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Rams-Chiefs: Key Stats Analysis - Week 8

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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?

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

For the second consecutive week, special teams played a critical role for the Rams. Against Seattle, special teams play allowed the Rams to pull off the upset. This week, the tables were turned on them by the Kansas City Chiefs. After a William Hayes fumble recovery at the Kansas City 8-yard line - in a 7-7 game midway through the second quarter - the Rams quickly went three-and-out. Greg Zuerlein missed the subsequent chip shot 38-yard field goal try, and the Chiefs marched down the field for a field goal of its own. A six-point swing.

To open the third quarter, Knile Davis returned the kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, giving the Chiefs a 17-7 lead. The Rams never recovered, going on to lose 34-7.

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.

In the game against Kansas City, the Rams had an even Turnover Differential. The Rams' Turnover Differential has been zero/even in each of their last 4 games. Austin Davis threw an interception mid-way through the first quarter, a giveaway causing little impact on the outcome of the game. William Hayes' fumble recovery on the Chiefs' 8-yard line should have resulted in points for the Rams. They couldn't move the ball forward, and Greg Zuerlein missed on a 38-yard field goal attempt.

The Rams are currently tied for 24'th in the league in Turnover Differential (minus -3).

Team Turnover Differential Statistics
Team Takeaways Giveaways Turnover Differential
1 New England Patriots 16 5 11
2 Arizona Cardinals 14 5 9
3 Green Bay Packers 15 7 8
4 Buffalo Bills 18 11 7
5 Cleveland Browns 11 5 6
6 San Francisco 49ers 11 7 4
7 Denver Broncos 8 4 4
8 Houston Texans 17 13 4
9 Cincinnati Bengals 12 8 4
10 San Diego Chargers 9 5 4
11 Carolina Panthers 14 10 4
12 Miami Dolphins 14 12 2
13 Pittsburgh Steelers 11 10 1
14 Detroit Lions 12 11 1
15 Seattle Seahawks 7 6 1
16 Tennessee Titans 11 11 0
17 Baltimore Ravens 12 12 0
18 New York Giants 13 13 0
19 Indianapolis Colts 14 15 -1
20 Atlanta Falcons 13 14 -1
21 Minnesota Vikings 11 12 -1
22 Dallas Cowboys 12 13 -1
23 Kansas City Chiefs 5 7 -2
24 St. Louis Rams 8 11 -3
25 Chicago Bears 12 15 -3
26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10 14 -4
27 New Orleans Saints 7 13 -6
28 Oakland Raiders 6 13 -7
29 Philadelphia Eagles 10 17 -7
30 Washington Redskins 6 15 -9
31 Jacksonville Jaguars 8 18 -10
32 New York Jets 3 18 -15

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 68 yards - in the game against Kansas City. In turn the Chiefs committed 7 penalties for 51 yards. For the Rams, the result was a negative Team Penalty Yards Differential of 17 yards.

After 7 games, the Rams are tied for 10'th most-penalized team in the NFL, averaging 7.7 penalties per game. The Rams are 7'th in the league in most penalty yards (513), and are worst in the league in Team Penalty Yards Differential (-209). In an interesting twist, the Rams rank 2'nd in the NFL in fewest Opponent Penalty Yards (304). 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 Jacksonville Jaguars 8 277 451 174 10.88
2 New Orleans Saints 7 335 488 153 9.56
3 Chicago Bears 8 425 578 153 9.56
4 Baltimore Ravens 8 365 515 150 9.38
5 Philadelphia Eagles 7 447 588 141 8.81
6 Arizona Cardinals 7 391 530 139 8.69
7 New York Giants 7 322 436 114 7.13
8 Kansas City Chiefs 7 298 403 105 6.56
9 Cincinnati Bengals 7 366 466 100 6.25
10 Minnesota Vikings 8 462 534 72 4.50
11 Green Bay Packers 8 386 458 72 4.50
12 San Diego Chargers 8 463 534 71 4.44
13 Dallas Cowboys 7 310 380 70 4.38
14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7 413 474 61 3.81
15 Oakland Raiders 7 379 417 38 2.38
16 Miami Dolphins 7 307 339 32 2.00
17 Carolina Panthers 8 444 448 4 0.25
18 Detroit Lions 8 449 439 -10 -0.63
19 Washington Redskins 7 530 519 -11 -0.69
20 Cleveland Browns 7 393 356 -37 -2.31
21 Houston Texans 8 416 372 -44 -2.75
22 Atlanta Falcons 8 500 451 -49 -3.06
23 Indianapolis Colts 8 483 424 -59 -3.69
24 New York Jets 8 560 472 -88 -5.50
25 San Francisco 49ers 7 478 378 -100 -6.25
26 Buffalo Bills 8 576 459 -117 -7.31
27 Seattle Seahawks 7 431 261 -170 -10.63
28 Pittsburgh Steelers 8 576 402 -174 -10.88
29 Denver Broncos 7 482 304 -178 -11.13
30 Tennessee Titans 8 580 382 -198 -12.38
31 New England Patriots 8 628 423 -205 -12.81
32 St. Louis Rams 7 513 304 -209 -13.06

