7.02% 28 -4
22 San Diego Chargers 399 26 12 14 6.52% 30 -4
13 Atlanta Falcons 384 30 18 12 7.81% 35 -5
15 Houston Texans 354 27 17 10 7.63% 33 -6
20 Kansas City Chiefs 318 22 16 6 6.92% 29 -7
21 Jacksonville Jaguars 366 24 14 10 6.56% 33 -9
27 Oakland Raiders 282 18 10 8 6.38% 27 -9
23 Green Bay Packers 354 23 17 6 6.5% 33 -10
14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 349 27 15 12 7.74% 38 -11
29 Indianapolis Colts 460 28 16 12 6.09% 40 -12
30 New York Giants 398 24 15 9 6.03% 36 -12
32 Carolina Panthers 390 19 11 8 4.87% 31 -12

Points Per Drive Differential

Points Per Drive Differential is a derivative of Points Scored/Allowed. It measures the number of points generated/allowed on an average drive. 13 teams reached the playoffs/won 10 games in 2013. 12 of them finished in the top dozen in Points Per Drive Differential. Successful teams with winning records are normally the most efficient - both offensively and defensively - and consistently generate positive PPD Differentials.

In Sunday's game, the Rams had 14 drives in total, and scored 17 points on those drives (1.21 points per drive). The 49ers had 12 drives in total, and scored 24 points on those drives (2.0 points per drive). The Rams' Points Per Drive Differential versus the 49ers: Minus -0.79.

After 5 games, the Rams rank 30'th in the league in Points Per Drive Differential (minus -1.04).

Team Points Per Drive Statistics
Team Points Per Drive Points Per Drive Against Point Differential
1 San Diego Chargers 2.6 1.4 1.2
2 Baltimore Ravens 2.52 1.54 0.98
3 Philadelphia Eagles 2.44 1.57 0.87
4 Denver Broncos 2.37 1.65 0.72
5 Indianapolis Colts 2.55 1.92 0.64
6 Dallas Cowboys 2.58 1.97 0.61
7 Green Bay Packers 2.6 2.03 0.57
8 Detroit Lions 1.66 1.14 0.52
9 Cleveland Browns 2.48 1.98 0.5
10 New England Patriots 2.29 1.82 0.47
11 Kansas City Chiefs 2.25 1.84 0.41
12 Seattle Seahawks 2.33 1.98 0.35
13 Cincinnati Bengals 2.27 1.98 0.29
14 San Francisco 49ers 2.2 1.95 0.25
15 Houston Texans 1.89 1.64 0.24
16 Arizona Cardinals 2 1.8 0.2
17 New York Giants 1.9 1.89 0.01
18 Miami Dolphins 1.9 2 -0.1
19 Chicago Bears 2.1 2.22 -0.11
20 Atlanta Falcons 2.38 2.5 -0.12
21 Buffalo Bills 1.55 1.68 -0.13
22 Carolina Panthers 2.2 2.42 -0.21
23 New Orleans Saints 2.54 2.82 -0.28
24 Pittsburgh Steelers 1.88 2.21 -0.33
25 Washington Redskins 1.74 2.34 -0.6
26 Minnesota Vikings 1.46 2.1 -0.64
27 Tennessee Titans 1.46 2.15 -0.69
28 New York Jets 1.33 2.19 -0.86
29 Oakland Raiders 1.46 2.48 -1.02
30 St. Louis Rams 1.74 2.78 -1.04
31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1.79 2.96 -1.17
32 Jacksonville Jaguars 1.13 2.64 -1.52

Score At Half-Time

In 2013, the Rams finished with a 7-9 record. In all 7 victories, the Rams were either tied or leading at half-time. In their only victory this season, the Rams were leading at half-time.

Despite leading 14-10 at the half, the Rams could not hold on for the victory. The 49ers outscored the Rams 21-3 in the second half, and went on to win the game 31-17.

Weekly Summary

Week Turnover Diff. Big Play Diff. PPD Diff. PY Diff. Half-Time Game Score
1 Negative Negative Negative Negative 0  13 Lost 34-6
2 Even Negative Positive Negative 10  7 Won 19-17
3 Negative Negative Negative Negative 21  10 Lost 34-31
4 - - - - - Bye Week
5 Even Positive Positive Negative 7  20 Lost 34-28
6 Even Negative Negative Negative 14  10 Lost 31-17

Although the Rams have lost three straight, those losses were against teams with a combined 14-4 record this season. All three games were winnable. The Rams had the ball in their possession at the end of each of them, with a chance to win or tie. If the Rams can improve in the areas noted in this statistical analysis, the wins will come.

Pro Football Focus Grades

As an added feature, OakCityRam is contributing his weekly compilation of Pro Football Focus grades for each Rams player. Although PFF grades have their shortcomings and are quite subjective, they do offer a unique perspective, and are a valuable tool for analyzing individual player performance, especially when used in combination with other statistics.

