Random stats: pass catchers and playoff odds

| November 20th, 2018

I’m not really writing during the season due to an extremely busy fall semester at work, but Thanksgiving break opened up a little time, so here are a few random statistical nuggets I dug up while I was poking around.

Pass Catchers

The Bears’ entire passing game has been built on five players: Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Trey Burton, and Tarik Cohen. Those 5 have combined for 82% of Trubisky’s targets, 85% of catches, 88% of yards, and 95% of passing TDs. Let’s take a quick look at how efficient each one is being.

A few thoughts:

  • The Bears’ two highest-usage players (Gabriel and Robinson) have been the least efficient of these 5 in terms of yards per target. This is likely due to the fact that they get the ball thrown to them even when they’re not wide open, which is not necessarily the case for the other players. All five are still producing above the team average in terms of yards per target.
  • I also find it interesting that Miller, Gabriel, and Robinson are all getting basically the same average target depth. It’s great that Bears have been able to use all three in similar ways without having to typecast each one to just one type of route.
  • Special tip of the cap to Anthony Miller, who was basically only being used underneath early in the season but has stepped up his game.
  • I didn’t put target stats on here, but usage has been very even overall between the 5. All getting between 4.5 and 7.3 targets/game (in games they’re active), and thus the volume stats are pretty similar too. All are on pace for between 570 and 770 yards, with the top 3 (Gabriel, Cohen, and Robinson) all on pace for between 730 and 770 yards.
  • I’m curious to see how Adam Shaheen impacts this down the stretch, should he be able to get and stay healthy. Will he be a major factor, and if he is, will he eat into one specific players’ targets or take a little bit from each of them?

Playoff Odds

In case you somehow missed it, the Bears are 7-3 and looking like a good bet for the playoffs. How good are their chances? Depends who you ask.

Nate Silver of 538 used Pro Football Reference to look at the historical odds of a team making the playoffs based on their current record. Based on that work, summarized in the nifty image below, a 7-3 team like the Bears has an 84% chance of making the playoffs.

A win against Detroit on Thursday would push that to 92%, while a loss drops it to 71%. No pressure, Mitchell Trubisky (or Chase Daniel?).

Those are general numbers that don’t take into account anything about how well a team is playing or how difficult their remaining schedule is. Football Outsiders uses their DVOA rankings to develop playoff odds based on that, and they really like the Bears.


Well that’s nice. 94% odds for Chicago to make the playoffs, with an 81% chance of winning the division and even a 17% chance of getting a 1st round bye (though I think that’s very unlikely given the Rams’ win over KC last night).

Football Outsiders also gives the Bears the 5th best odds of winning the Super Bowl at just over 6%. This is the third highest number in the NFC behind the Rams and Saints, which matches the 3rd seed that the Bears would be if the playoffs started right now.

There’s still six games left in the season and anything can happen, but right now things are looking pretty good for the Bears. It’s fun to have a good team to watch and root for every week instead of starting to shift our attention to what players might be available in the draft.