The New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts have two of, if not the two best offenses in the league. They are putting up a lot of points, they are moving the ball at will, and they each have a quarterback that is on fire right now.
But who has the better unit?
I could go on and one from a matchup standpoint arguing the Patriots have the better offense, but I know that will bore you to death. So instead, I have broken this argument down from a pure numbers standpoint.
(I know, much more interesting).
1. Caliber of Defenses Faced
Through nine games, the New England Patriots have faced the 4th, 9th, 23rd, 7th, 30th, 6th, 8th, 26th, and 5th ranked defenses. Meanwhile the Colts have gone up against the 5th, 24th, 27th, 21st, 11th, 28th, 30th, 13th, and 32nd ranked defenses.
That averages out to New England facing off with a 13th ranked unit, while the Colts have only squared off with a defense ranked 21st. And despite playing an overall tougher slate of defenses, Tom Brady‘s group average only one point less a game than the Colts do. I’m not saying what Luck’s group has done isn’t impressive, but compared to what Brady has done against better competition, he falls to the king.
You can pile up as many yards as you want, but turnovers are where football games are won and lost. And the Pats simply don’t turn the football over, unlike the Colts, who give it away at will.
New England averages 0.3 interceptions a game, which ties them with the Cardinals for lowest in the league, while Indy averages one pick a game, which is good for 22nd in the NFL. In addition, the Colts lose 0.7 fumbles a game — 19th in the league, while the Pats only lose 0.3 fumbles a game — 4th in the league.
3. QB Hits
These two teams rank about the same in sacks allowed (Colts have the slight edge), but Andrew Luck takes a much bigger beating than Tom Brady does, which is why New England’s offensive line has the edge over Indy’s.
Luck has taken 57 quarterback hits through nine games (average of 6.3 a game), while Brady has only taken 44 (4.8 a game). That is almost two full less hits a game Brady takes, which gives him more opportunities to throw the ball down the field, and it also keeps his body a little more fresh than Luck’s.