The 2011 NFL season is far enough along to make fuller statistical comparisons between this season and last.
The chart shows how NFC West teams have changed from last season in various offensive statistical categories. The ones marked with red text and underlines stood out to me when putting together the chart. A few thoughts:
If the 49ers were not winning, we could easily point out how they are averaging fewer yards per game this season while ranking 31st in passing yards per game, 24th in first downs per game, 27th in third-down percentage and 29th in sacks allowed per pass play. These would all be signs of a sickly offense that hasn't progressed sufficiently from the dark days of Mike Singletary. But because the 49ers have limited turnovers, improved their running game and played well enough on defense and special teams to go 5-1, all is well, right? The 49ers are averaging an additional 8.7 points per game. They are much smarter and more efficient on offense.
The Seattle Seahawks are averaging 35 fewer yards and 3.2 fewer points per game this season. They were not very good on offense last season. Their defense is healthier and better than it was through most of last season, and the offensive line should improve with better health. Robert Gallery looked much better at left guard following his return from groin surgery. Max Unger should be back at center soon. The drop in yards per game is the sixth-largest for an NFL team. Their drop in yards per play (.5) is the fourth-largest from last season.
The Cardinals are averaging an additional 69.2 yards per game, the fifth-largest jump from last season behind Carolina (158.2), New England (110.7), New Orleans (94.6) and Buffalo (73.6). Their field goal percentage is down 31.8 points from last season, by far the largest drop for any team in the league. Percentages are up overall. Interceptions per pass play are up slightly. No team in the league has improved its punt-return average as much as Arizona, a reflection of Patrick Peterson's addition.
The St. Louis Rams are scoring 8.8 fewer points per game, the third-largest drop from last season behind Indianapolis (11.3) and Jacksonville (10.1). The team's touchdown percentage in goal-to-go situations has plummeted. Sam Bradford has completed only 1 of 10 passes in goal-to-go situations. Only teammate A.J. Feeley (0-of-3) and Miami's Matt Moore (also 0-of-3) have completed a lower percentage this season. By comparison, Buffalo's Ryan Fitzpatrick has completed 7 of 10 such passes with seven touchdowns and no interceptions. Tom Brady has nine touchdowns and no interceptions on these throws. Bradford has one touchdown and one pick.
On to the chart ...