The San Francisco 49ers have a 10-3 record despite ranking 31st in sacks allowed per pass, 31st in third-down conversion rate and 32nd in red zone touchdown percentage.
That No. 32 ranking in the red zone means the 49ers are looking up at the No. 31 St. Louis Rams, No. 30 Kansas City Chiefs, No. 29 Indianapolis Colts and No. 28 Cleveland Browns in that category. Those teams have combined for one more victory than the 49ers so far. They are 11-41 and have already fired one coach. They lag in most offensive categories.
The 49ers have quite a few things going for them. They rank third in time of possession, seventh in rushing yards per game and 12th in points. But to treat the team's struggles in the red zone as an outlier would ignore those No. 31 rankings in sacks allowed and on third down. It would excuse No. 26 rankings in yardage and first downs.
Overall improvement on offense will show up in the red zone as well.
Four of the top five teams in red zone percentage rank seventh or better in points. Three rank seventh or better in yards per game. Three rank first through third in passing yards per play. Three rank among the top five in fewest sacks allowed per pass. All have winning records: Green Bay (16-0), New England (10-3), the New York Jets (8-5) and Giants (7-6), and Tennessee (7-6).
The charts show where NFC West teams rank on offense and defense after Week 14.
On offense, the 49ers fell four spots in yards per pass play, six in Total QBR and two in points per game following their 21-19 defeat to Arizona. The Cardinals fell four spots in rushing yards while climbing five in passing yards. Seattle dropped five spots in red zone touchdown percentage during a 30-13 victory St. Louis. Sounds like it's time to break out a separate item looking at the Cardinals' defensive improvements.
The Seattle Seahawks improved two spots to No. 10 in points allowed per game. They ranked 25th in that category last season.
2011 NFC West Offensive Rankings: Week 14
The 49ers continue to lead the NFL in fewest points allowed, but they fell one spot to No. 2 in most takeaways.
The Arizona Cardinals climbed four spots in passing yards allowed per play, four in Total QBR allowed and three in sacks per pass attempt. They dropped six spots in takeaways, beating the 49ers despite losing the turnover battle. They climbed two more spots to No. 3 in third-down conversion rate allowed.
Since Week 9, the Cardinals have improved seven spots in yards allowed, eight in yards per pass attempt allowed, six in sacks per pass attempt, five in red zone touchdown percentage allowed, 10 in passer rating allowed, seven in QBR allowed, five in takeaways and five in points allowed.