Commentary

FBO: Number crunching, Week 1

Stats and trends for each game reveal importance of Ray Rice, Colts' LBs

Originally Published: September 9, 2010
By Aaron Schatz | Football Outsiders
Getty ImagesThe Cowboys' defense declined after halftime in 2009; they look to change course on Sunday night.

Each week, Football Outsiders takes a look at every game on the NFL schedule with a mix of interesting numbers and in-depth statistical analysis. Much of the analysis is based on DVOA, which takes every single play during the season and compares it to the league average based on situation and opponent. DVOA and Football Outsiders' other advanced stats are explained here. Because it is the first week of the regular season, the analysis below is based on 2009 numbers.

Thursday night kickoff game

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC)
Minnesota led all defenses by hurrying quarterbacks on 24 percent of pass plays last year, and while Drew Brees had an amazing 2009 season, he wasn't quite himself when he felt a lot of pressure: He averaged just 5.1 yards per pass when hurried last year (compared to 8.5 yards per pass overall). While he avoided turnovers against the Vikings in the playoffs and was sacked only once, he also under 200 passing yards -- which happened only three other times in 2009. Of course, the pass-pressure problem goes both ways. The Saints rushed six or more pass-rushers 23 percent of the time last season, the highest rate in the league, and Vikings QB Brett Favre averaged only 5.5 net yards per play against a big blitz of six or more (compared to 7.5 net yards per play the rest of the time).