Quick Reactions to Sunday's Games

It was a tale of two time slots on Sunday. The early games averaged a very boring 2.3 Excitement Index (EI), while the late games including the night game averaged a riveting 5.8 EI.

NYJ 27 BUF 11

The Jets took control of this game in the 3rd quarter. Sanchez (-0.09 WPA/6.9 EPA/59% SR/6.1 AYPA) didn’t need to have a great day, because the NYJ defense handed Fitzpatrick his worst game of the season. Burress stepped up big (0.23 WPA/6.7 EPA/100% SR/5 tgts).

SEA 13 DAL 23

SEA hung tough until just past halftime. Romo had a good day (0.27 WPA/8.6 EPA/55% SR/9.0 AYPA) with no turnovers and no sacks. DAL handily won the battle of the trenches (0.19 –WPA, 2.5 –EPA) against SEA (0.04 –WPA, -0.7 –EPA). The two plays that turned the game were the 33 yard TD pass to Witten and the Hatcher interception.

CLE 12 HOU 30

Both QBs had AYPAs of 3.2, but Shaub had the better go if it (0.13 WPA/-3.2 EPA/46%) than McCoy (-0.10 WPA, -4.3 EPA/45% SR). HOU’s running game dominated on the backs of Foster (0.10 WPA/3.9 EPa/56%SR/6.5 YPC) and Tate (0.15 WPa/6.5 EPA/59% SR/9.6 YPC). Overall HOU had a 67% run SR, compared to only 19% for CLE. This game was over early.

ATL 31 IND 7

IND hits another low point. They never had a chance in this one. Ryan picked apart the IND defense with 9.0 AYPA. Curtis Lofton stole the show for the ATL defense (0.18 +WPA/6.2 +EPA/2.14 TF/8 SC).

MIA 31 KC 3

This one of the bigger upsets of the day, at least in terms of score difference. MIA’s offense came alive. Both Moore and Bush had strong games. KC was able to run the ball successfully, but Cassel was sacked 5 times. Neither team had a turnover. It’s a little puzzling because KC had 20 1st downs compared to MIA’s 17. MIA won with bigger plays and success in very high-leverage plays. The game was won early in the 2nd qtr. A MIA defensive stand featuring 2 sacks (actually 1 sack and a Cassel scramble for 1 yd on 3rd and long), followed by 2 quick deep passes by Moore gave MIA a 14-3 lead with 9:55 left in the 1st half.

TB 16 NO 27

Freeman had a solid game (0.05 WPA/8.3 EPA/46% SR/4.7 AYPA), but not when it counted most. Brees didn’t have big conventional numbers (5.9 AYPA), but his advanced numbers were strong (0.39 WPA/15.9 EPA/68% SR). Graham continues his tear through the NFC. Blount returned for TB made some good runs (72 yds on 13 att for 5.5 YPC), but he couldn’t be consistent—35% SR.

SF 19 WAS 11

This was the last snoozer of the day. The WAS offense continues to be awful. Beck’s line was (-0.32 WPA/ -9.0 EPA/42% SR/4.3 AYPA), and the WAS’s run SR was a horrible 18%. The game was not won on the backs of Alex Smith (-1.4 EPA) or Gore (-3.5 EPA). It was strictly determined by the WAS offense-SF defense match-up. Willis led the charge for the SF defense with (0.15 +WPA/8.8 +EPA/2.19 TF/8 SC).

DEN 38 OAK 24

Tebow (-0.03 WPA/4.6 EPA/37% SR/4.9 AYPA) played well enough to keep DEN in the game and let some lucky plays steal the win. Den appears to be installing more plays that fit his style. The good news for OAK is that Palmer seems to be fitting in well (0.19 WPA/10.7 EPA/49% SR/4.9 AYPA). He did have 3 more picks, which obviously needs to improve, but he made up for it with some great plays. McGahee stole the day with his big TD run. The game swung on four plays: the Palmer int at the end of the 3rd qtr (+0.08 WPA), McGahee’s run (+0.30 WPA), and a stop on 3rd and 4 (+0.12 WPA) immediately followed by the Royal TD punt return (+0.27 WPA). DEN should have gone for it on 4th and 2 at midfield in the 4th quarter. The punt decision there cost -0.05 WPA. OAK should have punted on 4th and 1 from their own 29 (yes their own 29!), a decision that cost OAK -0.09 WPA. Ironically, this was the punt that was returned for the TD. Setting aside the TD return, just the decision alone would qualify as the 3rd biggest play of the game.

