On Thursday we covered Tim Tebow's stats through Week 13; today let's examine the full team's numbers and how they match up with the Bears. Of course, Chicago's offense will be without Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, who have been responsible for 82.1% of the Bears' net offensive yardage but just 57% of their touchdowns. Chicago has also scored a combined six touchdowns on interceptions and Devin Hester's punt and kick returns. Marion Barber (five rushing scores) and Cutler's backup Caleb Hanie (two TD passes) round out their scoring. The absence of Cutler and Forte is sure to loom large tomorrow, but keep in mind that the following numbers were achieved largely on their broad shoulders.
As always, an explanation of the figures:
- NY/A Differential: This is a marriage of PFR's NY/A (Net Yards per Attempt) and CHFF's Passer Rating Differential. NY/A takes the all-important Yards Per Attempt and adds sack data into the mix to provide a clearer picture of a passing game's impact. NY/A Differential is simply a team's NY/A minus the NY/A they've allowed on defense. In other words, how well Denver passes the ball minus how well they defend against the pass.
- ARY/A Differential: This is a team's efficiency rushing the football minus the efficiency of their defense in stopping the run, and it factors touchdowns in to provide a better measure than a simple Yards Per Attempt stat. Well, for now - we'll likely change this next week, as mentioned above.
- TO Differential: Takeaways minus giveaways. If you need help with this one, you must be a Raiders fan and probably refer to this as a ratio.
- Net Field Position: This is a team's average starting field position in terms of yards, minus the average starting field position they allow their opponents.
- Strength of Schedule: This is each team's strength of schedule as viewed through the prism of PFR's SRS (Simple Rating System).
Even if Cutler and Forte were playing, this matchup looks pretty even, right? Granted, Chicago would have a significant advantage in the most important category of all (passing), but Denver's been better at defending the run and holds an edge in terms of field position. Chicago has forced an impressive 18 fair catches on 30 punts, and they've allowed no returns longer than 17 yards - so don't expect Quan Cosby to play a big role in tomorrow's game.
The Bears' biggest advantage is in terms of turnovers, as their defense has taken the ball away a whopping 25 times, or 1.9 takeaways per game. Only the Jets (2.0) and Lions (2.1) had forced as many takeaways per game prior to facing Denver.
Basically, this is what it comes down to - as long as Denver doesn't get into a turnover fest or let Devin Hester take over the game like they did four years ago, they should come away with the victory. And again, we might have been saying the same exact thing even had Cutler and Forte been playing. In other words, Denver should win this game, and I'll again be picking them to do so.