Oakland's Opening Onslaught

Who needs Jason Campbell when you have Shane Lechler?  The Raiders all but won their contest against Cleveland on their opening drive.  After their first offensive snap, the Raiders were favored at every point the rest of the way.  In fact, the lowest win probability for Oakland following their first drive was 53% which quickly rocketed to 71% after a Jacoby Ford 101-yard kickoff return.  Jason Campbell led a 15-play, 7:48 minute drive, capped off by a 4-yard TD run by Darren McFadden.  Campbell and crew had 11 successful plays out of the 15, 8 of which were runs (a run Success Rate of 80% on the drive).  The drive, which resulted in a Win Probability Added of +0.22, can be seen modeled here:

Oakland began at their own 12 yardline and methodically waltzed down the field.  Converting four 3rd downs (plays 3, 7, 10, 13), three of which were less than 2-yards-to-go, the punt probability dropped from  32.9% to 5.5% after the 2nd conversion.  In addition, the TD probability - which began at 12.2% - climbed steadily to 71.6% before McFadden punched it in.  The 4 conversions can be seen after each dip in the expected points on the drive:

Thanks to this great opening drive, Oakland was favored the entire game following the first 1:18.  This dominance was only rivaled by Chicago on Sunday Night, who maintained a win probability greater than 0.50 for the entire game following the opening 1:17.

Keith Goldner is the creator of Drive-By Football, and Chief Analyst at numberFire.com - The leading fantasy sports analytics platform.

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