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 Kansas City, the Rams' offense produced 3 rushing big plays, and just 1 passing big play. The Rams' defense gave up 6 big plays in total, a minus -2 Big Play Differential for the game. A 30-yard completion to Jamaal Charles - to the Rams' 14-yard line in the 3'rd quarter - resulted in a Chiefs field goal. Early in the 4'th quarter, a 36-yard touchdown run by Charles gave the Chiefs a 27-7 lead.

The Rams currently rank 26'th in the league in Big Play Differential (-10).

Team Big Plays Statistics
Rank Team Plays Big Plays Rush Pass Big Play % BPA +/-
7 Denver Broncos 450 39 20 19 8.67% 20 19
12 San Francisco 49ers 461 37 23 14 8.03% 20 17
2 Washington Redskins 440 41 22 19 9.32% 26 15
5 Seattle Seahawks 419 37 27 10 8.83% 22 15
1 Dallas Cowboys 461 44 35 9 9.54% 32 12
3 Baltimore Ravens 519 47 32 15 9.06% 36 11
15 Miami Dolphins 458 35 26 9 7.64% 26 9
30 Detroit Lions 531 31 14 17 5.84% 22 9
10 Chicago Bears 507 41 26 15 8.09% 33 8
14 Minnesota Vikings 509 39 27 12 7.66% 31 8
25 New York Jets 547 35 27 8 6.4% 31 4
8 Philadelphia Eagles 498 42 26 16 8.43% 40 2
4 Cleveland Browns 449 40 25 15 8.91% 39 1
11 New Orleans Saints 484 39 28 11 8.06% 38 1
22 Arizona Cardinals 445 31 17 14 6.97% 31 0
29 Buffalo Bills 503 31 13 18 6.16% 31 0
13 Indianapolis Colts 595 47 26 21 7.9% 49 -2
6 Pittsburgh Steelers 549 48 24 24 8.74% 51 -3
16 Houston Texans 497 37 26 11 7.44% 40 -3
24 San Diego Chargers 506 35 17 18 6.92% 38 -3
9 Green Bay Packers 473 39 27 12 8.25% 44 -5
17 Tennessee Titans 460 34 22 12 7.39% 40 -6
19 Kansas City Chiefs 452 32 24 8 7.08% 38 -6
21 Jacksonville Jaguars 502 35 22 13 6.97% 41 -6
28 New England Patriots 531 33 19 14 6.21% 41 -8
20 St. Louis Rams 441 31 18 13 7.03% 41 -10
23 Cincinnati Bengals 431 30 16 14 6.96% 40 -10
31 Oakland Raiders 411 23 13 10 5.6% 34 -11
26 Atlanta Falcons 504 32 20 12 6.35% 44 -12
18 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 405 29 16 13 7.16% 43 -14
27 New York Giants 458 29 19 10 6.33% 44 -15
32 Carolina Panthers 513 26 16 10 5.07% 43 -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 12 drives in total, and scored 7 points on those drives (0.58 points per drive), their worst showing of the season. The Chiefs had 11 drives in total, and scored 34 points on those drives (3.09 points per drive). The Rams' Points Per Drive Differential versus the Chiefs: Minus -2.51.

After 7 games, the Rams rank last in the league in Points Per Drive Differential (-1.13).

