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Rams-Seahawks: Key Stats Analysis - Week 7

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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?

Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams' win against Seattle on Sunday almost defies conventional statistical analysis. Special teams played the critical role in the Rams' 28-26 victory against the Seahawks. A 75-yard kickoff return by Benny Cunningham set up the Rams' first touchdown of the game in the 1'st quarter. A 90-yard "misdirection" punt return by Stedman Bailey gave the Rams a 21-3 lead mid-way through the second quarter. A fake punt deep in Rams territory late in the game preserved the victory.

Perhaps Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said it best, in putting Sunday's game into perspective:

Notwithstanding the incredible special teams play, the Rams executed quite well in this game, avoiding turnovers, major mistakes, and penalties. The Rams had their lowest penalty total of the season, and the game against the Seahawks was their first this season without a turnover/giveaway.

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.

For the first time this season, turnovers did not play a role in the outcome of a Rams game. The Turnover Differential against the Seahawks was Even/Zero. Neither team turned over the ball in Sunday's game.

The Rams are currently tied for 25'th in the league in Turnover Differential (minus -3).

Team Turnover Differential Statistics
Team Takeaways Giveaways Turnover Differential
1 Green Bay Packers 14 4 10
2 New England Patriots 14 5 9
3 Arizona Cardinals 11 4 7
4 San Diego Chargers 9 3 6
5 Cincinnati Bengals 10 6 4
6 Carolina Panthers 12 8 4
7 San Francisco 49ers 11 7 4
8 Houston Texans 14 10 4
9 Cleveland Browns 8 5 3
10 Tennessee Titans 11 9 2
11 Denver Broncos 6 4 2
12 Detroit Lions 11 10 1
13 Buffalo Bills 12 11 1
14 Seattle Seahawks 5 4 1
15 New York Giants 13 13 0
16 Miami Dolphins 11 11 0
17 Baltimore Ravens 10 10 0
18 Pittsburgh Steelers 6 7 -1
19 Dallas Cowboys 12 13 -1
20 Chicago Bears 12 13 -1
21 Indianapolis Colts 12 13 -1
22 Atlanta Falcons 12 13 -1
23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10 12 -2
24 Kansas City Chiefs 4 6 -2
25 St. Louis Rams 7 10 -3
26 Minnesota Vikings 9 12 -3
27 Oakland Raiders 6 10 -4
28 Philadelphia Eagles 9 14 -5
29 Jacksonville Jaguars 7 15 -8
30 New Orleans Saints 4 12 -8
31 Washington Redskins 6 15 -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 2 penalties - totalling 20 yards - in the game against Seattle. The Seahawks committed 10 penalties for 89 yards. For the Rams, the result was a positive Team Penalty Yards Differential of 69 yards, by far their best showing of the season. The Rams' number of penalties and penalty yards were their lowest totals this season. The Rams finished the Seattle game with a positive differential for the first time in 6 contests.

After 6 games, the Rams are the 10'th most-penalized team in the NFL, averaging 7.7 penalties per game. The Rams are 9'th in the league in most penalty yards (445), and are 2'nd worst in the league in Team Penalty Yards Differential (-189). In an interesting twist, the Rams rank 3'rd in the NFL in fewest Opponent Penalty Yards (256). 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 Baltimore Ravens 7 314 475 161 10.06
2 Jacksonville Jaguars 7 240 399 159 9.94
3 Chicago Bears 7 384 540 156 9.75
4 Philadelphia Eagles 6 344 493 149 9.31
5 Arizona Cardinals 6 296 427 131 8.19
6 Green Bay Packers 7 302 423 121 7.56
7 New York Giants 7 322 436 114 7.13
8 New Orleans Saints 6 300 404 104 6.50
9 Cincinnati Bengals 6 326 415 89 5.56
10 Kansas City Chiefs 6 247 335 88 5.50
11 Minnesota Vikings 7 403 482 79 4.94
12 San Diego Chargers 7 386 463 77 4.81
13 Dallas Cowboys 7 310 380 70 4.38
14 Oakland Raiders 6 325 387 62 3.88
15 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6 361 415 54 3.38
16 Miami Dolphins 6 255 302 47 2.94
17 Detroit Lions 7 364 400 36 2.25
18 Washington Redskins 7 530 519 -11 -0.69
19 Carolina Panthers 7 424 407 -17 -1.06
20 New York Jets 7 470 423 -47 -2.94
21 Cleveland Browns 6 363 302 -61 -3.81
22 Indianapolis Colts 7 440 365 -75 -4.69
23 Houston Texans 6 361 273 -88 -5.50
24 Atlanta Falcons 7 461 366 -95 -5.94
25 San Francisco 49ers 7 478 378 -100 -6.25
26 Pittsburgh Steelers 6 479 339 -140 -8.75
27 Seattle Seahawks 6 393 241 -152 -9.50
28 Buffalo Bills 7 527 369 -158 -9.88
29 Tennessee Titans 7 519 347 -172 -10.75
30 Denver Broncos 6 411 227 -184 -11.50
31 St. Louis Rams 6 445 256 -189 -11.81
32 New England Patriots 7 590 382 -208 -13.00

