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Rams-Seahawks: Key Stats Analysis - Week 17 & Season Wrap Up

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Throughout the 2014 season, I've kept 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've kept track of the score at half-time. Is there a correlation between these statistics and the Rams' win/loss record?

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams completed their season in a disappointing fashion, losing their last three games, and finishing with a 6-10 record. Each of the statistics I've been tracking this season clearly exhibit strong correlations with the Rams' win/loss record. An inefficient offense, penalties, turnovers, and big plays plagued the Rams all season, and all played critical roles in the Rams' 10 losses.

Throughout the 2014 season, I've been 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 Seattle, the Rams once again lost the turnover battle. The Rams gave the ball away 3 times, while only forcing a pair of takeaways. A minus -1 turnover differential for the game. Each of the Rams' turnovers occurred in the 4'th quarter, and each was costly. The first - an interception thrown by Shaun Hill - led to a Seahawks scoring drive and a 13-6 lead. The second interception was returned for a 49-yard touchdown by Bruce Irvin, giving the Seahawks a 20-6 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the game. Benny Cunningham's fumble inside the Seattle 5-yard line with 6 minutes left to play sealed the Rams' fate.

For the season, the Rams ranked tied for 19'th in the league in Turnover Differential (-2), a dramatic regression relative to last years results. The primary reason for the decline? Rams QB's accounted for 20 of the Rams' 27 giveaways this season.

Team Turnover Differential Statistics
Team Takeaways Giveaways Turnover Differential
1 Green Bay Packers 27 13 14
2 New England Patriots 25 13 12
3 Houston Texans 34 22 12
4 Seattle Seahawks 24 14 10
5 Arizona Cardinals 25 17 8
6 Detroit Lions 27 20 7
7 Buffalo Bills 30 23 7
8 San Francisco 49ers 29 22 7
9 Cleveland Browns 29 23 6
10 Dallas Cowboys 31 25 6
11 Denver Broncos 25 20 5
12 Atlanta Falcons 28 23 5
13 Carolina Panthers 26 23 3
14 Miami Dolphins 25 23 2
15 Baltimore Ravens 22 20 2
16 Pittsburgh Steelers 21 21 0
17 Cincinnati Bengals 26 26 0
18 Minnesota Vikings 19 20 -1
19 New York Giants 26 28 -2
20 St. Louis Rams 25 27 -2
21 Kansas City Chiefs 14 17 -3
22 Chicago Bears 24 29 -5
23 San Diego Chargers 18 23 -5
24 Indianapolis Colts 26 31 -5
25 Jacksonville Jaguars 20 26 -6
26 Philadelphia Eagles 28 36 -8
27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25 33 -8
28 Tennessee Titans 16 26 -10
29 New York Jets 13 24 -11
30 Washington Redskins 19 31 -12
31 New Orleans Saints 17 30 -13
32 Oakland Raiders 14 29 -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 6 penalties - totalling 45 yards - in the contest against Seattle. The Seahawks committed 2 penalties for 20 yards. For the Rams, the result was a negative Team Penalty Yards Differential of 25 yards.

In the 2014 16-game regular season, the Rams were the 3'rd most-penalized team in the NFL, averaging 7.7 penalties per game (the same average as 2013). The Rams led the league in most penalty yards (1139), and were 30'th in the league in Team Penalty Yards Differential (-257).

Team Penalty Yards Differential
Rank Team GP Pen Yds Opp. Pen Yds Pen Yds Diff Pen Yds Diff/Game
1 Arizona Cardinals 16 707 1,192 485 30.31
2 Jacksonville Jaguars 16 573 886 313 19.56
3 Miami Dolphins 16 635 920 285 17.81
4 New Orleans Saints 16 670 889 219 13.69
5 Green Bay Packers 16 775 945 170 10.63
6 Kansas City Chiefs 16 681 851 170 10.63
7 Baltimore Ravens 16 870 1,007 137 8.56
8 Minnesota Vikings 16 836 938 102 6.38
9 San Diego Chargers 16 967 1,067 100 6.25
10 Philadelphia Eagles 16 995 1,089 94 5.88
11 Cincinnati Bengals 16 812 876 64 4.00
12 New York Giants 16 896 948 52 3.25
13 Washington Redskins 16 1,130 1,164 34 2.13
14 Dallas Cowboys 16 839 861 22 1.38
15 Indianapolis Colts 16 848 866 18 1.13
16 Carolina Panthers 16 756 760 4 0.25
17 Oakland Raiders 16 939 941 2 0.13
18 Pittsburgh Steelers 16 834 835 1 0.06
19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16 939 935 -4 -0.25
20 Chicago Bears 16 997 978 -19 -1.19
21 San Francisco 49ers 16 937 909 -28 -1.75
22 Houston Texans 16 834 786 -48 -3.00
23 Atlanta Falcons 16 840 744 -96 -6.00
24 Detroit Lions 16 989 849 -140 -8.75
25 New York Jets 16 932 780 -152 -9.50
26 Cleveland Browns 16 932 769 -163 -10.19
27 Buffalo Bills 16 1,031 849 -182 -11.38
28 Denver Broncos 16 1,045 816 -229 -14.31
29 Tennessee Titans 16 961 731 -230 -14.38
30 St. Louis Rams 16 1,139 882 -257 -16.06
31 New England Patriots 16 1,080 752 -328 -20.50
32 Seattle Seahawks 16 1,009 613 -396 -24.75

