Friday, December 7, 2007

Seeing Red

You might be surprised to find out that two of the top teams in the red zone are squaring off at Qwest this Sunday (I know I was).

That's right. The Cardinals rank an impressive 3rd in the NFL in offensive red zone efficiency, scoring a touchdown on nearly 69% of their trips inside the 20.

They will be facing a red zone defense allowing opponents to only score TDs on 46% of their red zone trips, good for 7th in the NFL.

On the flip side, the Hawks 9th-ranked red zone offense is scoring TDs on 56% of their trips inside the 20.

They will be matched against a Cardinals defense that is ranked 8th in the NFL, allowing opponents to score TDs on 47% of their red zone possessions.

I was surprised to see the Hawks have risen to such heights in red zone offense. They were really struggling early in the season. That led me to look back at red zone stats, and I was shocked by what I found:

Hawks Red Zone Offense Since Week 3 (last game against Cards): 60%
Since Week 6: 70%

Considering the Hawks started off at a 37% clip, that's an outstanding turnaround.

They haven't exactly been stinking it up on defense either.

Hawks Red Zone Defense Since Week 9: 2 TDs allowed in 9 opponent trips (22%)
Since Week 11: 1 for 6 (17%)
Last two weeks: 0 for 3

Not bad. We've got a highly functioning red zone offense and defense right now. That might be one of the best indicators of how well the Hawks are playing.

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