Team Points Per Drive Statistics
Team Points Per Drive Points Per Drive Against Point Differential
1 Denver Broncos 2.67 1.67 1
2 Baltimore Ravens 2.49 1.52 0.97
3 New England Patriots 2.64 1.92 0.72
4 San Diego Chargers 2.44 1.73 0.71
5 Kansas City Chiefs 2.38 1.68 0.69
6 Philadelphia Eagles 2.28 1.61 0.67
7 Dallas Cowboys 2.61 1.96 0.65
8 Indianapolis Colts 2.5 1.95 0.55
9 Detroit Lions 1.78 1.35 0.43
10 Green Bay Packers 2.64 2.22 0.42
11 Arizona Cardinals 2.02 1.65 0.37
12 Seattle Seahawks 2.29 2 0.29
13 Miami Dolphins 2.1 1.82 0.28
14 Houston Texans 1.95 1.69 0.25
15 Cleveland Browns 1.99 1.75 0.24
16 Buffalo Bills 1.71 1.62 0.09
17 New Orleans Saints 2.69 2.61 0.08
18 Pittsburgh Steelers 2.3 2.23 0.08
19 San Francisco 49ers 2.11 2.2 -0.09
20 Cincinnati Bengals 1.92 2.02 -0.11
21 New York Giants 1.9 2.01 -0.11
22 Atlanta Falcons 2.13 2.51 -0.38
23 Minnesota Vikings 1.46 1.86 -0.4
24 Carolina Panthers 1.96 2.42 -0.45
25 Washington Redskins 1.74 2.29 -0.55
26 Chicago Bears 2.05 2.61 -0.57
27 Tennessee Titans 1.47 2.13 -0.65
28 New York Jets 1.48 2.35 -0.87
29 Oakland Raiders 1.35 2.35 -1
30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1.68 2.75 -1.07
31 Jacksonville Jaguars 1.18 2.29 -1.11
32 St. Louis Rams 1.74 2.88 -1.13

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 Rams' wins against Tampa Bay and Seattle this season, they were leading at the half in both contests.

Against Kansas City, the Rams went into the half losing 10-7. The Chiefs pulled away in the second half, scoring 24 unanswered points (34 including the first half).

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
7 Even Negative Negative Positive 21  6 Won 28-26
8 Even Negative Negative Negative 7  10 Lost 34-7

Pro Football Focus Grades

As an added feature, OakCityRam is generously 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 conjunction 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
18/19 TE-L 46 Cory Harkey * 15 0 4 10 1 0.7 -0.1 0 0.1 0 0.7 0
41/68 HB 36 Benny Cunningham * 17 4 10 1 2 0.6 0.3 0.7 -0.4 0 0 0
Not Rated C 67 Barrett Jones 23 0 0 4 19 0.6 0.5 0 0.1 0
38/63 TE-R 88 Lance Kendricks * 29 0 15 12 2 0.5 0 0 0.1 0 0.3 0.1
51/112 LWR 81 Kenny Britt * 43 0 30 13 0 0.4 0.3 0 0 0 0 0.1
Not Rated LWR 12 Stedman Bailey 22 0 15 7 0 -0.1 -0.1 0 0 0 0 0
Not Rated LG 73 Mike Person 23 0 0 4 19 -0.1 -0.2 0 0 0.1
40/40 C 63 Scott Wells * 30 0 0 15 15 -0.2 0.4 0 -0.6 0
57/112 RWR 83 Brian Quick * 11 0 5 6 0 -0.2 -0.2 0 0 0 0 0
64/78 RG 69 Davin Joseph 38 0 0 11 27 -0.2 1.1 0 -1.4 0.1
Not Rated HB 27 Tre Mason 19 7 9 1 2 -0.5 -0.2 0.1 -0.4 0 0 0
Not Rated LWR 13 Chris Givens 22 0 15 7 0 -0.6 -0.6 0 0 0 0 0
42/72 LT 77 Jake Long * 31 0 0 15 16 -0.7 -0.5 0 -0.3 0.1
26/58 HB 30 Zac Stacy 16 5 11 0 0 -0.7 -0.7 0 0 0 0 0
11/63 TE-L 89 Jared Cook 38 0 24 12 2 -0.8 -0.8 0 0.1 0 -0.2 0.1
94/112 SRWR 11 Tavon Austin 32 2 22 8 0 -0.8 -0.9 0 0 0 0 0.1
27/78 RG 76 Rodger Saffold * 15 0 0 8 7 -1.6 -0.7 0 -0.9 0
30/78 LG 79 Greg Robinson * 53 0 0 19 34 -2.3 -2.1 0 -0.3 0.1
4/72 RT 72 Joe Barksdale * 53 0 0 19 34 -3.5 -2.9 0 -0.8 0.2
28/35 QB 9 Austin Davis * 53 0 34 19 0 -3.8 -2.8 -0.1 0 0 0 -0.9

