Tedy Bruschi's defensive index

When judging total defense in the NFL, many often point to yards allowed as the primary measure for a unit’s effectiveness. ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi sees that as a flawed analysis.

Bruschi instead has put together his own formula, averaging what he views as the four key statistics: points allowed (only on defense, not including pick-sixes or special-teams scores), red zone defense (measured by percentage of touchdowns allowed versus total trips), third-down percentage and total turnovers (created solely by the defense, not including special teams).

What results, with an assist from Jason Vida of ESPN’s Stats & Information department, is the “Bruschi defensive index.” A few highlights of this week’s index include:

  • The Patriots slipped to the middle of the pack. Third-down defense could be their undoing if they don’t get it fixed in a hurry.

  • Holes show in the Denver defense if an opponent avoids the big play.

  • If not for creating turnovers, the Cowboys would be ranked lower.

  • The Bengals made a big jump this week after a strong performance against the Browns.

  • The Chiefs hold the top spot even after a loss to the Broncos.