Week 7: Steelers vs. Cardinals Statistical Preview

Time for a preview of today’s game in Arizona using all the advanced statistics I can find. First, here’s a recap of last week’s win over Jacksonville. There are two links below: the Advanced NFL Stats win probability graph/box score and QuantCoach’s coaching stats for the week.

Steelers 17, Jaguars 13
Coaching Stats

Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers with 0.32 Win Probability Added, Lamaar Woodley was second with 0.22, and Brett Keisel was third with 0.13. Woodley led with 6.0 Expected Points Added, with Mike Wallace (5.3) second and Rashard Mendenhall (4.5) third. Daryl Smith led the Jaguars in WPA with 0.12, and Paul Posluszny led in EPA with 4.7.

The gap in coaching was a lot more than the gap in score. The statistic representing how well the Steelers offense coached vs. the Jaguars defense ranked 8th, but the statistics representing how well the Steelers defense coached vs. the Jaguars offense was by far the best of the week. The Steelers dominated the game, it just didn’t show up in the final score because of the “prevent offense” the Steelers seemed to run.

Follow the jump for all the advanced stats and today’s preview!

Steelers at Cardinals

Football Outsiders


Total DVOA


Weighted DVOA






Special Teams
























As a reminder, DVOA represents the value on a play-by-play basis above what an average NFL team would provide. So, the Steelers have been 15.6% better than an average NFL team this year. Weighted DVOA includes Football Outsiders’ preseason projection, so not surprisingly, the Steelers have done worse than expected so far.

For the second straight week, the Steelers face the 31st-ranked team in DVOA. Is this a sign of things come for this week? Probably not, it’s just a coincidence. The Arizona Cardinals have been almost universally terrible so far this year. The only positive for them has been running the ball, where they are ranked 8th in DVOA. This also happens to be where the Steelers have been surprisingly weak, ranked 28th in run defense. Watch for the Cardinals running game today. If they can get anything going, this game will be a lot closer than you think.

QuantCoach’s Coaching Stats

The link above goes to the season standings of QuantCoach’s coaching stats (combining offense and defense), which I explained a couple weeks ago. The Steelers are still the best-coached team in the NFL, and it actually went up, again, likely due to the outstanding defensive coaching last week. The Cardinals rank 11th in the NFC.

Advanced NFL Stats

The link goes to Advanced NFL Stats’ team rankings for Week 7. The Steelers are ranked third, and the Cardinals are ranked 27th. The Steelers are 11th in passing, ninth in rushing, first in pass defense, and 25th in run defense. The Cardinals are 18th in passing, third in rushing, 21st in pass defense, and 15th in rush defense. Interestingly, the Cardinals have the third-worst penalty rate in the NFL. When compared to the Jaguars, who have the best penalty rate in the NFL, you can see why this week’s game might be more comfortable for the Steelers.

Prediction? All right, you saw how well that went last week.

Once again, the Steelers have a clear advantage over their opponent in most phases of the game. As I said above, that Cardinals run game will be the matchup to watch. I expect the Steelers to focus on the run this week, knowing that Ike Taylor will keep Larry Fitzgerald in check, and force Kevin Kolb to throw to some other receiver, and likely finally creating those turnovers that the Steelers have rarely forced this year. The difference in penalty rate between the Cardinals and Jaguars is staggering, and I think the likelihood that the Cardinals beat themselves makes me even more sure that this will be at least close to a rout. Meaning, of course, that this will be even more of a nail-biter than last week. Still, I’m sticking to my guns. Steelers 31, Cardinals 13