CIN 24 TEN 17

Check out the steady 2nd-half climb for CIN. They dominated the half to steal the win. Dalton had another solid game (0.40 WPa/12.2 EPA/47% SR/5.3 AYPA), with no big mistakes. The CIN defense had a solid game, containing Hasselbeck (-0.06 WPA/6.4 EPA/45%SR/5.8 AYPA), especially in the 2nd half. A lot of people are saying CJ was back to his old form, but this is not true! Sure, he had 64 yds on 14 carries FOR 4.6 YPC, and 46 receiving yds on 4 receptions, but his overall impact was negative (-0.07 WPA/-3.6 EPA/30% SR). The TEN running game was ineffective overall with a 21% SR. Down 4 pts with 8 minutes to play, TEN punted on 4th and 1 from their own 46. They should have gone for it, as the decision cost -0.09 WPA. CIN went on to add a FG for the final score of the game.

STL 13 ARI 19

This was a really unusual game. First of all, STL scored 2 safeties. How often does that happen? (Where’s the PFR blog when you need it?) It was an OT game won on a punt return TD. Also, Bradford had +0.31 WPA while Skelton had -0.20 WPA, yet Skelton was on the winning team. Crazy. The big play was the Jackson stuff on 4th and 1 at the ARI 33 with just under 2 minutes left to play. It was tied up at 13. Was this a good call?

WP (conversion) = 0.82, WP (fail) = 0.31, success rate = 0.74
Total WP (conversion) = 0.69

WP (good kick) = 0.69, WP (miss) = 0.30, success rate = 0.55
Total WP (FG att) = 0.59

Yes it was a very good call. If you don’t buy the 74% success rate on 4th and 1, then you’d just need better than a 55% probability of success to make the conversion attempt worthwhile. One of the most dangerous things you can do is hand a team a 3 point deficit with plenty of time to march down the field with all 4 downs at its disposal.

NYG 24 NE 20

Easily the most exciting game of the week with an 8.1 Excitement Index (EI). Manning stole this one with 2 TDs in the final 3 minutes, notching 0.70 WPA. Otherwise, he had an unspectacular game (1.5 EPA/46% SR/5.3 AYPA). It was much the same for Brady. Although he came through in the clutch with 0.47 WPA, he had a tough game for the 2nd straight week (0.8 EPA/43% SR/4.7 AYPA). The NYG defense gave him fits, forcing 2 ints. NE should have gone for it on 4th and 3 from the NYG 14, down 10 pts late in the 3rd qtr. All the talk is about Ballard's clutch game, but Gronkowski actually moved the needle significantly more.

GB 45 SD 38

Rodgers and the GB offense is unstoppable. Defenses are going to have to make some gambles and get lucky if they want to slow him down. Rivers made it a game, but that 3rd int was the dagger. Peprah was GB’s defender of the game with 2 ints for 0.33 +WPA and 13.7 +EPA. I know I throw these stats around a lot, but think about what that means—nearly 14 points of net score differential.

BAL 23 PIT 20

Flacco: 1.12 WPA, 20.6 EPA. He out-Roethlisbergered Roethlisberger, who notched 0.64 WPA and 9.2 EPA in his own right. Except for the fumble, as good a game as you can expect from him at PIT. Even with the fumble, it was about as heroic as it gets. In Baltimore they've seen this same movie too many times already. This time, someone selected the director's cut alternate ending.

  • Spread The Love
  • Digg This Post
  • Tweet This Post
  • Stumble This Post
  • Submit This Post To Delicious
  • Submit This Post To Reddit
  • Submit This Post To Mixx

5 Responses to “Quick Reactions to Sunday's Games”

  1. tunesmith says:

    I love reading these breakdowns.

    By the way, I'm noticing that xml game logs in the graphs are regularly omitting some plays. It appears to be related with if it has the same time-remaining as another play immediately before/after, often the first play of a drive after a touchback, but sometimes elsewhere, and not always.

    Also, just for clarity I'd love it if the play descriptions always included the penalty descriptions. It seems as if they're never included if a penalty is in a second sentence.

  2. probablepicks says:

    Re: same team giving up 2 safeties in a game

    I don't have the full NFL history, of course, but a quick query of my database shows that since 2000 and prior to this past weekend, it has happened 4 other times, including twice on the same day (see first two below), and three times in 2003 alone:

    Atlanta against Minnesota in 2003

    Arizona against the Cowboys in 2003

    Houston against the Bills in 2003

    Aaron Rodgers sacked twice by the Vikings in the end zone in 2008

    That's 4 instances out of 3,037 games. The Rams-Cardinals game would bring that to 5 out of 3,050 (prior to tonight's game), or 0.16%.

  3. Matt says:

    The "Elias Says" blog on ESPN says this was the first time an NFL team scored exactly 4 points in a quarter.

  4. Steve Freeman says:

    you meant to say Oakland should *NOT* have punted on 4th and 1, right?

  5. Brian Burke says:

    Steve, yes. Thx.

Leave a Reply

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.