You don't need to be a pigskin "pundit" to realize mighty midget Bob Sanders is an impact player.
It's fairly evident every time the 5-8, 205-pound defensive back steps on the field, as it was last night in Indy's league-wide warning siren of a 41-10 win over New Orleans, a team alleged by many "pundits" to be an NFC front-runner.
Sanders was all over the field, generally making a nuisance of himself on nearly every defensive play. He deflected one pass, and finished second on the team with nine total tackles.
The human missile's only problem in his career has been his general inability to stay on the field. As has been well documented, Sanders has missed 24 games in his brief, three-year career – or nearly half of all the games the Colts have played (including postseason) over that period.
So we wondered: what is the "Bob Sanders Factor" for Indy and, more specifically, for the Indy defense? Well, it's pretty substantial.
Over the past two seasons:
- The Colts are 21-3 (.875) when Sanders plays.
- The Colts are 10-4 (.714) when Sanders does not play.
Sanders, of course, does not play offense. But we wanted to make sure there wasn't, for whatever reason, some radical difference in Indy's offensive production in these games.
The Colts offense averaged 25.58 PPG when Sanders was in the defensive lineup, and a substantially similar 24.57 PPG when he was not in the lineup. So, that's pretty much a wash. Offensive output does not explain this difference in records.
Which leaves us with Sanders and his defensive mates. And there, we find a pretty radical difference. Over the past two seasons:
- The Colts defense surrenders 16.12 PPG when Sanders plays.
- The Colts defense surrenders 22.57 PPG when Sanders does not play.
That's a whopping 40 percent difference in the points Indy allows with Sanders in the lineup and without.
And that, our fine-feathered friends, is the Bob Sanders Factor.