Stat Pack: How Denver 'D' dominates

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Pro Football Focus

Pro Football Focus uses a complex system to analyze every NFL player involved in every snap in every game and assigns a grade based on how he performed on that play, with each position having its own set of grading guidelines. Plus/minus scores are given in 0.5 increments and a small normalization factor is applied to make 0.0 the average grade for a game or season. To learn more, visit

Two of the NFL’s top defenses will be on display Sunday night when the Packers visit the Broncos in a clash of unbeatens. Although Green Bay’s defense has fared much better than expected this season, it’s not in the same class as Denver’s.

The Broncos’ defensive players have earned an outstanding +85.4 cumulative overall grade, far and away the best in the league (the Rams’ defense ranks second at +68.0). Denver’s fearsome pass rush, which has chalked up an NFL-best 26 sacks, gets a +45.0 grade. The Broncos’ pass coverage receives a +23.8 grade and their run defense grades out at + 25.7.  By comparison, the Packers’ cumulative overall defensive grade of +30.8 ranks eighth in the NFL.

The Broncos rely heavily on their base package (3-4-4), using it 53% of the time and particularly on early downs.  In obvious passing situations, Denver turns to its “dime” sub-package (six defensive backs) – using it 100% of the time on 3rd & Long plays, 90% on 3rd & Medium and 38% over all down and distance situations.

The Packers use six defensive backs much less frequently: 84% of the time on 3rd & Long plays and only 40% on 3rd & Medium. Green Bay instead prefers its “nickel” package (five defensive backs), using it on 59% of all defensive plays. The Packers only go with their base package (3-4-4) 15% of the time and usually just on early downs and short-yardage situations.

Broncos defensive back Darian Stewart (26) celebrates with Danny Trevathan (59) and Aqib Talib (21) after making a game-ending interception in the fourth quarter against the Ravens.
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