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 1 rushing big play, and zero passing big plays, their worst result of the season. The Rams' defense gave up 8 big plays in total, resulting in a minus -7 Big Play Differential for the game. The Rams' offense proved to be quite inept in the game against the Seahawks, mustering only 245 yards and 6 points.

The Rams finished the regular season ranked 16'th in the NFL in Big Play Differential (minus -2).

Team Big Plays Statistics
Rank Team Plays Big Plays Rush Pass Big Play % BPA +/-
1 Seattle Seahawks 1,021 110 83 27 10.77% 44 66
3 Denver Broncos 1,067 94 51 43 8.81% 46 48
5 Baltimore Ravens 1,022 88 63 25 8.61% 62 26
4 San Francisco 49ers 1,009 88 62 26 8.72% 63 25
7 New York Jets 1,052 88 61 27 8.37% 64 24
2 Green Bay Packers 1,001 101 67 34 10.09% 78 23
28 Detroit Lions 1,045 65 37 28 6.22% 44 21
6 Dallas Cowboys 1,014 87 61 26 8.58% 70 17
8 Washington Redskins 1,006 84 49 35 8.35% 69 15
14 Houston Texans 1,062 80 54 26 7.53% 68 12
17 Carolina Panthers 1,060 77 56 21 7.26% 68 9
13 Cincinnati Bengals 1,019 77 57 20 7.56% 69 8
11 Philadelphia Eagles 1,127 86 54 32 7.63% 85 1
15 Miami Dolphins 1,040 76 54 22 7.31% 75 1
9 Pittsburgh Steelers 1,068 85 42 43 7.96% 86 -1
10 St. Louis Rams 957 75 47 28 7.84% 77 -2
12 Indianapolis Colts 1,105 84 41 43 7.6% 92 -8
23 Chicago Bears 1,005 66 40 26 6.57% 76 -10
18 Cleveland Browns 1,010 73 42 31 7.23% 85 -12
25 New England Patriots 1,073 68 41 27 6.34% 80 -12
30 Buffalo Bills 1,020 60 27 33 5.88% 72 -12
26 Minnesota Vikings 981 62 41 21 6.32% 76 -14
20 New Orleans Saints 1,095 76 47 29 6.94% 92 -16
24 Arizona Cardinals 993 64 32 32 6.45% 81 -17
16 Tennessee Titans 919 67 37 30 7.29% 85 -18
19 Jacksonville Jaguars 988 69 44 25 6.98% 88 -19
27 San Diego Chargers 1,009 63 35 28 6.24% 82 -19
22 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 936 63 34 29 6.73% 83 -20
31 Atlanta Falcons 1,035 59 34 25 5.7% 81 -22
21 Kansas City Chiefs 962 65 45 20 6.76% 90 -25
32 Oakland Raiders 994 51 29 22 5.13% 79 -28
29 New York Giants 1,086 67 35 32 6.17% 108 -41

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 11 drives in total, and scored 6 points on those drives (0.54 points per drive), a poor result for the Rams' offense. The Seahawks also had 11 drives in total, and scored 13 points on those drives (1.18 points per drive), an excellent result for the Rams' defense. The Rams' Points Per Drive Differential versus the Seahawks: Minus -0.64.

For the regular season, the Rams ranked 23'rd in the league in Points Per Drive Differential (- 0.20).