NFL Rank DEFENSE VS. 49ers Play Counts Ratings Run Pass Pass
Pos. # Name Total Run Rush Cov. Overall Defense Rush Cov. Penalty
20/51 DLE 95 William Hayes * 46 19 27 0 4.1 1.6 3.3 0 -0.8
35/80 FS 23 Rodney McLeod * 65 28 0 37 2 0.3 0 1.6 0.1
5/74 DLT 99 Aaron Donald * 61 27 34 0 1.5 0.6 0.2 0.5 0.2
Not Rated SCB 20 Lamarcus Joyner 27 8 1 18 1.3 0 0.4 0.9 0
44/65 MLB 55 James Laurinaitis * 69 31 4 34 1.1 0.6 -0.3 0.7 0.1
35/51 DRE 97 Eugene Sims 28 12 16 0 1.1 1.8 -0.8 0 0.1
50/74 DRT 90 Michael Brockers * 40 20 20 0 0.5 1.4 -1 0 0.1
30/32 WLB 52 Alec Ogletree * 69 31 2 36 0.2 1.6 -0.2 -1.3 0.1
15/103 LCB 33 E.J. Gaines * 62 27 0 35 0.2 0.2 0 -0.1 0.1
Not Rated WLB 53 Daren Bates 4 3 0 1 0.1 0.1 0 0 0
74/80 SS 25 T.J. McDonald * 69 31 2 36 -0.6 0.4 -0.2 -0.9 0.1
32/51 DRE 94 Robert Quinn * 53 21 32 0 -1.4 1.1 -1.7 0 -0.8
Not Rated DLE 93 Ethan Westbrooks 27 15 12 0 -2.7 -1.3 -0.5 0 -0.9
25/32 SLB 58 JoLonn Dunbar * 44 23 4 17 -3 1.4 -0.3 -4.2 0.1
61/74 DLT 98 Kendall Langford 30 17 13 0 -3.1 -3.5 0.3 0 0.1
59/103 RCB 21 Janoris Jenkins * 65 28 0 37 -3.3 0.2 0 -3.6 0.1

NFL Rank OFFENSE VS. 49ers Play Counts Ratings Pass Screen Run
Pos. # Name Total Run Pass Run Block Pass Block Overall Pass Rush Block Block Block Penalty
7/60 TE-R 89 Jared Cook * 62 0 40 19 3 2 1.7 0 -0.3 0 1.4 -0.8
Not Rated LG 79 Greg Robinson * 76 0 0 26 50 1 -0.5 0 1.3 0.2
15/75 RG 76 Rodger Saffold * 76 0 0 26 50 1 1 0 -0.2 0.2
Not Rated HB 27 Tre Mason 9 5 2 0 2 0.6 0.5 1 -0.9 0 0 0
54/111 RWR 81 Kenny Britt * 52 0 38 14 0 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0.1
19/56 HB 30 Zac Stacy * 26 8 14 1 3 -0.2 0.2 -0.6 0.2 0 0 0
Not Rated RWR 12 Stedman Bailey 5 0 4 1 0 -0.2 -0.2 0 0 0 0 0
Not Rated SLWR 11 Tavon Austin * 26 3 19 4 0 -0.5 -0.3 -0.2 0 0 0 0
Not Rated C 61 Tim Barnes 2 0 0 1 1 -0.5 0 0 -0.5 0
73/111 SLWR 18 Austin Pettis 39 0 32 7 0 -0.7 -0.8 0 0 0 0 0.1
Not Rated FB 46 Cory Harkey 16 0 2 13 1 -1.5 0 0 -1.4 0 -0.1 0
44/111 LWR 83 Brian Quick * 70 0 45 25 0 -1.7 -1.3 0 0 0 -0.5 0.1
35/72 LT 77 Jake Long * 76 0 0 26 50 -1.9 1 -0.5 -1.7 -0.7
41/56 HB 36 Benny Cunningham 39 7 24 2 6 -2 0 0.1 -2.1 0 0 0
1/72 RT 72 Joe Barksdale * 76 0 0 26 50 -2.4 -3 0 0.3 0.3
41/60 TE-L 88 Lance Kendricks 34 0 10 20 4 -3.1 0.2 0 -2.3 0 -1.1 0.1
38/38 C 63 Scott Wells * 76 0 0 26 50 -5.4 -2.8 0 -2.7 0.1
30/38 QB 9 Austin Davis * 76 1 50 25 0 -6.2 -6.3 0 0 0 0 0.1

NFL Rank SPECIAL TEAMS Ratings
Pos. # Name Overall Kickoffs Punts FG/EP Penalty # of Pen Tks Ass MT
62/850 ST 12 Stedman Bailey 1 0 1 0 0 2 0 0
286/850 ST 11 Tavon Austin 0.8 0 0.8 0 0 0 0 0
18/46 K 4 Greg Zuerlein 0.8 0.9 0 -0.1 0 0 0 0
38/850 ST 20 Lamarcus Joyner 0.5 0 0.5 0 0 2 0 1
38/850 ST 42 Trey Watts 0.5 0 0.5 0 0 1 0 0
160/850 ST 36 Benny Cunningham 0.3 0.3 0 0 0 0 0 0
697/850 ST 53 Daren Bates 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0
62/850 ST 46 Cory Harkey 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
9/33 P 6 Johnny Hekker 0 -0.2 0.2 0 0 0 0 0
486/850 ST 21 Janoris Jenkins -0.5 0 -0.5 0 0 1 0 0 0
486/850 ST 97 Eugene Sims -0.5 -0.5 0 0 0 0 0 0
609/850 ST 38 Cody Davis -1.5 -0.5 -1 0 0 0 0 0

Aaron Donald and Greg Robinson had their first starts of the season, and both achieved positive grades against the 49ers. Expect Donald and Robinson to remain starters.

Tre Mason saw his first action on the active roster, and ended the game as the only RB on the Rams' roster with a positive grade.

Janoris Jenkins was the lowest graded Rams defender, and allowed the touchdown to Brandon Lloyd, a big turning point in the game.

Joe Barksdale remains the highest graded RT in the league, despite his less than stellar performance against the 49ers. Scott Wells and Jake Long continue to struggle, with Wells once again grading out as the worst offensive lineman for the Rams. Wells remains the lowest-graded centre in the entire league.

Defensively, both Aaron Donald and E.J. Gaines continue to impress. They are the highest-graded Rams defenders over the first 5 games of the season.