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 Seattle, the Rams' offense produced 2 rushing big plays, and 1 passing big play, with Austin Davis leading a conservative, short-yardage passing game. The Rams' defense gave up 7 big plays in total, a minus -4 Big Play Differential for the game.

The Rams currently rank 25'th in the league in Big Play Differential (-8).

Team Big Plays Statistics
Rank Team Plays Big Plays Rush Pass Big Play % BPA +/-
6 Denver Broncos 385 35 18 17 9.09% 16 19
9 San Francisco 49ers 461 37 23 14 8.03% 20 17
3 Seattle Seahawks 360 34 24 10 9.44% 19 15
5 Washington Redskins 440 41 22 19 9.32% 26 15
2 Dallas Cowboys 461 44 35 9 9.54% 32 12
4 Baltimore Ravens 458 43 29 14 9.39% 33 10
16 Miami Dolphins 402 30 23 7 7.46% 23 7
31 Detroit Lions 461 27 13 14 5.86% 21 6
13 Minnesota Vikings 444 34 23 11 7.66% 29 5
17 Chicago Bears 443 33 20 13 7.45% 28 5
7 Philadelphia Eagles 410 37 24 13 9.02% 34 3
25 New York Jets 466 31 23 8 6.65% 28 3
1 Cleveland Browns 395 38 25 13 9.62% 37 1
14 New Orleans Saints 419 32 23 9 7.64% 31 1
29 Buffalo Bills 450 28 13 15 6.22% 27 1
8 Pittsburgh Steelers 406 36 20 16 8.87% 36 0
26 Arizona Cardinals 380 25 15 10 6.58% 26 -1
10 Tennessee Titans 404 32 22 10 7.92% 35 -3
20 San Diego Chargers 448 31 15 16 6.92% 34 -3
18 Jacksonville Jaguars 434 32 20 12 7.37% 36 -4
11 Green Bay Packers 410 32 23 9 7.8% 37 -5
23 Indianapolis Colts 538 37 22 15 6.88% 42 -5
30 New England Patriots 460 28 16 12 6.09% 33 -5
15 Houston Texans 354 27 17 10 7.63% 33 -6
21 St. Louis Rams 391 27 15 12 6.91% 35 -8
24 Kansas City Chiefs 388 26 19 7 6.7% 34 -8
19 Cincinnati Bengals 367 27 15 12 7.36% 36 -9
22 Atlanta Falcons 449 31 19 12 6.9% 40 -9
12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 349 27 15 12 7.74% 38 -11
27 Oakland Raiders 330 21 12 9 6.36% 32 -11
28 New York Giants 458 29 19 10 6.33% 44 -15
32 Carolina Panthers 457 23 14 9 5.03% 40 -17

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 9 drives in total, and scored 21 points on those drives (2.33 points per drive). The Seahawks also had 9 drives in total, and scored 26 points on those drives (2.89 points per drive). The Rams' Points Per Drive Differential versus the Seahawks: Minus -0.56.

After 6 games, the Rams rank 29'th in the league in Points Per Drive Differential (-0.87).

