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Packers' Run Offense Is Better Than Denver's

No way. How can the Packers, currently logging in with 65.7 yards per game vs. Denver with 130.7 yards per game, have a better run offense? Rob Demovsky certainly doesn't think the Packers run the ball better than Denver:

All they did in Shanahan's first two seasons, 1995 and 1996, was rush for 1,995 yards and 2,362 yards, respectively, and average 4.5 yards per carry in each season.

It only blossomed from there. The Broncos turned the zone scheme into the hallmark of their offense, rode it to a pair of Super Bowl titles and sustained the success.

It's a far cry from where the Packers are: last in the 32-team NFL in rushing yards per game and 30th in rushing average in Year 2 of their use of zone blocking.

As of today, NFL.com (not archived link) ranks the Packers 32nd and Denver 9th in run offense. However, Football Outsiders (not archived link) ranks the Packers 13th and Denver 17th. How can that be?

One big reason is "success points":

On first down, a play is considered a success if it gains 45 percent of needed yards; on second down, a play needs to gain 60 percent of needed yards; on third or fourth down, only gaining a new first down is considered success.

We then expand upon that basic idea with a more complicated system of "success points." A successful play is worth one point, an unsuccessful play zero points.

I don't have access to all of Football Outsiders game tracking stats, but if Denver ranks below the Packers then there are three things at work.

First, when Denver calls a running play, it is less likely to be a "success" then when the Packers call a running play. As I mentioned earlier, I don't have access to all of Football Outsiders game tracking stats, but maybe it could be summed up as the Packers are more likely to gain the tough yards than Denver. Denver also has 5 runs over 20+ yards vs. only 2 for the Packers which is probably padding their yards per carry and yards per game somewhat.

Second, there are two key stats that jump out in favor of the Packers. The Packers have scored 5 rushing TDs vs. only 3 for Denver. Also, the Packers have only lost 1 fumble on a running play, but Denver has lost 5.

Third, the Packers have played 6 games against a host of good to great run defenses while Denver has been playing against a lot of weaker run defenses. The worst run defense the Packers have played against is Philadelphia, which Football Outsiders has ranked at 16th, while the best is Minnesota, which FO has ranked 1st overall. The rest of the Packers opponents have been very good against the run according to FO (NY Giants 9th, San Diego 14th, Chicago 12th, and Washington 4th). The best run defense Denver has played against is Pittsburgh, currently ranked 3rd by FO, but Denver played poorly against them rushing 24 times for 90 yards (3.8 average) with no TDs. The next best run defense they've played is Indianapolis at 13th according to FO, with San Diego at 14th, Jacksonville at 21st, Buffalo at 25th, and Oakland dead last at 32nd.