Team Points Per Drive Statistics
Team Points Per Drive Points Per Drive Against Point Differential
1 Green Bay Packers 2.88 1.99 0.89
2 New England Patriots 2.59 1.72 0.87
3 Seattle Seahawks 2.25 1.49 0.77
4 Dallas Cowboys 2.61 1.97 0.64
5 Denver Broncos 2.43 1.82 0.62
6 Baltimore Ravens 2.25 1.68 0.57
7 Kansas City Chiefs 2.04 1.58 0.46
8 Philadelphia Eagles 2.34 1.89 0.45
9 Pittsburgh Steelers 2.51 2.11 0.39
10 Indianapolis Colts 2.23 1.85 0.38
11 Houston Texans 1.92 1.54 0.37
12 Buffalo Bills 1.74 1.46 0.28
13 Detroit Lions 1.79 1.55 0.24
14 Arizona Cardinals 1.71 1.59 0.12
15 Miami Dolphins 2.14 2.07 0.07
16 San Diego Chargers 2 1.94 0.06
17 Cincinnati Bengals 1.91 1.87 0.04
18 Minnesota Vikings 1.85 1.92 -0.07
19 New York Giants 1.97 2.05 -0.08
20 Cleveland Browns 1.55 1.7 -0.15
21 New Orleans Saints 2.3 2.48 -0.17
22 Carolina Panthers 1.9 2.09 -0.18
23 St. Louis Rams 1.74 1.95 -0.20
24 San Francisco 49ers 1.72 1.94 -0.22
25 Atlanta Falcons 2.18 2.47 -0.29
26 New York Jets 1.52 2.19 -0.67
27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1.54 2.22 -0.68
28 Chicago Bears 1.77 2.5 -0.73
29 Washington Redskins 1.57 2.41 -0.84
30 Jacksonville Jaguars 1.28 2.13 -0.86
31 Tennessee Titans 1.33 2.29 -0.96
32 Oakland Raiders 1.28 2.29 -1.02

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, Seattle, Oakland, Washington, and Denver this season, they were leading at the half in all five contests. In the win against San Francisco, the Rams were tied 10-10 at half-time. In the last two seasons, the Rams have not won a game unless they were leading/tied at half-time.

In the game against Seattle, the Rams went into the locker room winning 6-0 at half-time. The Rams went on to lose the game 20-6. In 11 out of 16 games this season, the Rams either led or were tied at half-time.

The scoring by quarters for the entire season are quite revealing, and explain why the Rams could not win games with their play in the second half of games. The Rams played good football in the first quarter of many games, yet played poorly in the third quarter in most of their games. It's evident that opposing teams made better half-time adjustments than the Rams did.

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
9 Even Negative Positive Negative 10  10 Won 13-10
10 Negative Positive Negative Negative 14  10 Lost 31-14
11 Positive Positive Positive Positive 13  7 Won 22-7
12 Even Negative Negative Negative 10  6 Lost 27-24
13 Positive Positive Positive Positive 38  0 Won 52-0
14 Positive Positive Positive Negative 6  0 Won 24-0
15 Negative Negative Negative Negative 3  6 Lost 12-6
16 Negative Positive Negative Positive 13  20 Lost 37-27
17 Negative Negative Negative Negative 6  0 Lost 20-6

Look at all the positive results in the three wins between Week 11 and Week 14. Then look at the negative results in the losses to San Diego, Arizona, New York, and Seattle between Week 12 and Week 17. Therein lies the difference between winning and losing football games.

2014 Statistical Records

Points per Drive Differential: 6 games positive - Record 5-1. 10 games negative - Record 1-9.

Turnover Differential: 3 games positive - Record 3-0. 6 games negative - Record 0-6. 7 games even - Record 3-4. 4 games without a turnover - Record 4-0.

Big Play Differential: 6 games positive - Record 3-3. 10 games negative - Record 3-7.

Penalty Yards Differential: 4 games positive - Record 3-1. 12 games negative - Record 3-9.

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. The grades can be a valuable tool for analyzing individual player performance, especially when used in conjunction with other statistics. PFF provides - on their website - a detailed description of how players are graded.

NFL OFFENSE Play Counts Ratings
RANK Pos. # Name Total Run Pass Run Block Pass Block Overall Pass Rush Pass Block Screen Block Run Block Penalty
122/148 HB 27 Tre Mason * 28 11 15 1 1 0.7 1.2 -0.6 0.1 0 0 0
15/137 TE-L 89 Jared Cook 42 0 29 11 2 0 -0.4 0 0.1 0 0.2 0.1
53/148 HB 30 Zac Stacy 12 2 9 0 1 0 0.3 -0.4 0.1 0 0 0
37/137 FB 46 Cory Harkey * 21 0 9 12 0 -0.2 -0.1 0 0 0 -0.1 0
39/218 RWR 81 Kenny Britt * 58 0 38 20 0 -0.4 -0.5 0 0 0 0 0.1
179/218 LWR 13 Chris Givens 12 0 10 2 0 -0.4 -0.4 0 0 0 0 0
103/137 TE-R 88 Lance Kendricks * 38 0 20 15 3 -0.5 -0.6 0 0.2 0 -0.2 0.1
136/142 LT 79 Greg Robinson * 58 0 0 18 40 -0.7 -2.6 0 1.7 0.2
60/75 QB 14 Shaun Hill * 65 0 44 21 0 -1 -0.6 0 0 0 0 -0.4
110/148 HB 36 Benny Cunningham 23 4 13 2 4 -1.3 -0.8 -0.8 0.3 0 0 0
92/142 RT 72 Joe Barksdale * 61 0 0 20 41 -1.6 -0.5 0 -0.3 -0.8
143/146 RG 69 Davin Joseph * 65 0 0 21 44 -1.8 -0.7 0 -1.3 0.2
195/218 SRWR 11 Tavon Austin * 52 2 37 13 0 -1.9 -1.5 -0.5 0 0 0 0.1
26/218 SRWR 12 Stedman Bailey 39 0 29 10 0 -2.1 -1.2 0 0 0 0 -0.9
70/70 C 63 Scott Wells * 65 0 0 21 44 -2.2 -1.9 -0.5 0.1 0.1
85/146 LG 73 Mike Person 13 0 0 4 9 -2.6 -1.6 -0.5 -0.5 0
86/146 LG 76 Rodger Saffold * 63 0 0 21 42 -3.4 -0.3 -0.5 -0.8 -1.8