Team Points Per Drive Statistics
Team Points Per Drive Points Per Drive Against Point Differential
1 Baltimore Ravens 2.54 1.39 1.15
2 San Diego Chargers 2.52 1.5 1.02
3 Denver Broncos 2.55 1.64 0.92
4 Indianapolis Colts 2.48 1.6 0.88
5 Philadelphia Eagles 2.44 1.57 0.87
6 Green Bay Packers 2.69 1.93 0.76
7 Dallas Cowboys 2.61 1.96 0.65
8 Detroit Lions 1.71 1.25 0.46
9 New England Patriots 2.34 1.9 0.44
10 Arizona Cardinals 2.06 1.7 0.36
11 Kansas City Chiefs 2.22 1.86 0.36
12 Seattle Seahawks 2.41 2.14 0.27
13 Houston Texans 1.89 1.64 0.24
14 Cleveland Browns 2.03 1.88 0.15
15 Miami Dolphins 2.01 1.94 0.07
16 San Francisco 49ers 2.11 2.2 -0.09
17 New York Giants 1.9 2.01 -0.11
18 Buffalo Bills 1.52 1.63 -0.12
19 Cincinnati Bengals 1.84 2 -0.16
20 New Orleans Saints 2.42 2.66 -0.24
21 Chicago Bears 2.04 2.28 -0.24
22 Pittsburgh Steelers 1.88 2.21 -0.33
23 Atlanta Falcons 2.11 2.52 -0.41
24 Carolina Panthers 2.08 2.53 -0.45
25 Minnesota Vikings 1.45 1.98 -0.53
26 Washington Redskins 1.74 2.29 -0.55
27 Tennessee Titans 1.51 2.1 -0.59
28 New York Jets 1.48 2.26 -0.78
29 St. Louis Rams 1.93 2.79 -0.87
30 Oakland Raiders 1.42 2.47 -1.05
31 Jacksonville Jaguars 1.19 2.25 -1.05
32 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1.79 2.96 -1.17

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 the win against Tampa Bay this season, the Rams were leading at half-time.

Against Seattle, the Rams were once again on fire in the first half, taking a 21-6 lead into the locker at half-time. They held on in the second half, defeating the Seahawks 28-26.

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
6 Even Negative Negative Positive 21  6 Won 28-26

As noted, special teams played a crucial role in the Rams' victory over the Seattle Seahawks. The Rams holding on to the ball - and minimizing penalties - also were critical factors in this game. Significantly, in all 9 victories dating back to the 2013 season, the Rams were leading at half-time.

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.

PFF OFFENSE Play Counts Ratings
NFL Rank Pos. # Name Total Run Pass Run Block Pass Block Overall Pass Rush Pass Block Screen Block Run Block Penalty
14/78 LG 79 Greg Robinson * 51 0 0 29 22 2.8 0.9 0 1.8 0.1
32/61 TE-L 88 Lance Kendricks * 35 0 9 24 2 2.4 0.7 0 0.1 0 1.5 0.1
25/37 QB 9 Austin Davis * 51 2 22 27 0 1.8 1.7 0 0 0 0 0.1
41/41 C 63 Scott Wells * 51 0 0 29 22 1.4 0.5 0 0.8 0.1
Not Rated RT 73 Mike Person 1 0 0 1 0 0.5 0 0 0.5 0
2/71 RT 72 Joe Barksdale * 51 0 0 29 22 0.3 -1.2 0 1.3 0.2
21/21 FB 46 Cory Harkey * 26 0 5 21 0 0.3 0.4 0 0 0 -0.1 0
Not Rated SRWR 13 Chris Givens 5 0 4 1 0 0.3 0.3 0 0 0 0 0
69/78 RG 69 Davin Joseph 10 0 0 7 3 0.2 0.1 0 0.1 0
Not Rated SRWR 12 Stedman Bailey 2 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
18/57 HB 30 Zac Stacy 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
57/110 RWR 81 Kenny Britt * 34 0 18 16 0 -0.1 -0.2 0 0 0 0 0.1
9/61 TE-R 89 Jared Cook 34 0 15 18 1 -0.4 0 0 0.1 0 -0.6 0.1
44/57 HB 36 Benny Cunningham * 19 2 13 2 2 -0.6 0.7 -0.4 -0.9 0 0 0
57/110 LWR 83 Brian Quick * 50 0 22 28 0 -0.9 0.1 0 0 0 -0.1 -0.9
Not Rated SLWR 11 Tavon Austin 21 5 11 5 0 -1.1 -0.4 -0.7 0 0 0 0
40/71 LT 77 Jake Long * 51 0 0 29 22 -1.2 -0.7 0 -0.7 0.2
22/78 RG 76 Rodger Saffold * 41 0 0 22 19 -1.4 -0.2 0 -1.3 0.1
HB 27 Tre Mason 27 18 6 3 0 -1.6 -0.1 -1.5 0 0 0 0