PFF DEFENSE Play Counts Ratings
NFL Rank Pos. # Name Total Run Rush Cov. Overall Run Defense Pass Rush Pass Cov. Penalty
12/53 DLE 95 William Hayes * 52 25 26 1 2.5 2.5 -0.2 0 0.2
27/53 DRE 94 Robert Quinn * 51 22 28 1 2 0.1 1.7 0 0.2
45/77 DLT 98 Kendall Langford 28 18 9 1 1.5 0.9 0.5 0 0.1
2/77 DLT 99 Aaron Donald * 42 16 26 0 0.7 1.5 0.1 0 -0.9
Not Rated FS 23 Rodney McLeod * 52 19 1 32 0.7 0.2 -0.1 0.5 0.1
80/83 SS 25 T.J. McDonald * 69 33 0 36 0.6 -0.1 0 0.6 0.1
Not Rated RCB 47 Marcus Roberson * 68 32 0 36 0.2 -0.3 0 0.4 0.1
Not Rated FS 38 Cody Davis 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
61/107 SCB 20 Lamarcus Joyner 37 17 1 19 0 1.1 -0.1 -1 0
55/77 DRT 90 Michael Brockers * 42 22 20 0 -0.1 0.8 -1 0 0.1
Not Rated DRT 92 Alex Carrington 21 11 9 1 -0.3 0.1 -0.5 0 0.1
Not Rated SLB 53 Daren Bates 5 5 0 0 -0.4 -0.4 0 0 0
34/34 WLB 52 Alec Ogletree * 65 29 10 26 -0.6 1.1 0.2 0 -1.9
33/57 DRE 97 Eugene Sims 37 19 18 0 -1.3 -0.4 -1 0 0.1
41/58 MLB 55 James Laurinaitis * 69 33 8 28 -1.4 -1.9 0.8 -0.4 0.1
27/34 SLB 58 JoLonn Dunbar * 50 27 6 17 -1.6 -0.5 -0.5 -0.7 0.1
22/107 LCB 33 E.J. Gaines * 68 32 1 35 -1.9 0.2 -0.1 -2.1 0.1

PFF Special Teams Ratings
NFL Rank Pos. # Name Overall Kickoffs Punts FG/EP Penalty
670/933 ST 38 Cody Davis 0.5 0.5 0 0 0
191/933 ST 51 Marshall McFadden 0.5 0 0.5 0 0
191/933 ST 73 Mike Person 0.5 0.5 0 0 0
317/933 ST 36 Benny Cunningham 0.3 0.3 0 0 0
317/933 ST 11 Tavon Austin 0.2 -0.1 0.3 0 0
75/933 ST 46 Cory Harkey 0 0 0 0 0
5/34 P 6 Johnny Hekker 0 0 0 0 0
317/933 LS 44 Jake McQuaide 0 0 0 0 0
670/933 ST 34 Chase Reynolds 0 0 0 0 0
764/933 ST 53 Daren Bates -0.5 -0.5 0 0 0
317/933 ST 54 Will Herring -0.5 0 -0.5 0 0
Not Rated ST 35 Jemea Thomas -1 0 0 0 -1
27/46 K 4 Greg Zuerlein -2 -0.9 0 -1.1 0

The sea of red pretty much sums up the individual performances for the Rams in their game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Most notable is the performance (or lack thereof) of the Rams' offense as a whole.

The defensive linemen earned the highest grades for the Rams in this game. In contrast, the linebackers continue to struggle, and remain one of the lowest graded defensive units in the NFL.

With Jake Long and Brian Quick lost to season-ending injuries - and many others banged-up - the Rams' depth will be tested to the max in the coming weeks.