NFL DEFENSE Play Counts Ratings
RANK Pos. # Name Total Run Rush Cov. Overall Run Defense Pass Rush Pass Cov. Penalty
1/131 DLT 99 Aaron Donald * 44 19 25 0 4.7 0.4 4.2 0 0.1
66/131 DRT 90 Michael Brockers * 37 26 11 0 2.2 2.2 -0.1 0 0.1
47/131 DRT 98 Kendall Langford 29 21 8 0 1.5 1.3 0.1 0 0.1
98/230 LCB 47 Marcus Roberson 37 23 0 14 0.9 0.6 0 0.3 0
168/230 SCB 20 Lamarcus Joyner * 30 10 4 16 0.7 0.1 0.2 0.4 0
85/98 WLB 52 Alec Ogletree * 63 34 9 20 0.4 0.1 -0.2 0.4 0.1
64/180 FS 23 Rodney McLeod * 63 34 1 28 0.3 0.9 -0.1 -0.6 0.1
10/98 DRE 94 Robert Quinn * 41 25 16 0 -0.2 0 -0.3 0 0.1
142/230 LCB 22 Trumaine Johnson * 26 11 0 15 -0.5 0.1 0 -0.6 0
59/180 SS 26 Mark Barron 18 5 9 4 -0.5 0.1 -0.2 -0.4 0
109/125 MLB 55 James Laurinaitis * 63 34 5 24 -0.7 0.1 -0.4 -0.5 0.1
77/98 DRE 97 Eugene Sims 22 9 13 0 -0.7 -0.2 -1.1 0.5 0.1
13/98 DLE 95 William Hayes 22 12 10 0 -1.4 -0.7 -0.8 0 0.1
95/98 SLB 58 JoLonn Dunbar 29 21 3 5 -1.7 -1.6 -0.2 0.1 0
47/180 SS 25 T.J. McDonald * 63 34 1 28 -2.2 -1.1 -0.1 -1.1 0.1
113/230 RCB 21 Janoris Jenkins * 63 34 0 29 -3.5 -1.3 0 -2.3 0.1
86/98 DLE 91 Chris Long * 43 22 21 0 -4.9 -2.4 -1.7 0 -0.8

NFL SPECIAL TEAMS Ratings
RANK Pos. # Name Overall Kickoffs Punts FG/EP Penalty
1/37 P 6 Johnny Hekker 3.2 0 3.2 0 0
16/57 K 4 Greg Zuerlein 0.7 -0.1 0 0.8 0
819/1197 ST 31 Maurice Alexander 0.5 0.5 0 0 0
51/1197 ST 38 Cody Davis 0.5 0.5 0 0 0
145/1197 ST 46 Cory Harkey 0.5 0.5 0 0 0
145/1197 ST 59 Korey Toomer 0.5 0 0.5 0 0
947/1197 ST 36 Benny Cunningham 0.1 0.1 0 0 0
819/1197 ST 11 Tavon Austin 0 0 0 0 0
208/1197 ST 34 Chase Reynolds 0 0 0 0 0
664/1197 ST 42 Trey Watts 0 0.5 -0.5 0 0
88/1197 ST 54 Will Herring -1 -0.5 0.5 0 -1

The Rams' offense played poorly against the Seahawks, and it's reflected in the individual player grades. The defense and special teams played well enough to win the game.

DT Aaron Donald and P John Hekker finished the season as the highest-graded players at their positions in the entire NFL.

E.J. Gaines, Robert Quinn, William Hayes, and T.J. McDonald also deserve mention for their high quality play over the course of the season.

The overall regular season grades for the players on the offensive side of the football clearly reveal the deficiencies in QB and OL play. Jared Cook and Stedman Bailey deserve mention for their quality play this season. Cody Davis and Will Herring were the highest-graded special teams players for the Rams this season.

I'll be looking more deeply into the Rams' statistical results in the coming weeks.