PFF DEFENSE Play Counts Ratings
NFL Rank Pos. # Name Total Run Rush Cov. Overall Run Defense Pass Rush Pass Cov. Penalty
1/71 DLT 99 Aaron Donald * 53 20 33 0 4.9 2.4 2.3 0 0.2
23/32 SLB 58 JoLonn Dunbar * 27 14 2 11 1.8 1.8 -0.2 0.2 0
39/63 MLB 55 James Laurinaitis * 73 30 3 40 1.3 0.6 -0.2 0.8 0.1
29/51 DLE 97 Eugene Sims 48 17 31 0 1.3 0.7 0.4 0 0.2
31/51 DRE 94 Robert Quinn * 57 22 35 0 0.9 -1.4 2.1 0 0.2
Not Rated FS 23 Rodney McLeod * 73 30 2 41 0.8 0.3 -0.2 0.6 0.1
50/71 DLT 98 Kendall Langford 28 16 12 0 0.5 0 0.4 0 0.1
13/104 LCB 33 E.J. Gaines * 73 30 0 43 0.4 0.2 0.5 -0.4 0.1
55/104 RCB 21 Janoris Jenkins * 58 25 2 31 0.3 1.1 -0.2 -0.7 0.1
66/104 SCB 20 Lamarcus Joyner 46 16 3 27 0.1 0.6 -0.3 -0.3 0.1
Not Rated FS 38 Cody Davis 3 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0
Not Rated RCB 47 Marcus Roberson 15 5 0 10 -0.3 0 0 -0.3 0
19/51 DLE 95 William Hayes * 58 25 33 0 -0.5 -0.5 -0.2 0 0.2
Not Rated DRT 92 Alex Carrington 10 5 5 0 -0.5 -0.2 -0.3 0 0
77/82 SS 25 T.J. McDonald * 73 30 3 40 -0.7 1.3 -0.2 -1.9 0.1
50/71 DRT 90 Michael Brockers * 35 15 20 0 -0.9 -2 1 0 0.1
32/32 WLB 52 Alec Ogletree * 73 30 5 38 -4 -1.4 0.1 -2.8 0.1

PFF Special Teams Ratings
NFL Rank Pos. # Name Overall Kickoffs Punts FG/EP Penalty # of Pen Tks Ass MT
5/33 P 6 Johnny Hekker 4 0 4 0 0 0-0 0 0 0
299/886 ST 36 Benny Cunningham 1.3 1.3 0 0 0 0-0 0 0 0
16/46 K 4 Greg Zuerlein 0.8 0.9 0 -0.1 0 0-0 0 0 0
628/886 ST 53 Daren Bates 0.5 0.5 0 0 0 0-0 1 0 0
172/886 ST 23 Rodney McLeod 0.5 0.5 0 0 0 0-0 1 0 0
299/886 LS 44 Jake McQuaide 0.5 0 0.5 0 0 0-0 1 0 0
103/886 ST 12 Stedman Bailey 0.4 0 0.4 0 0 0-0 0 0 0
628/886 ST 34 Chase Reynolds 0.4 -0.1 0.5 0 0 0-0 1 0 0
299/886 ST 11 Tavon Austin -0.2 -0.1 -0.1 0 0 0-0 0 0 0
103/886 ST 46 Cory Harkey -1 -1 0 0 0 0-0 0 0 0

Aaron Donald continues his impressive play. He was the Rams' highest graded player in the game against Seattle. In addition, Donald is the highest graded DT in the league through 6 games.

Greg Robinson - in his second start - was the highest graded Rams offensive lineman in Sunday's game. He'll doubtless remain a fixture at LG for the remainder of the season.

Alec Ogletree continues to struggle. Aside from earning the lowest grade of any Rams player on Sunday, he's now - after 6 games - the lowest graded OLB in the league.

C Scott Wells played his best game of the year against the Seahawks. He still remains the lowest graded Center in the NFL at this point in the season.

Joe Barksdale again earned a positive grade in the game versus Seattle, and is the 2nd highest graded RT in the NFL through 6 games.

The only head-scratcher in this weeks PFF gradings is the minus -1.6 earned by RB Tre Mason, which was the worst grade of any Rams offensive player in the game against the Seahawks. I don't necessarily believe it's an accurate evaluation of his performance in Sunday's game, although he was likely penalized heavily for the fumble near the end of the game.