Welcome back to another edition of the SumerSports Weekend Review!
Every Monday, we will have a full recap of the weekend games including a postgame excitement index, game reviews, the top performers of the week at Quarterback, Wide Receiver, and Running Back, plus updated playoff probabilities.
Based on win probability swings, scoring, and other factors, we will have a postgame excitement index for each game of the NFL season. Here are Week 12’s excitement scores:
It doesn’t happen often that the two highest games in terms of excitement were also the two highest games in terms of watchability entering the week. In Week 12, Bills-Eagles gave us an instant classic with 6 lead changes or ties just in the 4th quarter and overtime as the Eagles came back from down 10 at the half to pull off the win.
In the early slate, Jaguars-Texans also lived up to expectations with the Texans taking the lead early in the 3rd quarter before the Jaguars took the lead on the next drive and were able to hold on after a 61 yard field goal hit the crossbar. Also happening at the same time, even devoid of much offense, was Patriots-Giants, which came down to a missed field goal by New England.
Teams that took care of business without much excitement were the Rams, Dolphins, 49ers, Cowboys, and Broncos.
Notable Games of the Week
Let’s dive into some of the games of the week determined by a combination of excitement, notability, and other factors.
Jacksonville Jaguars (24) @ Houston Texans (21)
With two high-performing young quarterbacks, Jaguars-Texans may be a matchup we look forward to every single time. Both offenses had similar success rates while the Jaguars had a higher EPA/play due to their ability to avoid negative plays better. While both quarterbacks dealt with their fair share of pressure, Trevor Lawrence didn’t take a single sack on the day while C.J. Stroud took 4 sacks for a loss of 43 yards and 7.2 EPA lost on those plays.
Both teams had trouble rushing the ball with the Jaguars having an 8th percentile EPA/rush as Travis Etienne was only able to muster 56 yards on 20 carries and was stopped at the goalline right before the half. The Texans had a 36th percentile EPA/rush with Stroud being their leading rusher at 47 yards as not a single running back went over 20 yards.
The lack of run games put more pressure on the passing game and both sides delivered. Trevor Lawrence had 19.3 total EPA, the best game of his season so far. After having 0 receptions in the first half, Calvin Ridley came alive in the second half catching 5 of his 6 targets for 89 yards and a touchdown. The Texans were similar as Nico Collins caught 7 of his 9 targets for 109 yards and a touchdown, and Tank Dell caught 5 of his 8 targets for 50 yards and a touchdown. Overall, it was a great game between two quarterbacks that are shining in the AFC South.
Buffalo Bills (34) @ Philadelphia Eagles (37)
The Eagles move to 10-1 as they continue to play their best football when trailing, and this game was no different. The Eagles have a 0.24 EPA/play when trailing on the season, which is double the Chargers in second place at 0.12. Against the Bills, the Eagles had a 0.21 EPA/play when trailing after a slow start to put them at a 60th percentile EPA/play performance on the day. In wet conditions, they leaned on running the ball with a -8.4% pass rate over expected as both D’Andre Swift and Jalen Hurts had 14 rushes for a combined 145 yards and 2 touchdowns. In the second half and overtime, the Eagles were able to find their explosive element, especially through DeVonta Smith who finished with 106 yards and a touchdown.
The Bills offense yet again put up a high-end performance in a loss as Josh Allen put up MVP caliber numbers in a loss. Allen threw for 339 yards, had 81 yards rushing, tallied 4 total touchdowns, and ended with 21.7 total EPA. Other than one interception, the Bills had a 73rd percentile negative play rate and didn’t hamstring themselves too much on offense. They were especially good on late downs with an 81st percentile conversion rate making up for their 28th percentile early down EPA/play. Gabe Davis had a big day with 6 receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown that could have been a bigger day if he and Allen were able to connect in overtime. The Bills fall to 6-6 and have ground to make up in the AFC playoff picture.
Top Performers of the Week
Using total EPA to determine the best performances, this week featured some stars we’d typically expect to see at the top, as well as some surprise players that have a lot of season left to continue those performances.
Josh Allen had the most total EPA of any quarterback with 59 total plays accounting for 421 total yards and 21.7 total EPA despite the loss in overtime.
On Thanksgiving, Dak Prescott and Jordan Love were the standout performers with Prescott having the highest EPA/play of any quarterback on the week and Love completing 68.8% of his passes in a great performance in Detroit.
In his first game with a new offensive coordinator, Kenny Pickett finished with 278 passing yards and 10.8 total EPA.
In his first game back from IR, Kyren Williams led all running backs with the highest EPA/carry at 0.56 and the most total EPA at 8.9 with 143 rushing yards on the day.
We also had Thanksgiving standouts as Christian McCaffrey had 19 rushes for 114 yards and 5.1 total EPA while Tony Pollard only had 13 rushes for 79 yards but a 4.0 total EPA.
In Pittsburgh’s first game with their new offensive coordinator, Pat Freiermuth led all pass catchers in the league in total EPA when targeted and had a 34.4% target share that resulted in him catching 9 of his 11 targets for 120 yards.
Rookie Jalin Hyatt had a great day having the most air yards on the day at 125 and established a connection with Tommy DeVito for the Giants.
The Dolphins see two of their receivers make the list as both Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hills went for 100 yards against a tough Jets defense on Black Friday.
Updated Playoff Probability Graph
The simulation above was run before Monday Night Football and thus teams that will play on Monday only show how their chances changed based on other results around the league.
There was no team with a bigger increase in their chance to make the playoffs in the AFC than the Pittsburgh Steelers. They not only moved into the 5 seed in the AFC but also won on a day where the Browns, Texans, and Bills all lost. Those teams saw their playoff odds drop dramatically in a very tight AFC Wild Card picture. The Broncos and Colts have firmly put themselves in the Wild Card picture as well as the Colts sit as the 7 seed while the Broncos are only a game out.
In the NFC, the Packers had the biggest increase in their chances to make the playoffs as they now sit one game back of both the Vikings and the Seahawks and await the results of the Monday Night game between the Bears and Vikings. The Seahawks and Saints losing drops them equally as they now sit at around a coin flip to make the postseason with the Falcons leading the NFC South.
That is all for the SumerSports Weekend Review. It was a great week of football that gave us a lot of interesting data points to look over as we start to get ready for the next set of games. As always, be sure to check out stats on SumerSports.com, articles at The Zone, the SumerSports podcast feed, and follow us on Twitter @SumerSports to dive even deeper for the rest of this season.